Golden Globes: 'The Help's' director and star on film's wild ride
Writer-director Tate Taylor, producer Brunson Green and actress Octavia Spencer came together as friends more than 15 years ago, never imagining that they would be honored all these years later after working to turn another longtime friend's novel, "The Help," into a box-office hit.
But over the last two days, the film has landed nine nominations from the Screen Actors Guild and the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. Actresses Viola Davis, Spencer and Jessica Chastain received nominations, as has the film as a whole. It's been a bit surreal.
"As I watched the nominations this morning, I kept thinking this should not be happening to this group of people," said Taylor. "A book nobody wanted to publish, a movie nobody wanted to make until [DreamWorks Co-Chairman and Chief Executive] Stacey Snider came along. It worked. This is rare, and it feels great."
Spencer purposely didn't watch the nominations live this morning for fear that she wouldn't be selected and that it would dampen her extremely positive attitude toward the film. When she didn't get the word till 5:45 a.m. -- after being told that the announcement would be at 5 a.m. -- she engaged in some serious retail therapy as a way to offset the perceived disappointment.
"Let me just buy my boots because I wasn't going to get the nomination. I only wanted one pair, but why not buy two. I deserve two. I'm so glad the phone rang before I hit spend," said the 39-year-old actress.
Spencer is elated with the nomination, even screaming out, "Oh, I'm thrilled," in the middle of the morning chat. But it's the inspiration she hopes she can provide other working actors that gives her the biggest lift.
Having toiled in the business for 17 years, Spencer said "The Help" has brought her opportunities to read for more substantive roles and meet with bigger talent in the industry. She just signed on to costar in Diablo Cody's directorial debut and she's hoping to sign on to two other films, depending on her schedule.
"More than anything what I'm thrilled about is my story. I feel like I can be a beacon of hope for the other rank-and-file actors who have trained hard and are looking for their big break," she said. "That's what I'm excited about, that I can keep them motivated to stay in the game emotionally, because it is tough."
For Taylor, who is currently holed up in a cabin in Martha's Vineyard writing an adaptation of Leif Enger's book "Peace Like a River" for DreamWorks, the recognition for both Spencer and Chastain is very gratifying. Their characters' story line of maid and employer becoming friends mimics Taylor's own mother's relationship with his childhood maid.
"That's why it's in there -- it would seemingly be a storyline that would be whittled down. But I wanted to portray a part of the South that does exist, that's not black versus white, good versus evil. To have that relationship be such an important part of my film and to have them both be recognized is so great."
-- Nicole Sperling
Photo: Tate Taylor and Octavia Spencer at the Hollywood Reporter's annual "Power 100: Women in Entertainment Breakfast." Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images