Each of the 2012 Oscar-nominated actresses -- save Meryl Streep and Jessica Chastain -- showed up to meet the press at the annual Oscar Nominees Luncheon at the Beverly Hilton on February 6. (Streep did attend the lunch and posed for the group picture.) Questions ranged from Oscar dresses and nipple piercings to Marilyn Monroe and honeymooning at George Clooney's Italian villa. Below, what each had to say:
(Here's the Actors)
Best Actress Nominees: Meryl Streep, "The Iron Lady"; Michelle Williams, "My Week with Marilyn"; Viola Davis, "The Help"; Rooney Mara, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"; Glenn Close, "Albert Nobbs"
Best Supporting Actress Nominees: Melissa McCarthy, "Bridesmaids"; Janet McTeer, "Albert Nobbs" Jessica Chastain; "The Help"; Octavia Spencer, "The Help"; Berenice Bejo, "The Artist"
Rooney Mara, who was in Indianapolis last night to enjoy winning the Super Bowl (her dad, Timothy Mara, is the VP of player evaluation for the Giants) said: "It was very fun and exciting, it was great." Asked of her preparation for playing Lisbeth Salander in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," she said: "She never felt that foreign to me, I always felt like I understood her and knew her." She said that her "'Social Network' character, Erica Albright, felt more foreign. She doesn't have anywhere near the intelligence of Salander, she said, but understands the way she wants to go through the world, "being invisible." While she is signed on for the two sequels, she doesn't know if or when they are going to be made. She gives credit to the editors of the film, but said: "Everyone who works with David, they never feel finished, they just give up."
And yes, she really did pierce her nipple for the role. It helped her feel less naked, and like she was always in costume. "I spent so much time on this film naked; I had to be comfortable right away, there wasn't any time to be shy," she added. She's keeping the piercing for now; "I don't want to re-pierce that if we do the other two films."
Viola Davis shared the story of how she ended up honeymooning at George Clooney's villa in Como, Italy. They saw each other at an event; she had just gotten engaged, he had just bought the villa. He offered it up, and the rest is history. Davis said it was "The greatest gift anyone could have given us. So romantic, so generous."
She's glad she is enjoying success now rather than in her twenties. She recalls doing a play when she was 28 and because of one bad review she literally lost her hair. She couldn't handle it. "I was so self-conscious, so wanting to please everyone. Now, at 46, I've just let so much of that go. You just start to connect the dots and realize you have to define happiness and success for yourself."
She feels akin to her "The Help" character, Abileen, having found her voice while doing the publicity rounds for the film. With the scrutiny she's received for taking the role, she says she's had to defend her choices. "We are in a very subjective profession; anyone could hit someone [with their work] and offend them." All we have, she said, is our voice and opinions, and for her, "it took a long time to find."
"My Week with Marilyn"'s title star Michelle Williams, asked what question she'd ask Marilyn Monroe if she had the chance, says "I think I would just want to listen, there's not one burning question in my heart." What she's learned about getting through awards season events? "Bring a snack." And no, she doesn't know (or care) whose dress she's wearing. She credits her stylists, whose talents go into dressing her.
Glenn Close was able to get "Albert Nobbs" made (not an easy feat, she initially optioned the story in 1998) because, she said, "I'm a Yankee. I've got stonewalls in my veins." She is very grateful to be among the five nominees, noting how many actors are out of work and struggling at any given time. She feels being an actor is an honor but also a responsibility -- to what each of them chose to "pump into the nervous system of the media." She added: "You've got to have a very subjective belief in what you think is good. I love telling stories that I think will have an emotional connection to people." She added that she is "proud of the little movie we made."
Octavia Spencer. "I brought you all here today to talk about how things are," she starts off. She says "I love that I'm in that room with all those luminaries. It's very inspiring. I think it will hit me like two weeks later that I was able to do this." She hopes she can be "a symbol of hope for all the other actors that have been doing it as long as I have." She doesn't consider the other nominees her peers, not yet: "I don't know you can consider yourself a peer just because you got a nomination. Maybe in five years time, but I certainly am glad to be in that room." She added, "This is my first time to the party, and I'm going to enjoy every aspect of it."
Berenice Bejo says her preparation for her role in "The Arist," despite it being a silent film, was exactly the same as it always is. She confirmed that she's chosen a gown for Oscar night, but wouldn't spill any details. "It's like Christmas, you don't want to say anything." She does say, "I just want to look pretty and feel good," and she wants her husband, "The Artist" director Michel Hazanavicius, to approve of her outfit.
Melissa McCarthy said, "It's been a pretty amazing, surreal year. I keep pinching myself." Despite her success, she still has the mentality that she'll have to go back to waiting tables and crosses her fingers that she lands a commercial or two each year. She loves the diversity in the women and their roles: "As a viewer and an actress, it's really exciting to me."
Janet McTeer said the scariest thing about playing a man in "Albert Nobbs" was "playing an Irish man in front of an Irish crew. That was a tough crowd." She says the crew did eventually warm up and became supporting, offering help and advice. On her leading lady, Glenn Close, "I want her to win waaaay more than me... That would make me very happy."