The 30th Annual Film Independent Spirit Awards took place on Feb. 21, 2015, at the beach in Santa Monica, Calif. Here is what this Spirit Award winner said backstage in the Spirit Awards press room.
Best Female Lead
How was it to emotionally prepare for your role in “Still Alice”?
It was an amazing experience, actually, working on this movie. The Alzheimer’s community was so incredibly helpful and generous with their time and information. It was pretty extensive, the research, because I hadn’t had any personal experience with Alzheimer’s. I learned a lot. People who are living with this disease are amazing! Amazing! It’s a long process. We wanted to make a movie that was about living with something, not about dying from it.
You’ve been an actor for decades, but this year, you’ve been collecting more trophies than you’ve ever done before in your career. How does that make you feel?
I guess you can poo-poo awards all you want, but I don’t want to. If people go out of their way to acknowledge a performance, it’s a very big deal. So many great performances every year, so many great movies. And so often, these awards are from people you work with. So it does mean a tremendous amount.
How do you feel about this year’s Academy Awards?
[She says jokingly] It’s tomorrow? [She says seriously] It’s very exciting to be included.
How do you balance a busy career and having a family?
I’m very fortunate. I have a really wonderful family. My husband’s been out here for the weekend. He makes me laugh so hard. We have two really beautiful children [who are] 17 and about to be 13. I feel very, very fortunate that I have a work/life balance.
What has been the secret to your long career as a successful and respected actress?
I’ve just been lucky with what’s come my way. Honestly, the fact that I had a year where I had both “Maps to the Stars” and “Still Alice,” I am blown away by my good fortune. I have very little control. The only control we have is saying “yes” or “no.” But we can’t control what comes to us. I just feel very lucky.
What’s the bravest thing you’ve done as an actor?
I always say to be brave, you have to be afraid. I’m not actually afraid of acting. I’m afraid of skiing. I’m afraid to go fast in cars. I don’t like to dive, because I don’t like the feeling of water hitting the top of my head.
There are lots of things I’m afraid of. I’m even afraid of cocktail parties sometimes. But acting is something I really enjoy, particularly independent film acting. It feels very exciting and personal. I feel like it’s a safe place to do anything.
You were at Tom Ford’s womenswear show yesterday. What can you say about him?
What’s there not to love about Tom? I’ve been friends with him for 17 years. He’s an extraordinary talent. I think he always celebrates what’s most wonderful about women. He genuinely loves women and has an incredible unerring eye and beautiful aesthetic.
How do you keep passion in your relationship with your husband?
You should ask him that. I don’t know if he’s feeling a lot of passion right now, because he’s been very busy.
You can’t get ahead of yourself. One day at a time. Honestly, it’s been so amazing. We actually started shooting it last year the day after the Oscars. Wash [Westmoreland, co-director of “Still Alice] reminded me of that when he emailed me the other day. We all had to go to bed early and couldn’t see the end of the Oscars because we were shooting it the next day. Last year, [the Oscars were] in March.
So we made this movie not even a year ago, and we didn’t even think we would get distribution. So it’s truly astonishing. And I really do mean that it’s [“Still Alice” co-directors] Wash and Richard [Glatzer’s] accomplishment.
They’re incredible filmmakers. This is their passion. They work so hard. Richard has ALS. He was directing on an iPad. This is something he really wanted to happen, and they made it happen.
Where will you put your Spirit Award?
In my suitcase. No, in my office when I get home. It’s not very interesting. In my office on a shelf.
Did you feel sad when you made “Still Alice”?
What’s amazing is it’s sort of the reverse. It didn’t make me sad. It made me appreciate. It made me grateful for everything I have. This is a movie not about loss but about love and life and what we value and who we want to be with and how we want to spend our time.
I would come home at the end of the day and think about how fortunate I was to have my husband and my kids and dogs and friends and work that I loved. Richard was really interesting too in trying to communicate what it means to work and the value in that. There’s a tremendous amount of beauty in this movie, and they’re responsible for it.
What can you say about your “Still Alice” co-star Alec Baldwin, who played your husband in the movie?
I love Alec! He’s my buddy. I just adore him, and I’m so grateful that he did this.
For more info: Spirit Awards website
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