Sure, the latenight talkshows have been hamstrung by the Writers Guild of America strike, but the Oscar promotional onslaught on television continues, hardly abated — and redundant as all get out.
“I think I probably do repeat myself in answers,” says “Atonement” star Keira Knightley, “so I’m going to have to apologize. I probably should have a strategy. This is one of those things where if I had a publicist, my publicist would probably talk to me about exactly what kind of a strategy I should have, but I don’t have a publicist, so normally it just means I talk too much and talk a load of crap, which ends up in print, and then I look like a twat, which is completely fair enough, and I think I’ll just go with it.”
Knightley’s devil-may-care attitude, shared by several others in Hollywood, doesn’t mean actors avoid battle fatigue as they make the interview rounds.
Popular on Variety
“You just take a deep breath,” Denzel Washington says, “and you drink a lot of water and you do answer the same questions over and over and over and over and over. Change rooms. I don’t think there’s any way around it.”
The same sort of relentless repetition infiltrates film marketers, as a quick tour of the weeknight entertainment shows reveals.
When Washington gave “Access Hollywood” a sitdown interview in December, naturally this meant that clips from his latest film, “The Great Debaters,” would also be shown.
“Debate is combat, but your weapons are words,” Washington’s Mel Tolson exhorted amid the quick-cutting montage.
Five minutes later, a commercial for “The Great Debaters” appeared onscreen.
“Debate is combat, but your weapons are words,” Washington exhorted — again.
The saturation of the airwaves taking place before a film’s release might seem designed to burn out both the films’ stars and their auds. However, marketers comfort themselves by noting that the final push comes for a rather compressed period — just a week or so for each film.
And the clips, however repetitive, usually aren’t very long.
“I could show you (something as long) from my bar mitzvah pictures and you wouldn’t know I was being bar-mitzvahed,” says consultant Tom Sherak, former partner at Revolution Studios.
The clips’ brevity also forestalls spoiler worry, since there isn’t much the clips can offer that hasn’t already been seen in theater trailers or online.
“Once you get to the clip part of the business, which is the week before opening,” Sherak says, “people pretty much know what the movie is.”
If there is a quintessential moment of discomfort, it’s when the clip shown on a talkshow isn’t the clip the actor set up. With a laugh, Sherak recalled such incidents.
“It does happen,” he says. “But then you realize when it’s all said and done, the sun comes out the following day, people get up and go to work.”
And then go on promoting their film … again.
“You want to be a little careful sometimes in terms of how many back-to-back interviews you do, in case you get burned out and seem like you’re shortchanging the movie,” says “Into the Wild” lead Emile Hirsch.
“(But) at the end of the day, it’s not that hard — it’s talking to really nice people,” he adds. “No complaints.”