The Hollywood Reporter round table series continues with its first ever Breakthrough Performance panel. They assembled newcomers Barkhad Abdi ("Captain Phillips") and Adele Exarchopoulos ("Blue Is the Warmest Color"), along with more seasoned actors who had a breakout year, including Greta Gerwig ("Frances Ha"), Kathryn Hahn ("Afternoon Delight"), David Oyelowo ("Lee Daniels' The Butler") and Olivia Wilde ("Drinking Buddies"). Quote highlights and full video, below.
Abdi on his journey to “Captain Phillips”:
ABDI: I was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, and by the age of 6 years old the civil war started, so we were stuck in that city for about a year. And after that, my mom found a way to get us out of Somalia and we went to Yemen. I started a new life there and lived in Yemen for about seven years. And then we found the lottery visa to the U.S., and we came to Minneapolis. One day, the auditioning call came on the local TV channel, so I went there for the audition. It was a huge crowd of people. I met some friends there. We created a group of four and we practiced. We finally got called to L.A. and we got the part.
Exarchopoulos on her first meeting with “Blue” director Abdellatif Kechiche:
EXARCHOPOULOS: I was 18. And it was really not cool because he doesn’t speak a lot; he really just observes you, asks you to eat something because he loves watching people eat, so, you’re like, “OK ...” After this meeting, I was like, “I’m not going to [get] it.” And they told me, “Abdellatif wants you to come again.” During two months he was testing me and also he was making me participate with the casting. I was playing the role of Lea Seydoux, but she was already picked. But I wasn’t asking nothing because it was too weird to ask. And one day he told me, “You’re free. It’s you.”
Gerwig on starring in “Frances Ha,” and co-writing it with director Noah Baumbach:
GERWIG: I had been acting a lot, but I hadn’t been finishing anything I was writing and I sent him all this material -- of just scenes, snippets of scenes or moments of things I thought belonged in a movie -- and he thought they were interesting and good, and we started writing it. It was a year of writing, off and on. I don’t know that I thought that we would ever make it into a film. I’ve had plenty of projects where I’ve written whole scripts with people and, you know, it doesn’t happen. Once the script was done, I almost wasn’t thinking about acting in it. I’m glad I did, but I had a moment of feeling like I wasn’t sure that I wanted to, because I was so proud of it and I didn’t want to, like, mess it up or anything. But I messed it up so good! (Laughs.)