Lee was discussing his process for auditioning actors during the Meet the Nominees Feature Film event and emphasized the importance of being courteous and attentive while moving quickly. Cooper then recalled that he had auditioned for Lee for a television pilot, evoking a huge laugh from Lee — who could not remember the occasion.
“You get a chance to read for Spike Lee, you’re never going to forget that,” Cooper said. “You said ‘Hello, how are you,’ you asked me about Philly, you did the thing and you got me out quick. You were going hard. You’re a very present human being.”
Lee, whose first directing credit came on 1983’s “Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads,” expressed admiration for actors for their ability to deal with repeated rejections and asked Cooper how many times he auditioned before getting his first part. “Thousands,” he responded.
The panel included Cooper for “A Star Is Born,” Lee for “BlacKkKlansman,” Adam McKay for “Vice,” Peter Farrelly for “Green Book” and Alfonso Cuaron for “Roma.” The award will be presented Saturday night at the Hollywood and Highland Center. The three-hour panel was moderated by Jeremy Kagan, who has handled those duties since 1992.
McKay responded to a question about how he dealt with stress during the shoot by saying he’d smoke — and had a heart attack during the shoot. He credited Christian Bale, who had studied Dick Cheney’s multiple heart attacks, with knowing the symptoms for enabling him to get treated right away, limiting the damage.
“And I’ve stopped smoking,” he added, evoking applause.
McKay also said Cheney’s autobiography was “useless” in preparing for the film, citing Cheney’s longstanding desire to not reveal himself. Cheney co-wrote the 2011 tome, “In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir,” with his wife Liz Cheney.
Cuaron went into detail as to how he deals with the “evil killer,” his phrase for all that can go amiss.
“There’s so much stuff that can go wrong,” he added. “There’s so much that’s not in your control.”
Lee also explained that he decided just before production began to end his film, set in the 1970s, with the 2017 Unite the Right Rally with torch-bearing white supremacists and a photo of murder victim Heather Heyer, who was killed in a car attack. “I knew that had to be the ending because we had spent the film trying to connect the past to the present,” he added.
Lee evoked applause from the capacity crowd by asserting at one point “If you’re looking for easy, this is the wrong profession.”