Oscar noms do lunch

Foxx, Staunton, others discuss award season

The questions were routine at Monday’s Academy Awards nominees luncheon, but the 12 actors who made their way into the BevHilton press room managed to keep reporters off-balance.

For example, did “Vera Drake’s” Imelda Staunton expect her Oscar nomination to give her career a boost?

“Well, I bloody hope it does,” she said. “Otherwise, I’ve spent a lot of money and it doesn’t get me anywhere.”Was double nominee Jamie Foxx (“Ray,” “Collateral”) finally getting sick of standing in front of a podium?

“You know I’m a standup comedian,” the actor said with a grin. “You get used to being in front of a crowd.”And what did it mean to “Hotel Rwanda’s” Sophie Okonedo to be one of a record five African-American performers nominated this year?

“I’m not African-American,” she deadpanned. “I’m British.”


Cate Blanchett, nommed for supporting actress for “The Aviator,” even found a fresh way to talk about fashion. Enthusing that she was “a complete girl when it comes to clothes,” she nonetheless admitted that “when you walk the red carpet … and the only question you get asked is ‘What are you wearing?’ — it is a little frustrating.”

Two thesps took time to address the recent controversies swirling around their respective films.

“I’m not surprised by the discussions that have gone on,” said “Kinsey’s” Laura Linney. “Kinsey was such a controversial figure for decades, and will continue to be.” But the supporting actress nominee made no secret about her fierce — well, support — for her pic: “I think it’s a worthy film. I think it’s worthy from top to bottom. I’m profoundly proud of it.”

Hilary Swank similarly countered recent criticisms of her character’s sad fate in “Million Dollar Baby,” saying that she, Morgan Freeman and Clint Eastwood were just servicing a story.

“I don’t take on roles because they necessarily reflect my own opinion or my ideas,” she said. “I mean, that’s the great thing about acting — you get to explore so many different ideas, so many different ways of life.”

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