Backtage Interview: Melissa Leo, Actress in a Supporting Role
by Daniel Haim
Melissa Leo’s acceptance speech:
“Oh my, oh my God. Oh wow really, really, really, really, really, truly wow. I know there’s a lot of people that said a lotta real real nice things to me for several months now, but I’m just shaking in my boots here. Ok, alright. Thank you David O. Russell. I want to thank the actors, Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, he might run out for a second, Amy, my sweet sister Adams, Jack, our lovely daughters. OK. Yeah, I am kind of speechless. Golly sakes, there’s people up there too. When I watched Kate two years ago, it looked so [EXPLETIVE DELETED]. Alice Ward, your beautiful family that opened your hearts. I saw Mick here earlier. Dick, a shout out for Nana? Alright Dick’s not in the room.”
“Thank you so much, opening your hearts to all of us to make this film. I thanked David, I’ll thank him again. My family, my beautiful son who is traveling right now in South America and can’t join me. It’s ok, I’m ok Jack. My Mom and my Dad and my brother and my friends and my family. I want to thank the very most of all, the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences, the Board of Governors, and all their members, whom many of you are here today. This has been a extraordinary journey in getting to know what the Academy is about and first and foremost, thank you Academy, because it’s about selling motion pictures and respecting the work! Thank you so much.”
Backstage Interview with Melissa Leo
Q. Hey, Melissa. Congratulations, I’m right down here in front.
A. Thank you.
Q. I wanted you to win for FROZEN WINTER so it’s awesome to see you back here. And I applaud you for taking your character from the movie on stage, dropping what I think is the first ever F bomb in the Oscars. How does that feel?
A. I had no idea. Those words, I apologize to anyone that they offend. There’s a great deal of the English language that is in my vernacular.
Q. I thought it was wonderful.
A. I really don’t mean to offend, and probably a very inappropriate place to use that particular word in particular.
A. Oh, hi, 157.
A. Thank you.
Q. Well, I just wanted to ask you if you were in touch with the real life Alice Ward, and I know your character had a very extensive wardrobe. Did you take anything with you fashion wise from that character?
A. Well, the dress I’m wearing tonight I’d like to think that Alice would have liked it, and that was part of the choosing for it. She is a manager of her sons, was caught on camera quite a lot at the edges of the boxing ring, and I noticed a lot of the footage of Alice at the fights had her in white. Might not be so true anymore, but I think back in the days of black and white, it showed up well on camera. So that was some of the thought into it and into being here tonight. Alice, I did have the opportunity to meet. I could not have played her without having met her. I wouldn’t have even know where to begin in many ways. The external part of Alice was Mark Bridges, the costume designer, and David O’Russell encouraging the hair department to cut my hair shorter and shorter and dye it and all of that. But no, I don’t know that Alice’s sense of style and my sense of style are too similar in too many ways.
Q. Melissa, over here. To your right.
A. You say over here…okay, I got it. There you go, okay, good.
Q. What was it like for you when Kirk Douglas kept stretching and stretching and stretching?
A. You know, it’s really funny, you know, because he’s an old actor. If anybody is an actor, he’s an actor, right? And actually, he was doing us all this huge favor, because the longer he strung it out, the calmer I got to be. I got to take more than one glance over at Amy, who was sitting just in front of me away from where he was, I wanted to watch him because he was delightful to watch and I wanted to peek at Amy, so he strung it out in a rather delightful way for me and actually allowed a heart rate that had gotten fairly high as the category was announced to settle a little bit and wait and see what the envelope said.
Q. Hi, right in front. From WEBN in Boston. I was wondering about your experiences working in Lowell and with the Massachusetts people?
A. I’ve worked in the Massachusetts area on a number of films, and it’s a great place to shoot, and I don’t know if that’s what you’re asking about. If you’re asking particularly about being in Lowell, because THE FIGHTER, it’s not just a story based on the lives of real people, but it’s their story. It most definitely is, and we were shooting it with the Wards around us at all times, I would have to say one or another of them. And it was an extraordinarily wonderful experience and I think a lot of what makes THE FIGHTER such an incredible film is that we were there in Lowell with the actual people, and cross referencing, you know, when somebody might say something about somebody and somebody else might say something else about that same somebody. And we were right there in the town hearing the gossip and hearing the language and the dialect and all, and it was very, very helpful to the process.
Q. Melissa, AFP. I was wondering if you felt vindicated about the campaign now that you’ve won?
A. There’s nothing to vindicate, and there was no campaign. It was a photograph in a magazine; I wanted a pretty photograph in a magazine, that’s all it was.
I am so sorry, I heard that was the last one, but I have a lot of other people in the films that are up for nominations as well, and I want to run back and see them. I thank you so much, right? Thank you.