Oscars: You never forget your first time
BY MICHAEL CIDONI / Associated Press
LOS ANGELES » The glamour. The gowns. The limos. The worldwide audience. And all those superstars.
The Academy Awards are Hollywood’s grandest pageant, and no matter how celebrated one’s stardom, a trip to the Oscars is unforgettable. Especially the first one.
Nicole Kidman’s first time was back when she was still Mrs. Tom Cruise. She remembers being wowed by the scene and the sound of the screaming photographers. Jack Black’s first Oscar night was “surreal.” So was Marcia Gay Harden’s.
Jake Gyllenhaal was star-struck. Sofia Coppola was a little kid. Josh Brolin first went to the Oscars as the guest of his nominated wife. And once again this year, first-timers such as 14-year-old supporting actress nominee Hailee Steinfeld are likely to log their own unforgettable memories.
Here, some actors and directors reflect on their first trip to the big show.
— Before she was nominated for “Moulin Rouge” and won for “The Hours,” Nicole Kidman attended the Oscars with then-husband Tom Cruise: “He was nominated. And I remember I got to wear this really short little Valentino velvet dress and I just was like absolutely stunned. It was like the biggest thing I had ever seen. I couldn’t believe how loud the photographers were.”
— Ryan Gosling went to the show as a nominee in 2007, but his night was overshadowed by his date’s ’do: “I went there with ’Half Nelson’ and I went with my mother. And the whole night was dominated by the fact that she got this hairstyle that she was regretting. So that was all we talked about the whole night. This lady convinced her that everyone was going to be wearing beehives, and that was the new thing that year. Of course we got there, nobody. Everybody had their hair down.”
— Virginia Madsen also brought her mom — and she seared the night into her mind: “Oh, I remember every detail. I mean, I was Cinderella and I didn’t have to go home at midnight. I brought my mom with me and I, it was just, everything about that night was perfect. Everything was a dream come true — as I imagined it when I was five years old. I mean, I wouldn’t change a thing. It was really beautiful.”
— Marcia Gay Harden, who won for her role in “Pollack,” also remembers every detail: “It strikes me still with the clarity of a lightning bolt, that the first time I went there, I was graced to win … given the opportunity by Ed Harris to be in a great movie to play a real transformational character that caught the votes from some voters. And the glory of the night was that my dad was alive, my mom was alive. Ed was thrilled. My husband was there. It was surreal.”
— Director Sofia Coppola was just a kid when she attended her first Oscar ceremony with her father, Francis Ford Coppola: “I must have been 7 or 8. I had a tuxedo dress. But I have vague memories. It was a lot of glamorous grown-ups.”
— Jake Gyllenhaal was totally overwhelmed: “It’s like this mind-blowingly intense situation. And, yet, at the same time, oddly normal, which makes it even more strange. I remember George Clooney shaking my hand at one point as I was walking to my seat, and not believing it. And I remember so many — a sea of famous people’s faces, I remember that.”
— Marisa Tomei had a guardian looking over her shoulder when she was nominated, and won, best supporting actress for “My Cousin Vinny”: “I remember (actress) Mary McDonnell was sitting behind me, and she was so sweet and she just kept tapping my shoulder and being like, ’How are you doing, honey?’ … I was scared and she was very motherly towards me and it was a nice little crowd that I was sitting with.”
— Josh Brolin, who was nominated in 2008 for his supporting role in “Milk,” first came to the Oscars with wife Diane Lane when she was nominated for her lead performance in “Unfaithful”: “There was a massive possibility that she was going to be up there soon accepting an award. But then you learn after a while that it is more about the get-together and the appreciation of your peers nominating you and saying, ’We really liked your performance.”’
— Jack Black recalls his first Oscar visit: “I was at the Oscars to present, I think it was best sound design or something, or best armpit hair? I don’t know what I was presenting. But, I had a really great surreal, weird time. It was always with Will Ferrell. Done it a couple of times. Do little comedic bits, songs. It was cool to be a part of the Oscar history, the pageantry of Hollywood.”
— Songwriter Carole Bayer Sager, who has been nominated six times, remembers her first with mixed feelings: “I was at the Oscars with Marvin Hamlisch. We had both written a song called ’Nobody Does it Better,’ recorded by Carly Simon, and it was for the movie ’The Spy Who Loved Me.’ And I remember trying to put that title in the lyric, and I found the line: ’Like heaven above me, the spy who loved me, is keeping all my secrets safe tonight. Nobody does it better…’ And we lost. I don’t remember to what song. And I knew, at that moment, that the best part is being nominated, because losing didn’t feel so good.”
— Jeff Bridges, nominated for his sixth Oscar for “True Grit,” says his most memorable trip to the show was last year: “It’s so exciting, you know, being recognized by your guys, saying ’Atta boy, Jeff. Good job.’ Everybody standing up and all that. Oh, God, it is so thrilling. Then, to share it with my wife, who was there through the whole thing. It was a magical, magical evening for me.”
AP Entertainment Writers Bruce Barton, Sandy Cohen and Ryan Pearson contributed to this report.