Among the stars stopping by the Beverly Hilton interview room on their way to the Oscar Nominees Luncheon were Ben Affleck, Tim Burton, Bradley Cooper, Hugh Jackman, Denzel Washington, Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence, Naomi Watts, Quvenzhane Wallis, Robert De Niro, Christoph Waltz, Amy Adams, Sally Field, Helen Hunt, Anne Hathaway and Jacki Weaver. Absent from the press room (if not the lunch) were Joaquin Phoenix, Tommy Lee Jones, Tom Hooper, David O. Russell, Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee, Kathryn Bigelow and Quentin Tarantino. Among those not at the lunch at all were Philip Seymour Hoffman, Emmanuelle Riva, Alan Arkin and Daniel Day Lewis, who sends word from home that he and his entire family are struck with the flu. He was very sorry to miss the event.
Check out highlights of what each had to say below.
Tim Burton, Best Animated Feature - "Frankenweenie"
He showed up with his arm in a sling; he slipped and fell on the icy streets of London. "Don't worry," he said. "I'm not going for the sympathy vote."
Ben Affleck, Best Picture - "Argo"
Upon taking the podium, the producer/director/star said that he felt like he was "talking to the whole search engine." He's happy to be rubbing elbows with the directors that were nominated, and is "elated" by the seven nominations "Argo" received. He'll leave to the "Oscarologists" to determine whether or not the Directing category should be expanded as was the Best Picture category.
Bradley Cooper, Best Actor - "Silver Linings Playbook"
To prepare for his role, Cooper says he spent a lot of time with director David O. Russell's son, as well as his bipolar friends who didn't realize they were being studied. He touted co-star Chris Tucker as both a great actor and comedian, and said they got along together very well. As for whether "SLP" is a game changer for his career, he says, "Well I know I wasn't up here for 'Hangover.'"
Hugh Jackman, Best Actor - "Les Miserables"
Jackman says he was "so stalkerish about getting the role" of Jean Valjean, but says he watched none of the prior films. "I was terrified but knew I needed to make it my own…I went into 'ignorance is bliss' with Tom [Hooper]."
Denzel Washington, Best Actor - "Flight"
He recalled the 2000 Oscars when his daughter made a picture saying "You my Oscar anyway plus I don't like Kevin Space." He keeps that Oscar "right next to the other ones."
Being reminded that he is the African American with the most Oscar nominations (six), Washington reminded that there is "always room for improvement," especially for African American women.
Jessica Chastain, Best Actress - "Zero Dark Thirty"
Chastain says, "Most little girls dream about their wedding dress, but I dreamed about my Oscar dress!" She wants to wear something that celebrates a woman's body, and is a throwback to a different era. After having three Broadway shows this weekend, she admits she's tired and "doesn't know what worlds I'm in right now." She realizes that at this point in the Awards season "It starts to feel like a race,..but acting is different from tennis. I already feel like I've won. That will be very important to focus on for my family and I."
Her advice for actors trying to work their way up is to "Always do something every single day that reminds you you're an actor, even when your not getting paid,..Do it for yourself, so you don't feel like someone else is in charge of your growth as an actor." Her advice for women in any field historically dominated by men is to look at the great examples of women, like her director Kathryn Bigelow and her character Maya. "Instead of complaining about the numbers not matching, if you do really great work it will rise to the top." She says Bigelow never talks about the glass ceiling, she's simply an expert on set and a brilliant filmmaker.
Jennifer Lawrence, Best Actress - "Silver Linings Playbook"
Lawrences says that her Oscar dress mentality this year is "Suck it up, wear a corset." As for the hype, she says "No one in my family gets in, their like 'wha?'" And then the night of the oscars "Everyone just gets wasted." She likes having friends around her while she's getting ready so she stays out of her head.
Naomi Watts, Best Actress - "The Impossible"
She agrees that the film's Production Designer, Eugenio Caballero's work, should have gotten nominated, and that there were many others involved with her film whose work went unrecognized. "Maybe because not enough people have seen the film," she says.
Quvenzhane Wallis, Best Actress - "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
She clarified her name, and says that her friends call her Q. On being the youngest Best Actress nominee in history, she says, "I'm happy and excited but this something that you'll never think will happen at your age."