“Everything Everywhere All at Once” star Michelle Yeoh screamed with sheer joy, “Elvis” breakout Austin Butler forgot to set his alarm clock, and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” actor Angela Bassett woke up at the crack of dawn before making Marvel history.
On the morning of the 2023 Oscar nominations, Variety spoke to this year’s contenders — including “Everything Everywhere All at Once’s” Ke Huy Quan and “Tár” director Todd Field — about getting recognized by the Academy.
Michelle Yeoh (‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’)
Best Lead Actress
Did you wake up early to watch the nominations?
I’ve been filming in London. I’ve been up all day, and I don’t know which is better or worse. When you’re asleep, you don’t think about it. I’ve been up this morning going, ‘Oh my god, oh my god, what am I going to do?’ You never think you would want something like this so much until it’s there, and you don’t know whether you can actually grasp it.
What was your reaction to seeing your co-stars — Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu and Jamie Lee Curtis — also get Oscar nominations?
I watched it together with Jonathan Wang, our producer, and Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan. We were screaming with sheer joy because we don’t want my love Jamie or Stephanie to be one or the other. Why should they be one or the other when they both deserve to be up there? So when it came out, I was like, ‘Yes!’
This is also a record year for Asian representation at the Oscars. How do you hope this shapes the film industry moving forward?
We’ve always been there, but we’ve not had the same kind of opportunities. I hope this completely changes things. I hope that we, as actors, don’t get cast because we’re African American or Asian or this or that. We are cast because we are good at what we do, and we should be given the opportunity to show that. If this is what you love, if this is what you’re passionate about and you want to be a good storyteller and be able to have your stories to be told — just don’t give up. Look at me, 40 years down the road.
What difference do you think it would have made for you growing up to see more Asian representation at the Oscars?
You are very influenced by what you see on TV or what is around you…what you see on the internet. When you see that, it’s validation. You exist. But for the longest time, you didn’t see it. I hope this completely changes things for us. We deserve it.
Austin Butler (‘Elvis’)
Best Lead Actor
Did you wake up early today to watch the nominations?
No, I set my alarm wrong, or something. So I woke up to about 20 missed calls from my publicist and agent manager. They woke me up. It also takes me a while to wake up in the morning, so I still felt as though I was dreaming. It’s going to take me a while to process.
How was the preparation for “Elvis” different than your other roles?
The training is different because I didn’t have much time. I wanted to do something very different with what I chose for “Dune.” I’m not going to give anything away, but I wanted to try to push myself in a very different direction and lean into the curiosity or fun of that. It’s a different type of physical training, as well as vocal training. But the difference is that I had a few months as opposed to a year and a half before shooting, so I didn’t have quite as much time to necessarily make it that as “Elvis.”
This movie is personal to you, as well as the Presley family. How did it feel to say goodbye to your collaborator Lisa Marie Presley at Graceland?
It’s been a devastating time. It’s a deep heartbreak that I’m still not fully able to comprehend right now. I wish she was here right now to celebrate with us.
Aside from “Elvis,” are there other films that you’re excited to see get nominations?
“Banshees of Inisherin” … I’m so happy for Martin McDonagh and Barry [Keoghan]. I could go on and on with the people that I’m happy for over at “Everything Everwhere All at Once.”
Is there a nominated movie that you’re still needing to see?
To be honest, I’m still waking up, I’ve got to look at what all the best picture nominees are.
Who are you most excited to meet at the Oscars?
I’ve been able to meet a lot of people recently. Jimmy Kimmel is a person that I love a lot. I’m excited that he’s going to be hosting.
Angela Bassett (‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’)
Best Supporting Actress
What has nominations morning been like for you? Did you wake up early to watch or did you zen out?
I wish I could tell you that I zen-ed out. I tried to zen out, but I woke up at 3:45. Just popped up, which was a couple of hours earlier than I planned to. But I couldn’t get back to sleep. I don’t know, I guess I just knew it was coming.
Your first Oscar nomination was nearly 30 years ago. What do you remember about that morning?
I remember being up all night. I did not go to sleep. I laid down 11 o’clock last night, but 29 years ago, well, I could stay up all night. I didn’t have to go to work the next day. I have to go to work today. 29 years ago, I remember the phone started to ring, but I couldn’t believe it. I remember being just struck dumb. I lost my voice. I began to whisper, “Oh my gosh.” I couldn’t believe it.
How did you react when you heard your name called for “Wakanda Forever”?
Well, I was nervous because it was the first nomination. Like, give me a moment to wake up! Well, no. I was already awake for two hours, just tossing and turning. But I was shocked that it was the first nomination, so that made me nervous.
And when your last name starts with B, you know it’s coming fast.
I realized that this morning that it’s alphabetical. So it was the first name up. I was just glad that Courntey [B. Vance] was there to share that moment with me. I wasn’t just up alone doing it.
You are now one of just four Black women to have multiple Oscar nominations, along with Whoopi Goldberg, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer.
Really? You just leave that to the statisticians because I had no idea. I don’t know, I don’t feel like I’m in that group. But I suppose I am? It has been an awful long time. I fell in love with [acting] at 15, I’ve been able to do quality work. I’ve been able to have opportunity and go to work and do work that is worthy of this type of acknowledgement. I’m very humbled and very thankful.
Have you been able to talk to your “Black Panther 2” family?
Oh, yes. I’ve got the emails. Lupita [Nyong’o] texted me, “Yes!!!!” I’m hearing from the cast and from Kevin [Feige]. [Marvel Studios executive] Victoria [Alonso] always told me I’d be in this position. She’s like, “Just believe it.” So I was like, “OK.”
Were there any other nominees that you were particularly excited to see?
Michelle Yeoh. Very excited to see her name. We worked together this film called “Gunpowder Milkshake” a couple of years ago, another all-women film, four women kicking butt. And Brian Tyree Henry. We were hanging out recently on one of the late-night chat shows. I just adore him as an actor.
Well, good luck at work today. I hope you get to have cake to celebrate.
No cake, no cake. I’ve got a dress to get into. No cake until the evening of March 12.
Ke Huy Quan (‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’)
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
How have you been processing the Oscar nominations?
Oh my god. I’m so happy. This is one of the happiest days of my life. I watched the Oscars for so many years. I always imagined being on the red carpet, being in that room. When I had to step away from acting for more than 20 years, that dream dissipated. I didn’t think it would ever, ever make its way back. But thank God it did. It is the greatest feeling ever.
Did you wake up early to watch?
I woke up early. I set an alarm clock and then our “Everything Everywhere All at Once” family was on Zoom together with the Daniels, Michelle, our producer Jonathan and I. We were reacting to the nominations as they came in. With each one, we jumped up and screamed. It’s been a wild morning.
Who are you most excited to meet at the Oscars?
I want to meet everybody. I’ve been to these events, and I’m always a kid in a candy store. I just want to run up to all those people that inspired me. I love to go up to them and get selfies, give a big hug.
Who are you going bring to the Oscars as your date?
There’s only one woman I want to bring to the Oscars. My wife, who believed in me from day one. Even when I was struggling for the longest time, she was always the one that says “Honey, don’t give up. It will happen for you one day.” For 22 years, she never once wavered in her belief in me. She is an unbelievable woman.
How does it feel to be nominated alongside Steven Spielberg, who directed you in 1984’s “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”?
It could not be better. I love that man with all my heart. It makes this whole award season even more special, having him there and having his movies being nominated and celebrated, too. At a time when he made his most personal film, that is really special.
Jenny Slate (‘Marcel the Shell With Shoes On’)
Best Animated Feature Film
You’ve been developing this character for so long. Did you ever think Marcel would get to the Oscars?
No, it wasn’t in my line of thinking. The process of creating this entire thing has been emotional. And it would probably not be the best agenda anyway to be making creative work hoping for a certain end. But I really believe in the movie. I feel proud to be here. It is one of the first times I haven’t felt full on impostor syndrome.
Have you spoken to Isabella Rossellini, who voices the role of Marcel’s grandmother?
I haven’t gotten to talk to her yet. I can’t wait to talk to her. I hold a feeling of wanting to make Isabella proud and wanting to show her that her time with us during this weird thing was worth it.
What was it like to see several of your “Everything Everywhere All at Once” cast members receive nominations?
Oh, I straight up burst into tears. Everybody in that film is so kind, and to see the actors be recognized, it really makes you feel that there are moments of true goodness in the world — where unique art is celebrated. I love everyone in that movie, but I’m truly crying to even think about Stephanie Hsu’s nomination. I’m so thrilled for her. She is incredible.
Aside from your own projects, were there any other nominees you were excited to see?
I know “Women Talking” got nominated for best picture. Sarah Polley is a genius, and I’m really happy to see that.
What would Marcel have to say about the nomination?
I think he would say this certainly calls for one of those situations where you need a bow tie, but he’s just not exactly sure how he’s going to wear that kind of thing because of his body.
Is he going to get to the ceremony on a toe nail?
We’ll see what he offered. Maybe he’ll just ride in [director] Dean [Fleischer Camp]’s pockets square. Who knows.
Guillermo del Toro and Mark Gustafson (‘Pinocchio’)
Best Animated Feature
Were you up early to watch the nominations?
Del Toro: We’re in a London hotel room, watching avidly. Imagine the reaction to a movie that, for about 15 years, we didn’t know if it was going to get made. And then it got made, it’s in the conversation. It was fabulous.
Gustafson: Hundreds of people worked on this film. The crew was our family for years. We knew we were working on something special. People poured themselves into it in a way I’ve never quite seen before. So this kind of recognition… wow, I’m so happy for my crew.
Making “Pinocchio” was a time-intensive process. How does it feel to have your work recognized by the Academy?
Del Toro: We shot 1,000 days with over 60 units of film in the bedroom. What is really important is that you have people that give you their all 100% of the time: animators, technicians, artists that carved the tools and painted them or created the puppets and animated them — some of them spending more than two years on one sequence or location. And you have one category that you must land to reward the work of all those hundreds of people.
Were there any other nominees that you were excited to see get recognition?
Gustafson: “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse,” which a friend of mine produced, was nominated for best animated short, so I’m really excited. That’s a beautiful film.
Del Toro: It’s a particularly rich and varied year. You have chamber pieces of three or four people talking, and then you have some of the most massive, spectacular movies in the last couple of decades. You have something like “RRR,” “Everything Everywhere All At Once” and “All Quiet on the Western Front.”
Gustafson: And I’ll be cheering for Cate Blanchett, a.k.a. Spazzatura in our film.
Del Toro: We’re rooting for Cate. She’s representing the monkeys — the monkeys of the world united.
Jerry Bruckheimer (‘Top Gun: Maverick’)
How are you processing Oscar nominations morning?
It’s really thrilling. I’ve been doing this for a long time. Finally, we got one that our peers recognized.
Were you disappointed that Tom Cruise and Joseph Kosinski didn’t get nominated for best actor or director?
I feel bad. It’s unfortunate. They certainly deserve it. Tom is the force behind the movie. He’s the hardest working actor you’re going to find.
Were you excited about the adapted screenplay nod?
It’s certainly deserved. The movie is a success because of our writers. It’s such a thrill to see they got nominated for their excellence.
Are you looking forward to Lady Gaga’s performance of “Hold My Hand” at the ceremony?
I can’t wait. She’s an amazing artist, and she wrote a terrific song.
Stephanie Hsu (‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’)
Best Supporting Actress
How did you find out about your nomination?
I was flying back from Sydney, Australia [where I’m] filming “The Fall Guy.” That’s a long flight. As a ritual before today, I was like, “I want to watch our movie again” — and I haven’t watched it on a plane. I just want to remember that precious moment in time before things got so shiny; that labor of love we made together before anybody knew anything about us as a family. So I watched and it primed me for the text that I got at 5:30 in the morning from the sky.
Who was the person to text you?
My friend Stef, who is a part of the “Everything Everywhere” family. She just wrote, “Holy shit.” And then we have an “Everything Everywhere” text thread, so they were next. And now I haven’t even looked at my phone because it’s gonna take a second.
Give us a little insight into the “Everything Everywhere” text thread!
There’s a lot of tears. There’s a lot of gratitude. There’s a lot of like, “Holy shit, can you believe this?” We’re realizing what this means, and that we are making history together with this little movie. We’ve broken so many records. Our movie is so much about intergenerational trauma, but this feels like such a moment of intergenerational healing that we’re getting to have publicly.
Have you already imagined where the googly eyes will be within your Oscars outfit?
Oh my God, my stylists are not going allow googly eyes on a couture dress. It’s a really good idea. I have to sneak one in. Maybe on my nail? I have two piercings on my right ear, maybe I’ll have a tiny little diamond googly-eye.
Are there any other nominees that you’re particularly excited to see?
Brian Tyree Henry. I love him! I love his work. I just met him during this award cycle, and we giggle every time we see each other because we’re such fans of each other. I am deeply excited for him. He deserves it completely.
What was the last movie that you saw in theaters?
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” It was epic. I will never forget it. This whole experience is healing a part of myself from when I was a kid, when I didn’t see that this was possible for me.
Todd Field (‘Tár’)
What does it mean to receive your first directing nomination?
Oh, man. It’s incredibly meaningful to be recognized by this group of filmmakers. It’s a little overwhelming.
Have you been able to talk to Cate Blanchett?
I’ve spoken with everyone responsible for the making of “Tár.” We’re really, really happy.
What would be Lydia Tár’s favorite movie of the year?
Oh, I think you know the answer to that.
I think it would be “Tár.”
Do you have a favorite “Tár” meme?
People send me hysterical stuff. People have taken it so far beyond what any of us would have allowed ourselves to imagine. I think Lydia Tár, herself, would appreciate it, being a lover of anagrams and wordplay.
Did you ever expect the character to resonate so deeply?
Are you crazy? Of course not. But she’s very real to me. That’s a testament to Cate Blanchett.
It was recently announced that you’re going to the Berlin Film Festival with a short film set in the “Tár” universe. Can you give a little insight on what that might look like?
No, but I’m happy to reserve a ticket for you if you’d like to come.
Do you have any other plans to expand the “Tár”-verse?
You’ll have to wait and see. We have a few things up our sleeve.
Domee Shi (‘Turning Red’)
Best Animated Feature Film
Did you wake up early to watch the nominations this morning?
Hell no! I was way too nervous to watch live. I started this tradition last time when I got nominated for “Bao” to not watch the nominees being read because I didn’t want to jinx it. And I hate that feeling of anticipation and dread and fear building up and then being disappointed. So I’ve been avoiding it every time and I’ve relied on my parents or my friends and family texting or calling me with results.
Did you wake up to your phone flooded with text messages?
Yes. That’s exactly what happened this morning. And I prefer that over clenching my fists.
How did this nomination compare to your first?
I was still nervous and excited. I felt more pressure with this movie because it’s a feature film. It’s much bigger. There’s a lot of firsts in this movie, as well. It’s the first film from Pixar to be led by a predominantly female leadership. It’s the first Pixar film to have an Asian female protagonist, to really explore and talk about female puberty and mothers and daughters and the messiness and embarrassment and craziness of growing up. And it celebrates Chinese culture as well. It was such a specific and weird and personal story. But in my heart, I knew it was going to resonate globally and universally. I just didn’t have physical evidence of that, so this is just incredibly validating for me.
Aside from “Turning Red,” were there any other nominees you were happy to see?
I’m super excited for “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” I love those guys, and I’m so glad they’re all getting their flowers now. Michelle Yeoh, who I have been a huge fan of since the 90s, I knew she was a badass queen for years, but now it feels extremely satisfying that the entire Western world knows that now. It’s like, “Yes, I’ve been telling you that for years.”
Since you’ve been to the Oscars before, you know that they don’t serve dinner. Are you planning to sneak any snacks into your bag for the ceremony?
Oh yes, I will, this time around. I didn’t last time. They don’t have snacks. They have alcohol and wine and champagne everywhere. I made the rookie mistake of accepting every glass of champagne I was offered at the award show. So this time I will bring energy bars in my clutch, and I will be drinking lots of water as well.
Does the “Turning Red” cast have a group chat?
Yeah, I [got] a text this morning from Sandra Oh, who’s our voice actress for Ming, super excited being like, “Where can we celebrate? When can we celebrate? Are you in L.A.? Let’s go!” My phone’s just been blowing up all day.
What do you hope that audiences take away from “Turning Red”?
Growing up is messy, but that’s OK. Embrace your inner wild beast.
Andrea Riseborough (‘To Leslie’)
Best Lead Actress
Were you surprised by your nomination?
In every way, and I say that with all honesty.
What were you thinking when your name was announced?
Kareem [Saleh], my other half, was looking at them, and I was busying myself with looking in the drawers next to the bedroom. He just giggled and cried with complete astonishment and joy, really.
You made the movie in 19 days. What was the budget for a film like this?
I actually don’t know despite the fact that I am an executive producer. Because I’m in this film, I was very separate from that in the process leading up to it. We knew we had such a short time to achieve what we were going to achieve. And I needed to be absolutely prepared in terms of character. We did 10 scenes a day.
“To Leslie” has become the little awards season engine that could.
The film community has rallied around and made a noise, which is been so strange to see. It’s something you secretly hope all the time. The really exciting thing about this happening is that so many more people than we have imagined are going to see “To Leslie.” Rvery year, especially in terms of international cinema, there are extraordinary performances from many films that don’t have a lot of backing that we miss out on. It would be wonderful to see more of that happening.
What did you think when Cate Blanchett gave you a shout out during her acceptance speech at the Critics Choice Awards?
Kareen saw it because he is on social media. I tend not to ask him very much about it because I’m better not knowing. But he told me, and I just couldn’t believe it really. It was surreal.
Demi Moore, Jane Fonda, Gwyneth Paltrow, Courtney Cox, Naomi Watts, Lucy Liu, Kate Winslet, Amy Adams, Laura Dern, Sally Field, Liam Neeson, Kim Basinger, Geena Davis, Edward Norton and Jennifer Aniston are just some of the people who have come out to publicly support “To Leslie” and specifically your performance. What has that been like?
I’m pretty sure that somebody’s going to say, “Oh, we made a mistake on that.” It’s unfathomable. The support has been so incredible, so miraculous, that I almost find it hard to believe.
Kerry Condon (‘The Banshees of Inisherin’)
Best Supporting Actress
Did you wake up early to watch the nominations?
Of course. It was weird. I wasn’t thinking about it yesterday, but I felt like my body was getting more nervous as the day went on. It was all new for me. I never knew years ago that the night before it comes out is such a stressful [time]. You’re so anxious about it. I got up to watch it. But I was never happier getting up at 4:30 or 5 or whenever it was this morning.
How have you been processing this Oscar nomination?
I couldn’t even write the word “Oscar” or if anybody mentioned it. It’s like, “Don’t say it. Don’t jinx it. Just forget it.” I was ridiculous leading up to it. And then yesterday, I went for a beautiful hike, and I was out in nature, and I was content. I tried to remind myself that I am content with or without this thing in my life. But obviously after 24 years, of course it is a massive deal to me.
Were there any other nominees you were particularly excited to see recognized?
I wanted Stephanie [Hsu] to be nominated for “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” I met her very early on in this whole thing, and we hit it off. She’s been lovely, and I hoped it would work out for her. I really wanted “Women Talking” to get recognized. I was just rooting for them for the best picture nom, for sure. I could be here all day, going on about how everybody is deserving.
Then, of course, [there were] people who I did think would get nominated and didn’t. My heart kind of broke for them. Sometimes my empathy can make me sad for people. I did have a moment where I thought, “I hope they’re OK, and I hope they know they’re still pretty amazing, regardless of not getting it.” To be in the conversation is massive. It’s very strange. Our work is done. It’s not like you’re an athlete, and you have this race to do at a certain time. There’s nothing you can do. You’re just kind of sitting there, and you’re at the mercy of the outcome. Meryl Streep, how many nominations does she have? She must be fucking exhausted.
What was the last film you watched in theaters?
“Women Talking.” I know those girls, and I felt so bad that I hadn’t seen it. Every time I’d see them, it was starting to feel like I was just being rude. So finally, I drove myself and paid and went to the theater — and I had to drive a little bit to go, but I’m so glad I did.
They don’t serve dinner at the Oscars, but they provide attendees with lots of drinks. Are you planning to pack your own snacks?
I won’t be drinking, that’s for sure. I’d be leg-less up on the stage if I was to be drinking on an empty stomach. You can be getting ready and that’s the last thing you think about. Then, by the time you get out of the car you’re like, “Oh, sweet Jesus… I’m starving.” So, I will be a little bit smarter this time, and then probably eat porridge before I leave the house, which usually ties me over for a good few hours.