Oscars 2011: Best Screenplay Winners Seidler & Sorkin Talk King's Speech and Social Network Wins

by Sophia Savage
February 28, 2011 5:23 AM
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Thompson on Hollywood

Best Original Screenplay: David Seidler, The King's Speech

BACKSTAGE Q & A: You said you felt this movie has now given stammerers a voice around the world.  Talk to me a little bit more about that.  Why do you think that is?

A. "Well, I don't want to give away privileged information, but you know, a fairly high ranking person called me the other day and wanted to talk ex stutterer to ex stutterer and expressed their guilt at the fact that for so many years they stayed in the closet because they felt it would hurt their career to be known as an ex stutterer because people still have the archaic notion that we stutterers are feeble minded simply because it is difficult to articulate our thoughts.  And the fact that this film has come out has given so many people the courage to talk about their stuttering, and I've been flooded with the most wonderful e mails, phone calls, text messages from my fellow stutterers because I'm still a stutterer, all right.  I know all the tricks; you don't hear it.  I don't even have to think about it anymore, but I am still a stutterer.  But to have these people tell me their personal stories, really moves me to tears... 

Thompson on Hollywood
I'll give you one example.  A speech therapist spoke to me just a few days ago, that one of her clients, a teenage girl, had come in and having been terribly bullied for being a stutterer, and what do most of these stutterers do when we're bullied, we keep quiet because how can we talk back?  That's the very thing they tease us about.  But this girl was determined not to take it.  And the therapist said, 'What made the difference?  Normally, you just remain passive.'  And she said, 'Because I have a voice.'"

ONSTAGE SPEECH: "The writer's speech, this is terrifying. My father always said to me, I would be a late bloomer. I believe I am the oldest person to win this particular award. I hope that record is broken quickly and often. I'd like to thank my daughter, Maya, my son, Mark, for having faith in their dad as I have faith in you. And I would like to thank my producers, my director, my cast, there's so many people and they are saying "wrap up now." I'm sorry. I would like to thank her Majesty, the Queen, for not putting me in the Tower of London for using the Melissa Leo "f" word. And I accept this on behalf of all the stutterers throughout the world. We have a voice, we have been heard, thanks to you the Academy."

Thompson on Hollywood

Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network

BACKSTATE Q & A: You create the words and then comes that magical mystery. The actors come in, little by little, you see it forming.  Tell us about when you began to realize, "Hey, they got the right people to play this, they're handling my words, it's going..."

A. "I'll try to sum it up this way:  Like a lot of people, I grew up worshipping the movie The Graduate and I always wondered what it must have felt like for Buck Henry to see Dustin Hoffman just do it for the first time, do Benjamin Braddock for the first time in rehearsal.  And I don't wonder anymore.  I know exactly how he felt because I've seen Jesse do it and I've seen Andrew do it, Justin, Armie and his cast do it.  I know under the guidance of David Fincher who just did a mind blowing job with an incredibly talented but very, very young cast.  And that was the fear that, you know, this material isn't for beginners, but these were the youngest characters I'd ever written.  So we were going to have to find exceptional actors.  We found them all.  David got the greatest performances out of them.  It wasn't just the performances.  It was I don't know if you know, but Trent Reznor just won best score for the movie.  It was everything.  It was a triumph of teamwork.

Q. And now you stand up here with an Oscar in your hand.  The experience has been nothing but incredible I'm sure, but can you tell me how this experience has maybe changed your perspective on how you're going to approach your next film with Hollywood?  

A. "Well, I'll be very candid with you.  Lately, and really since the movie came out and it got the kind of critical reaction that it's got and cultural reaction that it's gotten, I feel like I've been hyper aware that whatever I write next is going to be the thing I wrote after The Social Network. I'm going to spend tonight enjoying this and tomorrow starting something new.  I think that's what I have to do.  I just have to keep writing, keep doing what I've always been doing which is writing, trying to write something that I like, something that I think my friends will like, something that I think my father would like and then keep my fingers crossed that enough other people will like it that I can earn a living."

Q. Can you take us back to your beginnings; what's the first award you ever won it could even be an attendance award?

A. "I'm not even sure I got that.  When I graduated from Syracuse University Drama Department, I got something called the Sawyer Falk Award for Outstanding Achievement.  Sawyer Falk had been an alumnus.  That award came with $200, the most money I'd ever seen in my life.  So I put that $200 with me, put it in my pocket and went to New York to start being a writer.  That award meant a lot to me.  I had no reason to believe that there would be another award that could come after that.  And I certainly had no reason that I'd be standing here holding this."  

Q. Do you have any words for Mark Zuckerberg or about Mark Zuckerberg and maybe want to mention the Middle East too or maybe not?

A. "Okay.  Yeah, you have to talk with somebody a lot smarter than I am about the Middle East.  As for Mark, I think he's    I don't mean to diminish anything, I think he's been an awfully good sport about this.  You know, I don't think there's anybody here who would want a movie made about things they did when they were 19 years old.  And if that movie absolutely positively had to be made, you would want it made only from your point of view, and you wouldn't want to include also the points of view of people who have sued you for hundreds of millions of dollars and, you know, had a visceral emotional reaction to you.  But that is the movie that we made.

And you know, with things like Mark's appearance on SNL, the fact that he took his whole staff to see the movie the day that it came out in the US on October 1st and, however it might be related, his hundred million dollar gift to the Newark Public School District which was met with some cynicism in the press because it was felt that it was a move to deflect criticism, I'm sure that the kids in Newark and their parents and their teachers don't care how the money got there.  So, my hat's off to Mark."

Q. I understand that you've developed a friendship with David Seidler over the course of the awards season.  Can you talk about sort of the emails that you've been exchanging and that friendship?

A. "I'm proud to say I've got a romance going with David.  I think that his screenplay for The King's Speech is remarkable.  I think the whole movie is remarkable.  I couldn't be a bigger fan of the movie or of David.  And I think it started when I asked around and I got his email address after I saw the movie because I had to write and tell him how much I loved him.  I'd never met him before I had any interaction with him.  He emailed back and we began emailing each other every few days.  You know, once Thanksgiving hits, if you have a movie that's in the conversation, you're kind of going to some kind of award show every Saturday or Sunday night.  So we would see each other either here or London.  And I've grown to love him very much."

ONSTAGE SPEECH: "Thank you. It's impossible to describe what it feels like to be handed the same award that was given to Paddy Chayefsky 35 years ago for another movie with "network" in the title. His was an original screenplay, this is an adaptation of a book by Ben Mezrich, so I'm accepting this on his behalf as well. There are a lot of people who've worked hard in my corner for a long time, it seems like the right moment to thank them. My assistant Lauren Lohman, my researcher, Ian Reichbach, my long suffering press rep, Joy Fehily, and all the women of Prime, Rich Heller, Bill Tanner, Andy Forshay, my agents Ari Emanuel and Jason Spitz who never blow my cover and reveal that I would happily do this for free and my Mom and Dad, who made a life for me where I get to be a part of nights like this.

I wrote this movie, but David Fincher made this movie and he did it with an ungodly artfulness. Someone this talented has no business being the nicest guy in the world, but he is and he made the movie of any screenwriter's dreams he had help from Amy Pascal, Michael Lynton, and everyone at Sony whose only mandate was to make it good. From Dana Brunetti, Ceán Chaffin, Mike De Luca, and America's best living film producer, Scott Rudin and from Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, Armie Hammer again, Rashida Jones, Rooney Mara, and a cast and crew that followed their leaders example that good enough was never good enough. This movie is going to be a source of pride for me every day for the rest of my life that is an un-repayable gift all I can say is thank you. Roxy Sorkin, your father just won the Academy Award, I'm going to have to insist on some respect from your guinea pig. Thank you very much."

[Courtesy of the © Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.]

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