(LOS ANGELES) — Here’s what the winners had to say backstage at the 86th Academy Awards in Hollywood on Sunday night:
After jumping up and down on stage when his film, 12 Years a Slave, was named best picture, director Steve McQueen explained his enthusiastic outburst to reporters. He said he was ecstatic because he doesn’t know if he’ll ever experience that kind of Oscar moment again. The British filmmaker then joked, “You know, Van Halen, ‘Jump.'”
Brad Pitt, who produced the film and had a small role in it, praised the cast. He described best supporting actress winner Lupita Nyong’o as a “rare find” and a “gem.” He also shared kind words about best actor nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Matthew McConaughey said his best actor win represented the end of a journey for him, after he was presented the script for Dallas Buyers Club four years ago. As he mentioned to reporters, though, the film was a project that languished for more than a decade before it was finally made.
McConaughey marveled, “I got a prize for excellence for the work that I do and something that’s not my job, that’s not my hobby, that’s not my fad, it’s my career. And that feels wonderful.”
He was asked about the so-called “McConaissance” he’s experienced over the past year, given the acclaim he’s received for not only Dallas Buyers Club, but also for his HBO series True Detective. He said the first time he heard that term, he did a double-take because he was unfamiliar with it.
McConaughey reiterated that while he embraced the True Detective project and its script, he will not take part in a second season.
Cate Blanchett was relieved when she heard her name called in the best actress category. In reference to her front-runner status in the race, the Blue Jasmine star asked, “What kind of pressure is it? An intense, unbearable pressure that I’m so glad it’s over.”
Blanchett — the first Australian actress to win more than one Oscar — said it was a privilege just to be nominated alongside four other talented women. She added, “The rest is just chocolate.”
Blanchett was not asked about Blue Jasmine director Woody Allen’s public spat with his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, who has accused him of sexual assault.
Jared Leto was in a playful mood after winning the first award of the night, best supporting actor. The Dallas Buyers Club star offered to let the reporters hold his statuette.
The victory was a moment the 30 Seconds to Mars rocker never expected to happen. He remarked, “I never, ever in a million years dreamed I would be here right now…it wasn’t even a fantasy of mine because it was so far-fetched.”
Leto was asked why he thanked his mother, who accompanied him to the ceremony, during his acceptance speech. His answer was simple but poignant: “She has inspired me in ways that I can talk about for days.”
Even though she was considered the favorite in the best supporting actress race, 12 Years a Slave star Lupita Nyong’o said she was “dazed” and “overwhelmed” by her win. She said it hadn’t sunk in yet, and that she was in disbelief that she was holding a “golden man” in her hands.
Nyong’o said she would celebrate her victory by heading to the Governors Ball. She then quipped, “I feel like Willy Wonka in the chocolate factory.”
Gravity was the night’s top winner, collecting seven awards. Director Alfonso Cuaron attributed the film’s success in large part to its star, Sandra Bullock.
He told reporters, “All of this is thanks to Sandra Bullock. Everything we were doing was honoring Sandra Bullock’s performance.”
Cuaron, who became the first Latino to win best director, hopes that future movies made in his native Mexico can receive the same kind of support that Gravity, which was shot in England, has.
12 Years a Slave screenwriter John Ridley said he was “proud” and “humbled” to become the second black person to win an Oscar for best adapted screenplay. He continued, “I’m thankful to the Academy and to so many people in it who rewarded this story, not so much for me but for people like Solomon.” The drama was based on Solomon Northup’s 1853 memoir.
Spike Jonze picked up the best original screenplay Oscar for Her, which explored the idea of an advanced artificial intelligence that could communicate — and develop an emotional connection with — humans. When asked if that scenario could become a reality one day, Jonze replied, “Who knows?”
Disney’s Frozen was named best animated film, and its hit song, “Let It Go,” claimed the prize for best original song. Jennifer Lee, who co-wrote and co-directed the movie, called the tune a “game-changer.”
Lee said that after “Let It Go” was written, she understood how powerful it would become, and so the script was revised as a result.
“Let It Go’s” triumph in the best original song category was a milestone victory for Robert Lopez, who co-wrote the song with his wife, Kristen Anderson-Lopez. Robert has now achieved the “EGOT,” having earned an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony during his career.
To mark the achievement, his wife presented him with an “EGOT” necklace that appeared to be made out of pasta and was made by their children. The couple has two daughters, ages 4 and 8, who lent their voices to Frozen.
20 Feet from Stardom, which showcased the backup singers of legendary artists, earned the award for best documentary feature. While the win was nice, director Morgan Neville said the real honor for him was working with the singers on the film.
Neville said, “To make a film about people who have so much talent but have been overlooked and had bad luck, and to have that film create new opportunities for them and new luck, is the best reward we could have gotten.”
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