By Carrie Bell
February 04, 2013 at 12:00 PM EST
Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Before the 160 expected guests of honor could bite into their burrata arugula canapés and miso-marinated, pistachio-crusted sea bass fillets at the annual Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon in the Beverly Hilton ballroom on Monday, a handful of nominated actors and filmmakers dropped by the press room to talk about their celebrated projects, awards season experiences, people they’d like to work with, and big night fashion plans. There were moments of gratitude, plenty of jokes and even, in the case of Amy Adams, accidental musical accompaniment and spontaneous dancing.

Read on to see the best of what was said behind the scenes:

Jennifer Lawrence, Best Actress nominee, Silver Linings Playbook: “Last time was comfort. This year I’m like, ‘Suck it up. Wear a corset.’ I’m going to go for fashion this time. I saw that, but that’s the problem with the Oscars. They’re always at the end and you are exhausted from dressing up. Eating normally calms me down. I remember before the Oscars I was wearing that skintight dress and I ate a Philly cheese steak and fries and was like, ‘This is definitely going to help.’ Which it didn’t because I had to double my Spanx.”

“It’s very calm at my house. Nobody in my family has fully absorbed it. I can talk about other things than myself, which is great. And then the night of the Oscars, everybody just gets wasted and has a blast.”

Ben Affleck, director/producer of Best Picture nominee Argo: “The period of time that I’ve been able to spend talking about the movie and exploring the movie with journalists and audiences has been really satisfying because the script Chris wrote has all these interesting themes [and covers] a very broad spectrum of stuff. I’ve worked on movies where I’ve run out of things to say at the junket after 15 seconds.”

[On the Best Director snub:] “There are nine amazing movies, any of which could and deserve to win. I don’t get into worrying too much about who got what. We got seven nominations including Best Picture. I’m elated, truly genuinely thrilled by that. This is a rich, robust group of filmmakers and I’m just happy to be rubbing elbows with them. I just feel so incredibly honored to be nominated as a producer; to be here at the big party. You know, I’ve had many, many, many, many years watching from home.”

Hugh Jackman, Best Actor nominee, Les Miserables: [Did you ever hesitate about taking on a role that had been done so many times on stage, on TV, in film?] “I was so stalkerish about getting this role. I literally hunted Tom down and auditioned. When I got the call that I got the part, that’s when it hit me. It was one of those Be careful what you wish for things because of all of that history. Of course, I downloaded every film that have ever been made and then proceeded to watch none of them. I was part terrified and because I realized I had to make it my own. It is the Hamlet of roles. Then, I went into ignorance is bliss and did it with Tom. But was there pressure? Sure. And because we sang live, every day was like an opening and a closing in the theater all at once.”

Jessica Chastain, Best Actress nominee, Zero Dark Thirty: “Most little girls dream about their wedding dresses but I always dreamed about my Oscar dress. “

“A strange thing happens this time of year. It starts to feel like it’s a race. Acting is very different than playing tennis. You don’t put two people in a room and we match it out. For me, I feel like I’ve already won. I never want to lose sight of what I feel right now being in this business and being nominated.”

Bradley Cooper, Best Actor nominee, Silver Linings Playbook: [Is this role and awards attention a game-changer for you?] “I know I wasn’t up here for The Hangover. So maybe. I’m enjoying every minute of this. It’s easy for me because I like people. I’m sure the day of I’ll be a caretaker calming my mother down. She still doesn’t know what to wear. But it’s gone so much farther than an awards season because of the response that it’s had. Talk about a silver lining to this movie.”

Denzel Washington, Best Actor nominee, Flight: [On pilots’ reaction to Flight]: “I haven’t seen any. They’re never on the plane when I get on anymore. No, I haven’t had really any. Nothing too negative or too positive.”

“[When I won my first Oscar], many many years ago when I was just a wee lad, my daughter drew a picture of Oscar and it said something like, “You my Oscar anyway. Plus, I don’t like Kevin Spacey.’ I have it. I got it in my room. It’s right next to the other ones. That’s a very fond memory.”

Anne Hathaway, Best Actress in a Supporting Role nominee, Les Miserables: [On choosing a gown for the ceremony] “I need to get on that don’t I? It was the Super Bowl. I couldn’t think about dresses with all that delicious fried food around?”

“I don’t take anything for granted. I have been given extraordinary opportunities and I’ve fought for extraordinary opportunities. So I don’t believe you are ever just there in the golden moment. I think you’ll probably always have to remind people that you’re there, that you have something to offer, maybe something beyond what they imagine for you.”

Jacki Weaver, Best Actress in a Supporting Role nominee, Silver Linings Playbook: “No. I do think that I’m incredibly lucky and never dreamed that after a very contented jobbing actor career for 50 years that suddenly two years ago I’d be embraced so kindly and generously by the American film community. It’s a measure of, without pissing in your pockets, how this kind country is. I’m amazed. I still can’t believe it’s happened to me. I’m 65 and that’s lovely [to be honored by the AARP as well as by the Academy]. It’s even more fun when schoolboys in the street recognize me.”

Naomi Watts, Best Actress nominee, The Inpossible: “It is a great year for Australia. It really does become exciting when you see fellow actors achieving this kind of recognition. You are able to pinch each other and go, ‘Look at this. This is really happening. Isn’t it incredible?’ Having just saw those gold statues and having to line up next to them, I thought, ‘Wow, this is a flashback.’ It was the first time that it hit home that it’s actually happened.”

Amy Adams, Best Actress in a Supporting Role nominee, The Master: “This [interview] interrupted my flirting with Christoph Waltz and Bradley Cooper. They’re both pretty receptive and open so I say it’s going to be a good lunch for me. [Suddenly, strains of Patti Smith overtake the sound system,] They literally just started playing ‘Because the night belongs to lovers.’ I think maybe this is the theme of my lunch. I’m very excited. I’m always saying, ‘I want to try to have fun.’ This year, I’m having fun. I don’t know if I’m ever going to be back, God willing we’ll see, but four times is awesome so I am actually experiencing and enjoying it.”

Tim Burton, director/writer/ producer of Best Animated Feature Film, Frankenweenie: [On why his arm is in a sling] “I wish I had an interesting story. But no, I slipped and fell on the streets of London and have a huge metal plate. I go off at airports now, which makes flying extra fun. Part bionic man. Yeah [it’s very painful] but I’m not going for the sympathy vote.”

Christoph Waltz, Best Actor in a Supporting Role nominee, Django Unchained: [Did you suspect doing another Tarantino project would put you back to the awards limelight?] “If I start to think about nominations or awards before I start the work then that is literally putting the cart before the horse. But I owe Quentin more than I would like to admit.”

Sally Field, Best Actress in a Supporting Role nominee, Lincoln: “Mary Todd Lincoln was a colorful personality and a highly emotional being. How did I tap into that? It is hard to say how you really become the character you want to become. I have had some opportunities in my life, not as many as I would like, to play really complicated characters and you don’t tap into any one emotion. You try to live in this place, in these other people’s shoes, that you create by learning their history and about the era, through the clothes and then the actual immediacy of that day. I just did my work.”

Robert De Niro, Best Actor in a Supporting Role nominee, Silver Linings Playbook: [It’s been 38 years since your first nomination and now that you ‘re a legend, how do you feel about your most recent nomination?] “It’s still a big deal.”

“David is terrific and I wanted to work with him for awhile. Other projects came up that were maybe happening but didn’t. This one, as soon as he wanted to do it, I said, ‘I’m in.’ He did a rewrite and I didn’t care because I knew whatever he did would be good based on what he’s done, especially The Fighter. It was that simple. I like to work with young actors. I’ll never volunteer it, but if they ask me for advice, I’m always very happy to give it. I like to do that.”

Helen Hunt, Best Actress in a Supporting Role nominee, The Sessions: “I find that this movie makes for interesting conversations and not for all the obvious naked reasons. It seems to touch people who see it in a way that makes for interesting conversations. There’s nobody like [the woman I play] other than daughter who is 8 and radiating that kind of positivity. I have never been around somebody with [such] pure enthusiasm. She is a shining light whether she is talking about sex, her book, or the cancer she survived.”

Quvenzhane Wallis, Best Actress nominee, Beasts of the Southern Wild: “I’m happy and excited [to be the youngest best actress nominee in Academy history]. It’s something that you never think will happen at your age.”

Neil Meron, producer of the 85th Annual Academy Awards: “There is no oversized red button. Seth is Seth and we love him. We welcome his brand.”

Craig Zadon, producer of the 85th Annual Academy Awards: “He’s one of the few hosts that has been at every production meeting. He’s been there every day. As he’s writing it, we are part of the process. He’s saying, ‘Is this good? Is this funny? Not funny?’ We aren’t going to be surprised by anything. We’re working as a team.”

Read more:

Special coverage: Oscars 2013

Barbra Streisand to perform at Oscars

Oscars ‘Behind the Ballot’: Makeup