×

Variety’s 10 Actors to Watch Honored at Newport Beach Film Festival

Variety celebrated the 2018 class of 10 Actors to Watch on Sunday with a brunch and panel discussion in partnership with Newport Beach Film Festival at the Resort at Pelican Hill.

NBFF also presented honors to several artists, including Topher Grace, Colman Domingo, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who were all recognized with artist of distinction awards. Robert Forster received the icon award.

Domingo, star of “Fear the Walking Dead” and soon to be see in “If Beale Street Could Talk,” dedicated his award to his mother, who passed in 2006. He recalled how she would tell him, “I wrote to Oprah!” to help her son. He noted when his mother passed away, “I was so distraught and destroyed, I said, ‘I don’t know what to do with all this love.’” His friend told him, “You’re going to put it all into your work.” He then noted he has since worked with Oprah Winfrey in “Selma” and seen his career blossom. “My mother’s dreams have come true for me.”

Both Grace and Winstead had high praise for their directors. Grace plays KKK Grand Wizard David Duke in Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman,” while Winstead portrays a trouble comedian in Eva Vives “All About Nina.” Grace said on the red carpet, “I didn’t want to play David Duke. I wanted to play David Duke in a Spike Lee joint.” Winstead noted, “I would absolutely not be here today without Eva.”

Accepting his icon award, Forster quipped, “It’s great to be overrated!” He then joked, “Like Variety, I’ve been in this business since 1905.” He added that over his long career, he thought about quitting several times but then reminded himself, “Bob, you can win it in the late innings.” He noted he’s doing some of his best work in recent years, citing his work in his current film “What They Had” as an example.

During the 10 Actors to Watch panel, those present spoke about their early roles. “Black Panther” breakout Letitia Wright said she was hooked on acting after playing Rosa Parks in a school play at age 12. “A Simple Favor” star Henry Golding was a TV host in Singapore when he was asked to audition for the lead role in “Crazy Rich Asians,” his first professional acting gig. In fact, he was on his honeymoon in South Africa when he got the call to come in and had to cut his vacation short. “I’m still making amends,” he joked. “And that’s what a lot of these people who work in film sacrifice is the time with their loved ones, from the writers to producers to the lighting guys to makeup artists. It’s the sacrifice we pay to create art.”

Golding’s “Crazy Rich Asians” co-star Gemma Chan, who also appears in the upcoming drama “Mary Queen of Scots,” said the success of their film has been a joy to witness, particularly seeing “people sharing all their costumes from dressing as the characters.” When it was mentioned that many people dressed as Zazie Beetz’s character Domino from “Deadpool 2,” the actress noted it was flattering but also, “I’m a little surprised they’ve watched the movie.”

Several of the actors spoke about working with their iconic directors. Though she’s been acting for years in her native country of Mexico, Marina de Tavira admitted to being somewhat intimidated when she met with Alfonso Cuarón to portray a mother struggling to hold her family together in his autobiographical “Roma.” John David Washington noted he’s still processing the fact Spike Lee asked him to play the lead in “BlackKklansman.”

Young stars Elsie Fisher (“Eighth Grade”) and Cailee Spaeny (“On the Basis of Sex”) spoke about hoping to chart long careers by working with artists who excite them. Russell Hornsby, now on screens in “The Hate U Give,” said he hopes to make movies that are meaningful but also that his mother will enjoy. Noting that Washington’s mother, actress/singer Pauletta Washington, was in the audience, he was asked what her favorite movie of his is. “The next one,” Washington quipped with a laugh.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) in

    'Morbius,' 'Ghostbusters' Sequel and More Sony Movies Pushed Back to 2021

    Sony Pictures has pushed back many of its major tentpoles — including “Morbius,” “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” “Uncharted” and “Peter Rabbit 2” — to next year, the studio announced on Monday. Jason Reitman’s “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” has moved from July 10, 2020, to March 5, 2021; Jared Leto’s “Morbius” has been pushed back from July 31, 2020, to [...]

  • Anne Hathaway to Star in 'French

    Film News Roundup: Anne Hathaway Stars in 'French Children Don't Throw Food'

    In today’s film news roundup, Anne Hathaway will portray an American journalist in Paris, blockbuster director Michael Bay signs with Sony Pictures, and “Extra Ordinary” and “The Etruscan Smile” are added to arthouse streaming services. CASTING Anne Hathaway is starring in the movie “French Children Don’t Throw Food,” based on Pamela Druckerman’s autobiographical book, “Bringing [...]

  • Empty movie theater

    Cinemark Cuts Employee Wages Temporarily After Coronavirus Closes Theaters

    Cinemark is temporarily reducing wages for all U.S. employees while its theaters remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. With these measures, workers salaries will be cut by around 50%. All employees are working reduced hours and will still maintain full benefits. Cinemark’s CEO Mark Zoradi and the board of directors are voluntarily forgoing their [...]

  • Lionsgate

    Lionsgate Layoffs Hit Feature Film Marketing and Distribution Department

    Lionsgate has laid off nearly 20 employees, primarily in its feature film marketing and distribution department, sources tell Variety. The cuts had been in the works for months as part of a restructuring and were not influenced by the coronavirus outbreak, Lionsgate said. No other layoffs are currently planned, and most, but not all, were [...]

  • Visions du Réel Reimagined as Digital

    Switzerland's Visions du Réel Reimagined as Digital Only Event

    Visions du Réel, a film festival in Nyon, Switzerland, has changed the format of its next edition to accommodate the restrictions imposed by the Swiss government in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Originally planned to run from April 24 to May 2, the festival will now be a digital-only event held over a longer period, [...]

  • SAG-AFTRA HQ

    SAG-AFTRA Announces Dues Extension Program for Members During Coronavirus Pandemic

    SAG-AFTRA has developed a program to provide dues relief for SAG-AFTRA members during the Covid-19 pandemic with an extension of the May 1 deadline. “Members experiencing financial hardship resulting from work stoppages related to Covid-19 will be granted a due date extension and an installment plan for those payments,” the union said. “As part of [...]

  • Studio Babelsberg

    Terminated 'Matrix 4,' 'Uncharted' Film Crews Demand Help From Studio Babelsberg

    Germany’s Studio Babelsberg is seeking to find a settlement with hundreds of film crew members following the shutdown earlier this month of Warner Bros.’ “The Matrix 4” and Sony Pictures’ “Uncharted” amid the coronavirus outbreak. The production stop has left many independent film crew members without pay and more than 300 have formed a working [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content