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Jennifer Jason Leigh on Being Handcuffed to Kurt Russell in ‘The Hateful Eight’

After years of outstanding performances, Jennifer Jason Leigh has earned her first Oscar nomination, for her portrayal of Daisy Domergue, the female fugitive at the center of Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight.”

How did you get the news about the Oscar nomination?

I woke up to a bunch of texts on my phone. I didn’t wake up to watch it, but a lot of my friends did. My mom was incredibly happy for me. It was nice to be able to have that with her, because the last time there was this much talk about it was for “Georgia,” which my mom (Barbara Turner) wrote. And it sounds corny, but I do feel this nomination is a reflection of the work we all did; I share it with all the Haters.

For your audition, I believe Quentin read the script with you?

It was funny, because they sent me the script except for the last chapter. And when I got there, he gave me the last chapter. It was daunting, but he came into the room and sat with me, and read the role with me. It took a lot of my fear away, because we were just acting together and acting is playing. And he reminds you of that. He gives you a sense of freedom and joy.

But the final chapter has more dialogue for you than you have in the rest of the entire movie.

That’s why it was so daunting. I’m shy, so for me to communicate without speaking, I’ve got that in my back pocket. But suddenly Daisy has these huge monologues, pages of it! It would have been terrifying if (Quentin hadn’t been there).

It was reportedly a long shoot in freezing temperatures.

It was hard, it was cold, and I was covered in blood for most of the time. But you feel so privileged to work with Quentin, and there’s such a sense of celebration on set. It’s called “The Hateful Eight,” but we’re the mushiest, most sentimental group of guys there are.

Can you talk about the challenges of being handcuffed to Kurt Russell?

We started early in rehearsal with those and realized it was a lot to contend with. But within three days, we were dancing around each other like we’d been doing it all our lives. Still, when I look at my right wrist or touch my right wrist, I think of Kurt Russell.

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