Q&A: `Virtuosos' talk about film awards season
By MICHAEL CIDONI,Associated Press Writer AP - 57 minutes ago
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - If you're looking for some good red-carpet dish, this is good company: Actors Viola Davis, Rosemarie DeWitt, Richard Jenkins, Melissa Leo and Michael Shannon, who, collectively, have likely walked down miles of arrivals lines over the last few months.
And all have at least a few more steps to go. Four are Oscar nominees, and three are in contention for Film Independent's Spirit Awards.
They were honored Wednesday night by the Santa Barbara International Film Festival with its second annual Virtuosos Award, presented to actors who marked their film breakouts over the last year.
And such is undoubtedly the case with these five honorees: Davis and Leo, who portrayed tortured mothers in "Doubt" and "Frozen River," respectively; Shannon as a mentally unstable son in "Revolutionary Road"; acting veteran Jenkins, the oldest of the group at 61, as a lost soul who finds a new life thanks to "The Visitor"; and DeWitt as the exasperated, titular sister with one toxic sibling in "Rachel Getting Married."
They sat down with The Associated Press before receiving their Santa Barbara honors.
AP: So, what's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word "virtuoso"?
Leo: I thought maybe I needed to bring along my violin. (Laughs.)
AP: My understanding is the award is given to those who enjoyed film-career breakthroughs last year. So, Richard, how does it feel to be an overnight sensation? (All laugh.)
Jenkins: You know, the truth is nobody's ever said that to me. I mean, they look at me and they think, "He couldn't have just started." (More laughter from all.)
DeWitt: For me (this group is) like a master class in acting. You remember to have a sense of danger, like Michael (pointing to Shannon), or (turning to Davis and Leo) these two, ferocious, ferocious women in performances.
Jenkins: And what about me?
DeWitt: Subtle stillness, and so much beauty.
AP: Who's got a great red-carpet story?
Shannon: Oh yeah, I don't know if I should tell it though.
Jenkins: You have to now!
Shannon: It was when we were at the Palm Springs festival, it got a little congested, a little crowded, and I was standing next to ("Entertainment Tonight" host) Mary Hart, and somebody jostled into me and my hand shook and it bounced off of her derriere.
AP: So, how was it?
Shannon: I mean, it BOUNCED!
(The other Virtuosos howl with laugher.)
AP: In her acceptance speech at Sunday's Screen Actors Guild Awards, Meryl Streep said, "Viola Davis _ my god, somebody give her a movie!" So, did the phone ring the next day?
Davis: I decline to answer that. Here's the thing: Doing all of this publicity, I didn't think much of it other than it was a great compliment ... that this women who I was terrified of (on the) first day of shooting and who I have admired so many years, liked me. She really, really liked me.
Jenkins: OK, but did your phone ring the next day?
Davis: I decline, Richard. I decline.
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