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Inside the 2015 Oscars Luncheon: The best quotes from the nominees

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Robyn Beck/Getty Images

Once the majority of the 195 nominees had been seated inside the ballroom of the Beverly Hilton, Academy Awards producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron took to the stage for the real purpose of the event–to get the nominees thinking about their acceptance speeches.

Although on the big night most of the people in the room will go home empty-handed, Zadan and Meron implored all the potential winners to plan ahead–“don’t wing it,” said Meron. “Make it personal, funny and heartfelt.”  And most importantly, he emphasized, “No lists!” The duo, who have run the telecast for the last three years, instructed their audience that they have only 45 seconds once they reach the mic.

Following the instructions, the Oscar class of 2015 took the stage for their picture, with Clint Eastwood, age 84, called to stand on the proscenium first for the 20-minute assemblage. Selma producer Oprah Winfrey was helped up onto the riser by

The Imitation Game director Morten Tyldum, while Michael Keaton jumped out of his place in line to give Robert Duvall a hearty handshake. Wild star Reese Witherspoon chatted amicably with Foxcatcher director Bennett Miller and Birdman supporting actor Edward Norton as the rest of the crowd filed in. Even host Neil Patrick Harris stopped by to encourage his audience to laugh at his jokes on Feb 22, uttering the phrase “when everything will be hilarious” three times before everyone finally caught on.

Here are the best quotes from Monday’s luncheon:

Patricia Arquette, Best Actress in a Supporting Role nominee, Boyhood:

”I hope I don’t faint. Honestly, just walking in here is the grownup version of a kid going to Disneyland. Like, ‘Look at that big statue. Can you believe we’re here? Look at these lights. I can’t believe this is happening.’ When I first was nominated, I felt like I was in a weird elongated dream. Two days later, we were in a restaurant and my boyfriend went to the bathroom and I seemed to have woken up when he left. I grabbed this kid next to me and said, ‘I got nominated for an Academy Award.’ He looked at me and was like, ‘No you didn’t.’ I made him google it. ‘Isn’t it crazy?’ My boyfriend came back and was like, ‘What’s going on? You guys are jumping and screaming.’ It is just amazing.”

“I never had the agenda of my career. I never saw that moment happen and I didn’t make my career choice trying to pursue [an Oscar] or with a hunger for that. Having said that, at 46, it is really a beautiful incredible thing. I feel like I can appreciate all of what is meaningful about it.”

Eddie Redmayne, Best Actor nominee, The Theory Of Everything:

“[After] I was lucky enough to win, I had the most wonderful experience of taking the Golden Globe in my hand luggage through the X-ray machine. I went through, saw the bag go through and saw the woman stop the thing and go close-up on the weird shaped thing. [Puts on American accent] She’s like, ‘I think it is an award or something.’ I was praying that they would make me open it up. The guy was like, ‘Is this real?’ And I was like, ‘Uh, yeah.’ That was a special moment.”

Michael Keaton, Best Actor nominee, Birdman:

About his opinion of Best Director nominee Alejandro G. Inarritu before and after the shoot: “At the beginning, he was passionate and crazy and at the end he was more passionate and crazier. Other than his films, I didn’t know him. Except that I directed this little movie and I had called him about his Amores Perros editors a long time ago. He doesn’t remember this. It is a movie where there is no choice but to be intimate. He is extremely open and forthcoming about his personal life and what he thinks about things. He is courageous and that transfers to the film. I like to think I have always been courageous in my work — because I think that’s part of the deal — but this made me more so. This is what we are as human beings, warts and all.”

On his so-far well-received acceptance speeches and what he’ll say if he wins the Oscar: “Pressure’s on now. There are a lot of people to thank. I’ve been doing this awhile now and the list gets longer and longer. I just can’t get to everyone and there are a lot of things that I want to say. My kid gets nervous. ‘Dad, you get kind of tangential.’ So I keep a basic idea of things I think need to be said or I want to say and I toss a lot and go with how I feel. The word grateful, I’m just going to keep saying it and you’re gonna get sick of it if you already aren’t. It is nice to be older because you really don’t care about a lot of things anymore. You just go, ‘Fuck it.’ I prefer that people like me but you really don’t care what they think so you say what I want to say. I never want to look back and think I was a bullshitter.”

J.K. Simmons, Best Actor in a Supporting Role nominee, Whiplash:

On how he felt the first time he saw Whiplash: “It was in Cannes where I had never been in my life. It was the most gratifying first viewing of a film ever seen. The response was crazy. They wouldn’t shut up afterwards. Both the visceral standing ovation and the genuineness of the French cinephiles appreciating the movie. My personal response was that I was riveted on the edge of my seat. It was like when I was a kid watching Deliverance. I have sat through the whole thing four times and my response has been different every time. One time the movie played like a tragedy for me and my heart was broken for Andrew. So everybody should see it at least four times … in the theater.”

On the possibility of a sequel: “Yeah, it would be called Neck Brace.”

Felicity Jones, Best Actress nominee, The Theory Of Everything:

On the best piece of advice she got from Jane Hawking: “I felt when I met Jane that I was definitely being auditioned by her. Playing a real person, I was wanting to get her blessing. More than a piece of advice, she gave me this lovely look when I left her house. I went over for a cup of tea and dinner with her and her husband and as they were waving me off as I was leaving up their driveway, there was just something in her eye that felt like she can relax and trust me with her life stories. It was more of a look than a piece of information.”

Steve Carell, Best Actor nominee, Foxcatcher:

On the moment he found out he was nominated: “I wish I could tell you I was cool that morning. I wish I could say that the phone rang and woke me up and I said, “Oh my gosh. I forgot that was today. What a surprise.’ Click. Go back to sleep. But I was up at 5:30 with a cup of coffee sitting downstairs in the darkness. I didn’t know my wife had woken up too and was watching it upstairs. When my name was announced, I ran upstairs to tell her and she was running downstairs. We met at the top of the stairs and were jumping up and down for about 10 minutes. I will never forget that. It is a very unique moment and such a supremely happy one.”

Emma Stone, Best Actress in a Supporting Role nominee, Birdman:

I’m doing a play right now in New York and my head is in such a bizarre [state]. I’ve got two weeks left playing Sally Bowles and then I’m going to be coming here in a fancy dress. It’s like her dream to be doing this. Me, I’m playing a gin-swilling very sad character every night so I can’t really think about facials quite yet.”

Robert Duvall, Best Actor in a Supporting Role nominee, The Judge: “It’s great to be here. It’s been five years since I could fit in this suit. I’ve been working out so that I can keep up with everybody. The young actors today are better than ever. We learn from each other. I’ve been fortunate to be a character actor. I would like to play Don Quixote still. There’s some things left. Sometimes something will come around the corner and surprise me. Sometimes it is better than the planned things.”

Julianne Moore, Best Actress nominee, Still Alice:

“Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death. There is no cure. There are no survivors. So often people who are diagnosed have a great deal of shame. They don’t feel seen or represented. People tend to write people off after they are diagnosed like that’s the end when in fact there’s a process of living with Alzheimer’s. The response from the community has been tremendous because they feel like what they are going through has been represented. It is bringing awareness to the disease and that is something we all need to pay more attention too.”

“Still Alice, we shot last march and the incredible thing is the speed with which it came out. When the Oscars are over, oddly it won’t have even been a year since we shot it. Which is nuts.”

“The first time I came to the Oscar Luncheon I’d just had a baby. I decided to wear a boxy day coat and I got out of the car and my publicist said, ‘We have to get you away from this intellectual fashion. This is ridiculous.’ I feel more comfortable now. My children are older so I don’t have to wear something so misshapen.”

 Laura Dern, Best Actress in a Supporting Role nominee, Wild:

“It is a very beautiful thing to have the privilege of sharing an event like this with your family. My dad is with me today and I came with my mom when I was 7. I remember the Oscars of my childhood as this shared collaborative experience of my parents’ friends talking about doing the films they loved. Some of my best friends are in that room and happen to be nominated too so it has a very special meaning to me.”

On the controversy about fact versus fiction in Wild: “I think our goal was to honor Cheryl and her story. And as we all learned in our own lives, even our own stories are told by other people differently and not necessarily in a way we agree with. When it comes to life stories, you have to honor what you know. I had the privilege of knowing her through her daughter.”

Bradley Cooper, Best Actor nominee, American Sniper:

On the controversy surrounding his film: “For any discussion that sheds light on the plight of the soldiers in the armed services to occur is fantastic. I don’t think I’ll realize how [it affected me] maybe for my whole life. It was life-changing to play a real person. He was murdered two years ago to this day. To play a real human being when it is so fresh and his family is still alive is a huge endeavor and responsibility.”

“I was raised on Oscar shows. No matter where I was, everyone was huddled around the TV in my family. I never daydreamed about being up at the podium, but I dreamed about being there. When they cut to audience, you’d see all these people you loved all together. It was such an odd and surreal thing to see all these actors in the flesh as themselves.”

 Reese Witherspoon, Best Actress nominee, Wild:

“It is great to speak up, but what I really think is you gotta do something. Those are the people I admire in this business. I started my production company two years ago because I saw six of my favorite actresses fighting over a really crappy role in a movie and I thought, ‘We deserve better. We just do.’ The greatest gift of my professional life was that Cheryl Strayed gave me the opportunity to play her in a movie. I’ve never been so challenged before by a story and by a director, physically and mentally. I feel like I really fought for this movie to get made. All those days crossing freezing rivers and hiking up mountains carrying equipment, it was a hard process but so rewarding.”

On preparing for movies’ biggest night: “I just left New Orleans where I am shooting with Sofia Vergara. I have rugburn on my knees and bruises up an down my legs from fighting with Sofia. Wrestling with Sofia is how I prepare. It is good for your skin and it gets your muscles going. She’s very tough girl.”

 

Marion Cotillard, Best Actress nominee, 2 Days, 1 Night:

On how the cast decompressed and brought spirits back up after a long day of shooting a depressing, gut-wrenching story: “You drink beer. Belgium, baby! Sometimes.”

Rosamund Pike, Best Actress nominee, Gone Girl:

“I feel like I am in one of these game shows where you turn the corner and don’t know what to expect. Everything at the moment is just not what I expect.” (What is the prize of this particular show?) “I suppose it means recognition. It’s somebody saying you did okay, more than okay. Even being nominated for an Academy Award means that somebody said that you are going down the road in the right direction. But it certainly isn’t an end point. I feel I’m just about now getting good at what I do.”

On a question she is tired of answering: “It has come up occasionally where people say, ‘Why wasn’t justice done?’ I feel justice was completely done. These two narcissists got exactly what they deserved — each other. If you mean justice where somebody goes to prison, I think what part of the David’s Fincher’s oeuvre to date would make you think justice of that sort would ever occur?”

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