Few Oscar contenders will ever be able to top Brenda Blethyn for the most memorable moment of hearing of her nomination: She was with the O.J. Simpson jurors.
In L.A. to film Charlie Peters’ “Music From Another Room,” the actress went to NBC in Burbank to do a live feed on her reaction to the nominations. She spent some time in the green room with the jurors and, after her name was announced, “They were so sweet to me. Later, people said to me, ‘An Oscar nomination! You’re famous!’ And I said, ‘I’ve just been sitting with the most famous people in America.’ ”
Yes, they were sweet, but did they award her any damages? “Only punitive,” she laughed.
Will she be coming to L.A. for the Oscars? “Ooh, you try to stop me!”
Billy Bob Thornton of “Sling Blade” got word of his nominations from an unusual source: Mark and Brian, the zany morning team from KLOS-FM. They had Thornton’s cell phone number and rang him up just after seven in the morning, as he was traveling on a train.
After the radio duo filled him in live on the air, Thornton inquired politely, “You guys aren’t shittin’ me, are you?”
Later in the day, Thornton admitted to still being somewhat in a state of shock over the nods. “I get embarrassed pretty easily by something like this,” he said. “I spend most of my time on the sofa watching TV.”
Barbara Hershey admitted she didn’t sleep well the night before. “But this is much better than coffee for getting up in the morning. If Starbucks could package this, they’d make a fortune. I really woke up, I’ll say that much.
“When you act in films, you act in a vacuum,” she added. “You don’t really feel the audience. At a moment like this, you realize that people have seen your work and felt it. That’s one of the most touching things about a nomination.”
“The English Patient” writer-director Anthony Minghella was in Australia.
“So many people told me it was a novel that couldn’t be adapted,” he said. “It was an enormous challenge. Every day I felt I was hanging by my fingertips. I was helped by a great team, a great crew, and many of those people have been acknowledged by the Academy.”
Producer Saul Zaentz was with Minghella at the house of director of photography John Seale, having “a little Oscar nomination party.” “It’s a vindication, in many ways, with all the troubles we had getting the film made. You know who was a great help? Sydney Pollack. He read the script and liked it. He went out on a limb for us. Finally, Harvey (Weinstein) listened to him.”
At 3 a.m. in Australia, “Shine” director Scott Hicks said, “I just sat down on the carpet, which is the first time I’ve touched down tonight. I’m on a total adrenaline high.”
The veteran documentarian said he has a host of projects in development, including a deal with DreamWorks. Are people kneeling at his feet, begging to work with him? “I have been saying ‘Arise’ a lot,” he joked.
Cinematographer Caleb Deschanel garnered the sole nomination for Col’s “Fly Away Home.” “It wasn’t a film that was a huge success,” he said. “You always worry about who sees it.”
(Ray Richmond contributed to this report.)