On stage during the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the big winners were the ensemble casts of American Hustle, Modern Family, and Breaking Bad. But backstage at L.A.’s Shrine Auditorium, the stars opened up in ways they didn’t at the podium.
Supporting actor winner Jared Leto, who continued his awards-show momentum with another win for his supporting role in Dallas Buyers Club, thanked his mother (and date for the evening) for always encouraging him to pursue his creative dreams. To prepare to play the transgender woman Rayon, Leto said he sought out transgender people as mentors to help him develop Rayon’s voice and physicality. Attention, Thirty Second of Mars fans: The band will play in Mexico on Tuesday and continue its worldwide tour through the rest of the year.
Lupita Nyong’o, a budding fashionista and Supporting Actress winner for 12 Years a Slave, seemed humbled by all the attention she has been getting this awards season because of her wardrobe choices. “I appreciate the fashion world as an art form,” she said, “but I never want it to take over my acting.” Nyong’o gave reporters a quick lesson in the pronunciation of her last name — it’s NYON-go — and noted the universality of her movie even outside the U.S.: “Slavery is an institution that affected a lot more places than just America.”
The cast of Modern Family, celebrating the show’s fourth consecutive award for Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series, is preparing to hit the road. They head to Las Vegas tomorrow to film an episode, and producers are planning another this season to be shot in Australia. Though there’s still no script for the Down Under episode, Julie Bowen did reveal that producers had asked her if she was afraid of heights or fanged animals. (Bowen’s onscreen hubby Ty Burrell, who won Male Actor in a Comedy Series, had better be careful.)
Michael Douglas, whose performance as Liberace in HBO’s Behind the Candelabra has earned a SAG as well as an Emmy and Golden Globe, noted that Steven Soderbergh’s film was released theatrically outside the U.S. (and even picked up several BAFTA nominations earlier this month). Though he says he contractually can’t say anything about his role in Marvel’s upcoming Ant-Man movie starring Paul Rudd, Douglas says his kids are happy to see him working as an actor again after “a few years where I just made pancakes.”
Undeterred by construction noise outside, Julia Louis-Dreyfus couldn’t contain her excitement about winning Best Actress in a TV Comedy for Veep. Even better, just before entering the press room Louis-Dreyfus heard from fellow SAG winner Helen Mirren that the dame is a fan of the show. “That’s kind of cool, right?” said Louis-Dreyfus. But when asked if she would ever consider a real career in politics, the former Seinfeld star firmly said, “No, you don’t want me to be president.”
Speaking of Mirren, the actress admitted that not only was she surprised by her SAG Award (“I so didn’t expect to win”) but her role in the HBO movie Phil Spector was a last-minute thing as well. When Bette Midler injured her neck after one week of filming, director David Mamet Helen Mirren on vacation in Italy and asked if she would step in and start filming the next day! “The whole landscape of drama on film is changing rapidly,” she said, citing the work of HBO, Showtime, and streaming sites like Netflix. “I’m just happy to still be working at a time when things are changing.”
“I’m the lady who said the bad word,” joked Rita Moreno as she entered the press room. The member of the elite EGOT club was delighted to add a SAG Lifetime Achievement Award to her mantle. She admitted concern about the one-minute time limit she was given for her speech — “Wait a minute. I’m Puerto Rican! I can’t even say hello in one minute!” — but appreciated her introduction by longtime friend and former Electric Company costar Morgan Freeman.
The cast of Breaking Bad continued its post-final-season victory tour, picking up the award for won for Best Ensemble in a Drama Series. Aaron Paul, who dubbed it “the longest, greatest goodbye ever,” said he started rewatching the series when they began filming the final eight episodes (he’s still only on season two). Bryan Cranston, who also won Best Male Actor in a Drama Series, gave full credit to the press for supporting the gritty series. The cast said they hope to stay in touch with one another — thanks primarily to shared enthusiasm for golf and tequila shots. Paul said, “We knew from day one that these friendships wouldn’t die when the show died.”
Amy Adams said she can’t wait to bring home her SAG Award for her work on the American Hustle ensemble to her 3-year-old daughter, Aviana. “She’s gonna like this one a lot,” said Adams. Alluding to the fact that the statuette depicts an anatomically accurate naked man, she added, “A particular aspect of this one she will find fascinating.” Costar Jennifer Lawrence, cursing at Bradley Cooper when he ducked out early, fielded a question about working back-to-back with director David O. Russell on Silver Linings Playbook and Hustle. “David doesn’t change,” she said. “He stays the same.” And acting veteran Robert De Niro revealed that the biggest challenge of his brief cameo in Hustle was learning Arabic.
Cate Blanchett, a winner for Blue Jasmine, sang some of her favorite Beatles tune “When I’m Sixty-Four” for reporters and said that she hopes Australian customs agents would be kind to her with all the new awards she’ll be toting back home with her.
Matthew McConaughey said that the hardest part about losing weight to play an AIDS patient in Dallas Buyers Club was deciding to do it. “I became a nice little hermit and enjoyed it,” he said. “In a very literal sense, I was hungry for knowledge, research, information. Trying to get to the core of my man.” When filming was done, McConaughey’s first indulgence was an ultimate cheeseburger that took the actor 45 minutes to mentally prepare to eat. “The friend I was with had finished his dessert before I took my first bite.”