Backstage follies prevail

Winners see Globes as 'surreal,' 'bittersweet,' 'absurd'

Best actress winner Hilary Swank said it took her four weeks to feel comfortable acting as a boy. Explaining her onscreen dedication of her perf to the murdered Brandon Teena (who in fact was female Teena Brandon), she noted, “I said it that way for a reason: What I was trying to do was honor what Brandon was when he died.”

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The normally blond Angelina Jolie, appearing in hair dyed gray-blue, remarked when about her Globe-winning role of a charming sociopath in “Girl, Interrupted”: “The first time I saw it, I thought people would want me to be locked up.” About taking risks in playing the role — and being rewarded for it — she observed: “It shows we don’t like to be judged, and that we’re all a little crazy.”

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Tom Cruise, looking elated but tired from jet lag, said, “I’m always surprised when I win stuff.” Talking about his less-than-lovable character in “Magnolia” he explained, “I did some soul searching with this guy,” adding that developing the sometimes vitriolic machismo meant taking some extra precautions in rehearsing at home with the kids: “You get into a rhythm sometimes; you’ve got to make sure the doors are closed.”

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London’s Donmar Warehouse founder and “American Beauty’s” winning tyro helmer Sam Mendes remarked that he, too, was astonished that the hard-edged picture resonated with audiences.

“None of us thought we’d ever be standing before these sorts of things,” said Mendes, referring to the forest of cameras and scribbling pads. Mendes graphically delineated the difference between directing for film and for the stage. “Film is a bit like ‘Alien’: It lives inside of you and then explodes out, leaving you lying on the floor covered in blood, exhausted. Theater is more social, more romantic.” And what did Mendes think of getting the best director trophy from Steven Spielberg? “It’s a bit absurd, really.”

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One of the lighter moments of the evening came as “The Sopranos” creator David Chase called supporting actress winner Nancy Marchand — at home sick — from the winner’s interview stage with a reporter’s cell phone. With the crowd of reporters hushed, he waited then said, “Nancy, it’s David,” paused for a beat, then, looking frustrated, said, “David Chase.”

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Pedro Almodovar marveled that his Spanish-lingo pic “All About My Mother” was as well received here as it was everywhere else in the world. “People laugh in the same times, cry in the same places,” he noted.

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For Sarah Jessica Parker, who won for actress in a musical or comedy, the journey to get the award was a key part of winning. “You have to take that walk, that crazy walk you see on television,” she said. “It’s surreal. There’s all these stars and they’re smiling like they know you and you’re looking down at them because they’re seated.”

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Michael J. Fox, the departing topliner of DreamWorks’ “Spin City,” summed up his win as “bittersweet,” having announced his decision to depart the political laffer due to his battle with Parkinson’s disease. At one point the star said, “My mission tonight is to not weep,” and later even cracked a joke — about a vibrating stage microphone in the winner’s interview room: “This mike has P.D., it just won’t stop.”

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As would be expected, Jim Carrey, who won for actor in a musical or comedy, was one of the more lively winners backstage.

Carrey paused in answering one question to yell “Quiet down out there! It’s my time!” toward a crowd making noise off to one side of the stage. He also broke in “High Hopes” (“What makes that little old ant think he can move a banana plant?”) when asked if he had hopes for an Oscar nom. The actor said about the Academy Awards, “I’d love to have a good reason to go, but I’m not coveting it. If it comes, it’s a beautiful thing.”

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Halle Berry, who won for actress in a miniseries or TV movie for “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge,” gave what was the night’s most emotional speech. To a pressroom that suddenly got unusually quiet, Berry said “This movie was so personal: Dorothy’s struggle was so much my own — to be an African-American actress in Hollywood. Tonight, this said: ‘I’m a part of this community and I’ve been accepted.'”

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Phil Collins, who won for his original song, “You’ll Be in My Heart,” from Disney’s “Tarzan” spoke candidly about working in the Mouse’s employ: “I’d heard horror stories, rewriting until the moment before its in the cinema. But it came easily.”

Is there a difference when writing for the screen and not for a cohesive album? “It really is no different. When the mother ape hold up the baby and sings to it, as a father, I know that feeling.” Speaking of babies, Collins said that he’d canceled his upcoming tour in order to make more of them with his new bride.

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Peter Fonda, bedecked in spider-web like Oakley frames which he described as trifocals that let him know “Is that a cop? How fast am I going?’ and “Do they take this credit card,” had sworn upon arrival that there was no way he would win. In fact, he did. “And I lost a $2,000 bet. I’m speechless,” he said of win for supporting role in Showtime’s telepic “The Passion of Ayn Rand.” Fonda said he thought the role was so small it hardly merited a nom, let alone a job. “I asked myself: Why are they paying me so much to play a piece of furniture?” said Fonda adding “Obviously, I did something right.”

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