By Stacy Jenel Smith and Emily-Fortune Feimster
was jonesing for a burger, Mo'Nique tickled herself and Jeff Bridges sounded like his "Big Lebowski" Dude when they met with media last night after winning their Oscars at the 82nd Academy Awards in Hollywood. Bullock, fresh from winning her Best Actress Oscar for "The Blind Side," was asked what hubby Jesse James had whispered in her ear when she won. She answered, "You expect me to tell you that? Poor dear, you have to ask, don't you? I'd never divulge what Jesse said unless he divulged it first." But, he was tearing up in front of the whole world. What would make a tough guy like him cry? "He doesn't cry," she intoned. "The dance number was very dusty ... he's right there. Don't piss him off."
Dealing with questions both serious and silly with her own special brand of down-to-earth poise, Bullock reminded all of why she's so popular with the public.
Asked what she planned to do to celebrate, she said, "Food. I want a burger. I want to eat and not sweat it, not worry that the dress will bust open, just eat."
Bullock said that her joking smooch with Meryl Streep got so much attention "because no one expects Meryl to go with the flow like that. People don't know how much fun she is. Everything that Stanley Tucci says is right," she went on, referring to Tucci's introduction of Streep when the Best Actress nominations were being recited. "She's an awesome broad and extraordinary actor."
She did not dish the details on George Clooney
throwing her in a pool -- the incident she alluded to in her acceptance speech -- though she did add that Tom Cruise was involved as well. She was asked to elaborate, but, "George looked so tired tonight. I saw his little eyes tonight. You'll have to ask him about that ... it was funny to everyone else but me."
She was asked for her comments on the irony of winning a Razzie Award one night and an Oscar the next. "They're going to sit side by side, as they should," she says. "We're the entertainment business. That is what we're supposed to do. I had the best time at the Razzies last night. It probably means more that they both happened at the same time because it's the great equalizer," she added, and said that there's always something that comes along to keep her from getting carried away with herself. Then, she said again, "They'll sit side by side -- maybe the Razzie on a lower shelf."
Bullock assured that her new status as an Academy Award winner will not see her turning her back on popular movies in favor of art house fare. "I want to do everything," she said. "I'm one of those people who doesn't do what people tell me to do. Just because I do a commercial film doesn't mean I'm not going to do a wonderful small art house film. I don't know what I'm going to do next. I'm sure I'll make mistakes and make people roll their eyes and then do something that works."
What advice would she give young aspiring actresses who'd like to be in her shoes? "Don't aspire to be in these shoes," she replied. "Walk in your own ... my mother beat it into our heads to be original. I didn't understand that 'til years later. Just savor what you are."
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Forget Tony Danza -- it was Oscar winner Mo'Nique who showed the Academy who's the boss backstage! She arrived to cheers and applause -- some of the reporters even stood -- when she came into the interview room. She quickly took control, directing which questions she'd take -- or, redirecting, to be accurate. She selected different reporters to answer than the Academy's press room coordinator, explaining that "They're the ones who came to me when no one else did."
When the publicist pointed out that one particular journalist didn't have a microphone, Monique confidently responded, "It's as simple as walking." Ah, snap! Give a girl an Oscar and she's going to do what she wants!
It's the same confidence the comedian/actress had on stage when she thanked the Academy for making her win about the performance and not the politics. Monique expanded on those thoughts backstage. "Some journalists, probably some of you in here, wrote that someone needs to teach Mo'Nique a lesson and I'm very proud to be a part of an Academy that says I will not play that game. We will judge her on her performance and not by how many dinners she attended or how many pictures she took."
The role of Mary Jones has not only proven to be a huge career boost for Mo'Nique, but she told us more importantly it's made her a better person. "This role was so not about my acting career. This role has shaped my life to love unconditionally. If that helps my career, then great."
Reminded that she has said she's a standup comic, not an actress, and asked what she says now, she replied, "I am a standup comedian who won an Oscar." When the room erupted in laughter, she laughed, too, and said, "Oooh, baby. I tickle me!"
Mo'Nique, by the way, chose to wear a blue dress and a gardenia in her hair in tribute to McDaniel, who also wore a blue dress and a gardenia when she became the first African-American Oscar winner, for "Gone With the Wind." And to McDaniel: "It's about time the world feels you all over them."
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Jeff Bridges, who caused much Twitter speculation as to his apparent high spirits during the Oscar show, walked into the press room carrying a champagne flute and wearing a big smile. The well-liked "Crazy Heart" Best Actor Academy Award winner was asked to look back on his career, and remarked, "Well, you know what the Dudes say ... strikes and gutters, man."
When he said that he hopes the film promotes, "peace, understanding and prosperity in the world," there were smiles all around from those who thought Jeff was joking. He wasn't. He went on, "Really -- movies are more than entertainment. Music is the same way. Music and movies are a common thread for all of us." His Oscar win will raise his profile higher again, he noted, and "I'm all about getting us all together and getting the world healthy." Bridges commented that in the world of movie making, people of divergent tastes and different opinions can get together and "make the most beautiful movies" -- and suggested that could work as a model for the larger world coming together as well.
Bridges expects to continue making music, "I've been writing music since I was a kid" and now feels even more enthusiastic about, thanks to the film.
When asked what he thinks is his key to success, he said, "The first thing that jumps into my mind is my wife, my support, you know? She holds that kite string ... it's so sweet being reeled back in and coming back home. We've been apart 11 of the last 14 months," he said. He thought, then added, speaking of his three daughters, "The girls are like the tail of the kite. They keep me centered like that."
Bridges also wanted to let everyone know, "The exciting thing is, this award brings attention to a great movie," he said. "I was surprised that with 10 nominees, 'Crazy Heart' didn't make it. One aspect of what these awards are all about is to bring attention to the great movies that we've made. I'm all for these 10 nominees. I hope people go to see 'Crazy Heart.'"
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Ironically, the year the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided to expand the list of Best Picture nominees from five to 10 -- in hopes of including more popular fare and thus gaining bigger television ratings than in years packed with obscure art house movies -- was the year they needn't have bothered. With the highest-grossing blockbuster of all time, "Avatar," in the running, it's a moot point this year. Add to that the fact that this year's acting categories were full of superstars, including America's Sweetheart and box office queen Bullock. She (and nominees the likes of George Clooney and Matt Damon) surely brought fans to the tube for Oscar this year. And then, there was the juicy Best Director category with ex-husband and wife Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron.
Bigelow, whose "The Hurt Locker" was named Best Picture of 2009 -- one of its six Oscars -- continued her steadfast politeness about her former spouse when she came to chat with press backstage.
"You left me speechless," she responded to one reporter. When another reporter asked if she learned anything from Cameron, Bigelow took a small breath and graciously said, "Jim is very inspiring. He inspires filmmakers all around the world and for that we are all grateful." A classy woman, as always!
Bigelow, who made history as the first female director to win for Best Director, advised, "I would say to never give up on your dreams. I've been making film for 30 years, so when I say don't give up on your dreams, I mean it quite literally. But, work on stories that you truly believe in and then no obstacle is too great."
Even though Bigelow herself made history, she hopes this win will help people to think of her solely as a filmmaker. "First of all, I hope I'm the first of many," she said of being the first female winner. "I'd love to just think of myself of a filmmaker and I long for the day when a modifier can be a moot point. I'm ever grateful that I can inspire some young intrepid tenacious male or female filmmaker to never give up on their dreams."
It certainly is a dream come true for the little movie that could, especially beating out a box-office giant like "Avatar." "I don't think I ever dared to hope, but I will say that what was extraordinary was the love the critical community. That was like wind in sails, which created a movement that did not stop. I hope they know how much we appreciate it," said Bigelow of the help the press gave the movie.
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Best Supporting Actor winner Christoph Waltz ("Inglourious Basterds") was a big hit with German reporters who were excited to ask the actor questions in their native tongue. Luckily, the Oscar winner obliged the English-speaking crowd too by telling them what an honor it was to win. However, winning was never something he imagined happening.
"I saw that this movie was really good. This, I did not see coming," said Waltz as he pointed to his golden statuette. "I was too busy. I couldn't think of awards. I would advise, if I may, every beginning actor to not think of awards before starting the job."
For this actor, it really is about the work. "When you first start out, you dream of doing certain things and then you move on with reality. When you meet someone like Quentin, he brings back a lot of what you intended to do."
In the end, Waltz was able to focus on the work and win a huge award in the process, which has made him a big hit with American fans and press alike. "It's mind-boggling," he admitted of the recent press. "It's very fantastic, but it's very intense. I couldn't have possibly imagined that it would be like that. Tomorrow, I'll probably be sorry it's over."