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 Supporting Female
Were you ever concerned about “Boyhood” being filmed over 12 years?
No, I wasn’t concerned at all. I just knew enough about the business that it’s so hard to get financing for a small movie that legally, you can’t have a contract [after seven years], so anyone could have left. I knew the likelihood of getting financing was slim-to-none, so that’s what blew my mind. I wanted to be a part of it. I knew no one had ever done an unscripted film [like “Boyhood”] before.
To do something like this in film at this moment is so rare. And the way [“Boyhood” writer/director Richard Linklater] talked about the movie, the experience of a normal human being. These are people we don’t often make movies about, but these are people we know in our lives. This idea that life is short, life is beautiful, and we’re all growing and changing is so exciting to me as an artist to be a part of that because it moves me a lot as a human being to see that in my life.
In your acceptance speech, you mentioned that although you do a lot of independent films, network television has been paying your bills. Do you prefer one medium over another?
My great-grandparents were in vaudeville, and that was five cents a ticket. It was really entertainment for the masses, so for me, that’s what network television is. People in the folks’ homes, the trailer parks, you’ve got to watch a Snuggles commercial, but other than that, it’s entertainment.
So I like that, and they pay you better than other things. Now, independent film pays you very little, so that gives you the ability to do both. Both of them have their values. Both of them are entertaining people, both are telling different stories.
You also mentioned in your speech that this is the first time you’ve been invited to the Spirit Awards. How does it feel to win an award the first time that you’re here?
It’s nice to be here, because I’ve turned down a lot of big movies. I have for many, many years. And sometimes, it was very difficult, being a single mom at 20, to turn down a big movie that I didn’t love as a movie. Instead, I was doing independent films. This is the independent film awards, so it’s very nice to be asked to come.
What’s the bravest thing you’ve done as an actor?
Well, let me tell you as an actor, a lot of times as a kid, you think, “I want to be something, but I don’t know if I can. I don’t know if I’ll be successful or not. At one point, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a midwife or an actress. So I just thought I’d give myself one year between the time I turned 18 and 19 to every single day to work toward acting, to audition or take pictures or study someone else’s performance.
And every time I would get bad feedback from an audition, I actually saw it as good feedback because as I saw it, I was brave. And that really was my purpose of that year was to be as brave as I could, in fear for a year. I ended up getting work, and I kept getting work. I think most people hold themselves back, so the best thing to be is brave, I guess.
Did you bond with any of the “Boyhood” crew members over the years?
Our crew members were part of this huge family. Many people would start as a PA [production assistant], and then 12 years later are a first AD [assistant director] but come back as a PA. One of my agents, who’s here tonight, when we started “Boyhood,” he was an assistant, and now he’s a partner at the firm. That’s how long this movie has been working, and that’s how long all these people have known each other. That’s how all our lives have changed. People buried their parents, got married, divorced, had babies.
And it wasn’t just a week a year. People say, “Oh, you only shot a week a year.” Richard Linklater did two months of every day of pre-production, getting offices, location scouting, casting other parts, hiring every part of the team. That’s two solid years in an office doing these things. He spent a year-and-a-half solid. Every year, he’d spend a month-and-a-half editing. It was an enormous commitment of time. It’s not a week a year.
Could you relate to the scene in “Boyhood” when your character broke down and cried when her son went off to college?
It was the best day, because you’re kid’s healthy, your kid’s alive, made it to college. You’re kid’s healthy, they’re not on drugs. Hallelujah! Those are all the scary things you worry about as a parent. It also was very hard to let him go, but I wouldn’t let him see that. I cried driving home for nine hours, but not in front of him.
Some people ask me, “Why do you cover your face when you start crying?” As an actor, a lot of times, people tell me, “Show you face to the camera when you start crying. I want to see you when you’re crying.”
In real life, that doesn’t happen. In real life, when you’re the breadwinner, when you are the mom, and you’ve been strong, and you’ve carried your family up the hill, in those moments when you break down, the last person you want to see in your most vulnerable moment is your kids.
For more info: Spirit Awards website
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