It’s been hours since the Oscar nominations were announced, and Greta Gerwig can’t stop screaming. Or laughing. Or ugly-crying. (Out of happiness, of course.)
“I’ve been in various states of laughing and crying and yelling with joy, and you’re the next person I’m doing that to!” she laughs/cries/admits over the phone to EW of her morning-long “little head explosion.” “I apologize if I descend into something that doesn’t make any sense because I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it!”
“It” refers to how she has more than enough reasons to be bouncing off the walls, thanks to Tuesday morning’s unveiling of this year’s Oscar nominations: Her deeply personal solo directorial debut, the poignant coming-of-age tale Lady Bird, netted five nods, including best picture, best director, best original screenplay, best actress (for Saoirse Ronan), and best supporting actress (for Laurie Metcalf).
“I woke up at 3:30 in the morning and I was like, ‘Nope, it’s not time, you gotta go back to sleep,’ so I forced myself to go back to sleep, and then I woke up at 6:30 or 7, and I was like, ‘Ooooh, whatever happened has happened,’ so I’m going to make myself a cup of coffee and control my breathing and then look at my phone,” she recalls. “I did all that and I looked at my phone, and the first thing I saw was Saoirse’s best friend had sent me a video of Saoirse crying and laughing and being so happy, and I thought, ‘I don’t know what’s happened, but it looks good!'”
It certainly does. After all, Gerwig has not only nabbed her first Oscar nods, but the actor-writer-director also made history with her directing nomination. She’s the first female director to be nominated for an Academy Award in eight years (the previous nominee and eventual winner being Kathryn Bigelow, for The Hurt Locker in 2010), and the fifth female director ever to be nominated in Academy history.
Just thinking about that makes her, well, want to cry. “This is the crying portion of the conversation,” Gerwig warns. “There are so many great films this year, and to be included among them as a woman means so much… The women who have been filmmakers who are both my peers and the ones who have come before me have meant so much to me, and they’re the reason that I found the courage to do this. I remember when Sofia Coppola was nominated and how much that meant to me. I remember when Kathryn Bigelow won and what that felt like, and I feel like those women are the reason I was able to do this. When I think about it — and I think about women of all ages — I hope that they look at this and they think, ‘I’m going to go make my movie.'” She starts choking up. “I just keep feeling like I want more female storytellers and I want it quite selfishly because I want to see their stories. I want to watch their movies.”
Gerwig points out that she wouldn’t have felt comfortable making Lady Bird had she not seen how Rebecca Miller, who directed her in 2015’s Maggie’s Plan, pull off the feat. “It was something about watching her and watching her realize her movie that I thought, ‘It’s time, it’s time. Look at her! You can do this!'” she remembers. “And then, I don’t know, just, think of how many movies we haven’t seen, and think of how many more we’ll get to!” She laughs. “This is getting pretty f—ing emotional.”
At least she’s not the only one ugly-crying Tuesday morning. Her fellow best director nominee Jordan Peele, whose own directorial debut Get Out landed him on the Academy’s radar with four nominations, also tweeted about holding back tears — and Gerwig was quick to note how proud she is of Peele. “I just have to say, I’m so excited for Jordan! I feel like we kind of buddied up early — it’s his first film, it’s my first film,” she says. “He was one of the first people I called this morning. I was like, ‘Can you believe it?’ The idea of diversity in storytellers is so very important that I couldn’t be more honored to be in this category with these people. I mean, Jordan! Christopher Nolan! [Paul Thomas] Anderson! Guillermo del Toro?! I’m going to cry again.”
She probably will; after she hangs up, she’ll be meeting Lady Bird star Beanie Feldstein for breakfast in Los Angeles — the two had agreed to a meal on Tuesday morning “no matter what happens” — so Gerwig figures she’ll have at least one more crying session to go through before the day’s over. (Besides, “We gotta play ‘Crash Into Me’!” she notes.) For now, Gerwig’s just excited for the chance to celebrate with her cast and crew. “Everyone who worked on this movie poured so much into it. That [Best Picture] nomination is a recognition of all of them, and I wish I could get them all together and cry into their faces,” she says, laughing. “I just love movies so much. This is amazing.”
The 90th Academy Awards will air March 4 at 8 p.m. on ABC.