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Backstage highlights from the 2014 Academy Awards

MoviesMatthew McConaugheyAlfonso CuaronAcademy AwardsSpike JonzeCate Blanchett

Some final tidbits from backstage at the Oscars 2014:

-- Spike Jonze, clutching his Original Screenplay Oscar for “Her,” said he wasn’t necessarily foretelling the future with his film about a lonely man who falls in love and carries on a relationship with his computer operating system. “I have no idea,” he said. “I think anything is going to happen and everything’s going to happen.”

Was he trying to issue some sort of warning about where rampant technology could lead? Not necessarily, it seems. “We’re 13 billion years into this universe,” Jonze said, “and there’s billions of years after this. So who knows?”

-- Asked what it meant to be only the second African-American to win a Screenplay Oscar, John Ridley, who adapted Solomon Northrup’s story into “12 Years a Slave,” gave credit to his parents, “who simply wouldn’t let me settle for second best.”

Calling Northrup an “exquisite writer,” Ridley said he was overjoyed that people are responding to the film and Northrup’s story of being a free man unjustly enslaved for more than a decade. “If you can inspire people in what you do ... that is so special,” he said. “It makes a difference, when people choose with their pocketbooks.”

Asked where he does most of his writing, Ridley gave an answer any dad would understand. “Most of the time it’s in my car,” he said, “in the parking lot of my kids’ school.”

-- For Best Actor winner Matthew McConaughey, persistence paid off. Though not necessarily his persistence.

Noting the script for “Dallas Buyers Club” came across his desk four years ago, he said he was astonished the movie at the time was still his to be made. “The script, no one wanted to make it for 20 years. It got turned down 127 times ... that was a minor miracle.”

Speaking about his TV series, “True Detective,” McConaughey complained – jokingly – that he wasn’t even sure what happens in the latest episode. Then, when it seemed he might be remembering, several people screamed, “NO SPOILERS!”

“I don’t know what happens, I’m tellin’ ya,” McConaughey said, reassuring the skeptical.

-- Best Director winner Alfonso Cuaron, the first Mexican to win the award, used his backstage time to promote the Mexican film industry. He’s glad for all the attention, Cuaron said, but would like to spread it around a bit.

“I would love if that same support was given to some more films that are coming out of there,” he said of his home country, “with Mexican filmmakers, shot in Mexico, with Mexican subject matter.”

-- Brad Pitt, one of the producers of Best Picture winner “12 Years a Slave,” had no trouble explaining his attraction to the project.

“I love this movie,” he said. “I think it’s important. I think it’s important because it deals with our history. ... It’s important that we understand our history, not for any sense of guilt, but so that we understand who we were ... and most importantly, who we’re going to be.

“This film remains a gentle reminder that we’re all equal,” he added, “that another’s freedom is every bit as important as our own. That’s it, and that’s everything.”

Director Steve McQueen acknowledged the landmark status of the film, a groundbreaker in many ways for black filmmakers. “It’s a mark of development. ... It’s just a progression,” he said. “The background characters are now in the foreground.”

-- For Best Actress winner Cate Blanchett, even the rain that dampened Oscar’s red carpet early in the day did nothing to lessen her enjoyment of the day. A little drought relief for Southern California was most assuredly a good thing, she said.

“It’s a little slight inconvenience, when you’re wearing a dress,” Blanchett said. “But it’s so good for the reservoirs.”

So, what’s in store for the evening’s celebration? ”I’d say alcohol, but that’s a bit predictable,” she said. “Hopefully, I’ll be going dancing.”

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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MoviesMatthew McConaugheyAlfonso CuaronAcademy AwardsSpike JonzeCate Blanchett
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