Santa Barbara fest fetes Virtuosos Award

Take two nervous gals, one Latin hottie, a pudgy funnyman, a shirtless wonder and a missing Oscar nominee and what have you got? That’s the assemblage that the Santa Barbara Film Fest anointed with their Virtuosos Award on Friday at the Arlington Theater. More than a thousand fans of Rooney Mara, Shailene Woodley, Demian Bichir, Patton Oswalt, Andy Serkis and Melissa McCarthy jammed the venue for an evening of conversation with the six rising stars, only to find that McCarthy was a no-show, the victim of laryngitis.

Bichir led the talks, dedicating his “A Better Life” perf to “my Mexican paisanos, the 11 million human beings who help this community go forward with pride and power.”

Mara quietly whispered into the mic that she is “a workaholic, and ready to get back to work” on the two sequels to “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”

Oswalt cracked jokes about his sex scenes with Charlize Theron, while Serkis did a shirtless chimpanzee imitation. “Acting with motion capture is just no different whatsoever from acting with makeup on,” he insisted. “It’s simply another way of recording an actor’s performance.”

Woodley concluded the talks. “My movie vocabulary extends to ‘The Goonies’ and ‘Dirty Dancing.’ That’s it. So this has all been pretty intimidating,” she said of the awards swirl.

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