The 68th annual Golden Globe Awards took place on January 16, 2011, at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California. Here is what this Golden Globe winner said backstage in the Golden Globe Awards press room.
Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
You’ve been an actress for a long time, so what’s led up to you getting so much award recognition in the last few years?
Thank you so much for asking me that. I have been acting for 30 years. It’s the only thing I ever wanted to do since I was a little girl, pretending with my dolls. And I found Peter Schumann and his Bread and Puppet Theatre. And I found out other people, even grown-ups, like to pretend. And people would come and sit in the audience, and we could make them believe things that were just pretend. And it was really quite an amazing thing.
Since then, I’ve gone through any door that said “acting.” I studied in London for a little while. I went to SUNY [State University of New York] Purchase for a little while. I came into this city, and started working. And I realized after a brief meeting with Bill Murray that if I wanted to act, I should go only after acting. I put all else aside, had a lot of friends that fed me and housed me for the next couple of years while I looked for work.
And I got really lucky. I got on “All My Children.” I did a play at the Public [Theatre], and on it went from there. I have a son. He’s 23 years old. I raised him on the back of acting. It is my pleasure to share what I do with people. And to be here tonight with this extraordinary honor, I’m beside myself with happiness. Amazing.
You were very enthusiastic in your Golden Globes speech. What was fueling that enthusiasm?
It’s just really thrilling to be here. I have never been invited to the Golden Globes. With “Frozen River,” we were told we could stand outside the edges at some party, and look in, and watch it on the TV. It’s just thrilling to be here. It’s a wild weekend in Los Angeles, as you all know. And leading up to this, it was a relief to have a quiet morning today for the first time in a little while.
I just came very full of excitement. I had been nominated, Christian [Bale] nominated, Amy [Adams] nominated, Mark [Wahlberg] nominated, the film nominated. There was a lot of reason to come quite full of excitement, and to hear my name announced was shocking to me, I have to say. I don’t know if I’m quite over the shock.
In your acceptance speech, you seemed to be happy that a lot of actresses over the age of 40 (Jane Lynch and Annette Bening) were winning awards tonight. Can you elaborate?
Well, I’m 50 now. Ten years ago, I turned 40, and I feel like it’s my culture says it’s over then, especially for us of the female persuasion. My career began to blossom. I just kept on going and doing the next right thing in front of me.
This young man here with me tonight, Adam Davenport, he was making a student film for his Yale thesis. Would I go and do that with him? I did that with him — anything to be working all the time. And then that began to generate more work and so on.
And in the last 10 years, it’s been extraordinary. The last 10 years have included “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada,” Tommy Lee Jones directing; “21 Grams,” Alejandro Iñárritu directing; and the television job that I have on HBO now, with David Simon, on “Treme.” Things are going great!
Are you doing Season 2 of “Treme”?
We are shooting Season 2. My company right now is in the middle of the fourth episode. I have one more to do. I’ll do it on [January 18, 2011].
What do you know about the story line for your character on “Treme”?
We know very little. David really likes it that way. You can get idea sin your head, if you think you know where you’re going. He has a careful construct of who knows how long and how many years of it, the notion being that each season being one year closer to now, post-[Hurricane] Katrina. So we’re back there, portraying the lives of people who suffered through Katrina and the flooding of that city that came after. And now, they’re in their second year.
Sometimes getting started after a great disaster can be a little easier and needing to follow through now in the second year, things can get a little rougher. That’s just a guess of where he might be headed. I like playing the game with David Simon and all of our writers that it’s sort of like life: It unfolds as you receive the episode. I’ve been so busy this week, and I received [on January 15, 2011], I think it was, what is my fifth episode, and I’ve haven’t been able to open it yet, and I’m dying to!
What was it like working with “The Fighter” director David O. Russell?
I simply would not be here without David O. Russell. I went for what I thought was a meeting to discuss the idea of my playing the part of Alice Ward. Within moments, that man, with his energy and excitement, convinced me that he had total belief and faith that I could play this part.
Even beyond that. It wasn’t even a conversation of whether I would or wouldn’t. I was playing it. “What do you think about this idea about Alice? What would you do with that about Alice?” And there we were, suddenly working together.
And he gave me an opportunity to meet Alice Ward herself, which was integral to my being able to play her. Mark Wahlberg had paved this road with the Ward-Eklund family that allowed us a glimpse into their lives — larger than what you experienced seeing in the film. They opened their hearts and their stories to us, their photo albums, so that [“The Fighter” costume designer] Mark Bridges and the hair people could look at the photographs and get an accurate portrait on the outside.
It was Alice Ward herself who led me into the inside of the character, and I will be forever grateful to her. She is still sick in a Boston hospital. I had word from them yesterday that she is holding steady, but in fragile condition, so good thoughts to her from all of you, if you could be so kind.
You mentioned earlier that your career in the past 10 years has been a series of right things. Has your success given you a lot more “right things” from which to chose?
Yeah, I don’t think I would’ve gotten offered “Treme” if I hadn’t gone so far. I knew David Simon, but he had done lots of things since I worked with him. I hadn’t heard from him until I got the Oscar nomination for “Frozen River.” I know for a fact that David O. Russell would not have met with me. Mark Wahlberg said, “Hey, did you see ‘Frozen River’?” to David. And David watched that, and that’s why I got invited to the meeting.
Yes, finally, after all these years of being an actor, and having it be the thing that makes a living, this thing I see with other actors who have directors they work with time and time again and definitely leads to work, I think for Melissa Leo, finally at long last, work is indeed leading to work. And people will begin to realize that all these different women that I play are in fact played by me. I can turn up like this [she points to her dress], I can turn up in my jeans, I can turn up as Ray Eddy, and I can turn up as Alice Ward. What do you got for me next?
For more info: “The Fighter” website
Golden Globe Awards website
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