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OSCARS 2000 | Backstage

Straight From the Winners' Circle

They keep giving thanks, expressing shock and wondering what comes next.

March 27, 2000|ERIC HARRISON and LORENZA MUNOZ | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Cut Hilary Swank some slack. The young, first-time Oscar winner seemed poised onstage, but she forgot to thank one key person--a slight she addressed backstage Sunday at the Shrine.

"I have got to thank my husband, Chad Lowe. Because without him I could never have made it through this experience. Thank you, honey, you are everything."

Asked what he said to her when her name was called for her role in "Boys Don't Cry," she replied, "He said, 'Breathe and be free. Congratulations.' "

As for all the attention she's received for her work in the unusual role of a girl pretending to be a boy, she said, "Obviously I would be lying if I didn't say you think about an Oscar in your lifetime if what you want to be in life is an actor. . . . I was just involved in the movie for the importance of it. And to see this movie get this recognition is quite spectacular."

Furthermore, "I think this recognition makes me realize that people respond to the story, and because of that it's very rewarding, because that's all I cared about when I agreed to do this movie--the importance of the story."

She had to admit the attention she's been getting is more than a little flattering, especially with designers offering her dresses to wear for the awards show.

"Ultimately--and I don't mean to suggest that I don't care about the dresses and all that because I do--but through it all I try to remember why I was going to these events and try not to get too caught up in what I'm going to be wearing and what my hair looks like . . . although I do feel like a princess."

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"I was actually experiencing an aneurysm," best actor winner Kevin Spacey told reporters after winning for "American Beauty." "This film means an enormous amount to me. It's the highest honor you can receive in this industry. I was stunned. Really stunned."

When he thanked friends for not letting him get away with his "worst qualities" he said, "What I meant by that was that real friends are not just the ones that congratulate you and tell you did great work. They keep you on your toes and keep you focused on the real things in the world and your life. It's important that you try to keep your feet on the ground. I was thanking those friends of mine and they know who [they] are who smacked my head when I got a little ahead of myself."

Sam Mendes, beaming with his Oscar for directing the film said, "I would've done this movie for free, and I practically did so. [Steven Spielberg] owes me a couple of quid."

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"I've never really held an Oscar before," said supporting actress winner Angelina Jolie. "My dad's mother had his in a goldfish bowl or something, high up on the mantle. I don't remember much about it." She does remember coming to the ceremony with her father, Jon Voight, when she was young but mostly she remembers that it was long and the empty seats that had cartoon characters painted on them. "My dad said he was proud of me and that I was a good actress. For him to think I'm a good actress is kind of a big deal for me."

When she heard her name read as the winner, "I really didn't expect it," Jolie said. "I just hid in my brother's arms. All of our lives we grew up in this business. Dad has an Oscar and it's a big thing for us. You try as an actor to give a performance that is acknowledged. It's been a big thing for us. We always watched it."

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"The standing ovation threw me because it's not something you expect," said supporting actor winner Michael Caine. "I went up with my back to them up the steps. Then I turned and that's when I sort of went" into shock. "To be held in such a regard in a town so full of talent is such an incredible compliment."

Caine, who previously won a supporting actor Oscar for "Hannah and Her Sisters," said, "I wasn't here the last time. It's very different when you're here. And being told over the phone. That's very, very nerve-racking out there."

Finally, he said backstage of his win Sunday night, "I'm a survivor. That's what it is. That's what they gave it to me for. I'm still here after all these years."

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"I feel very emotional," original song winner Phil Collins said backstage. "I'm a drummer really. To get something like this is something I'd hoped for and I didn't expect it.

"This is outside my field," he continued. "I was writing music, of course. But this is a big deal for me. I'd wanted to write music for films for a long time and Disney gave me a chance. . . . I hope this is going to give me an opportunity to do some score writing. That's what I really want to do.

"My wife and kids are here and they believed all along that I'd win it. I was the only one who doubted it."

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Pedro Almodovar, after his "All About My Mother" was named best foreign language film, likened winning to "a multiple orgasm." He had said getting a Golden Globe was like an orgasm.

Almodovar, who had dedicated the movie to his mother, who died soon after filming was completed, expressed criticism of Oscar rules that might raise some eyebrows.

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