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Category: Screen Actors Guild Awards

SAG Awards: Jonah Hill is 'doing well as dramatic actor'

December 14, 2011 | 12:05 pm

Jonah Hill was nominated for a SAG Award on Wednesday

It was his serious turn in “Moneyball” that earned Jonah Hill his first-ever SAG Award nod Wednesday, but hours after receiving the news, the actor couldn’t stop laughing in astonishment over the nomination.

“This has been the most overwhelming day of my life,” the 27-year-old gushed. “To be nominated for this award is so mind-blowingly pleasing on so many levels. I can’t believe I’m actually nominated. I can’t believe I’m having this conversation right now. I’m so honored that they recognized me. It doesn’t seem real.”

Hill, best known for his roles in raunchy comedies such as “Superbad” and “Get Him to the Greek,” showed he had serious acting chops opposite Brad Pitt in the fall baseball drama “Moneyball.” The actor said his phone had been ringing off the hook as he exchanged calls and e-mails with Pitt, director Bennett Miller, producer Scott Rudin and actress Catherine Keener, who suggested him for the “Moneyball” role. His relatives had also reached out, hoping to score a date invite to the telecast.

And the congratulations didn’t stop there. The actor is currently on set filming “Neighborhood Watch” in New Orleans, where his costar Ben Stiller made sure everyone knew about Hill’s nomination. “He made an announcement saying ‘Everyone say congrats to Jonah on his SAG award nomination,' and I was embarrassed,” he said.

The actor seemed genuinely floored over scoring a nod and said he felt it served as proof that he has what it takes to be more than just a funny guy on the big screen.

"It’s totally validating, because in comedy, the money is usually the validation,” he said, referring to box-office ticket sales. "Generally comedies aren’t recognized with awards. That being said, I feel so prideful in ‘Moneyball.’ I’m getting to make a shift to an actor who does both comedies and dramas. And this is definitely a sign that I’m doing well as a dramatic actor.”


SAG Awards: Oscars' best-picture race now in focus — or is it?

SAG Awards: 'Artist' star Bérénice Bejo on hectic awards season

SAG Awards: Does 'Bridesmaids' love up comedy's Oscar chances?

-- Amy Kaufman


Photo: Jonah Hill in "Moneyball." Credit: Sony

SAG Awards: Double nominee Glenn Close is having a 'wonderful' day

December 14, 2011 | 11:45 am

Glenn Close talks about her SAG Award nominations, one for her starring turn in the upcoming movie “Albert Nobbs” and the other for her lead role TV's "Damages"
Glenn Close is having a hectic but "wonderful" day. It's a particularly busy shooting schedule for her on the New York set of her television series “Damages,” but this morning, Close also scored two SAG Award nominations, one for her starring turn in the upcoming movie "Albert Nobbs" and the other for her lead role on the FX TV drama.

"It's wonderful, wonderful. I don't take anything for granted," she said on a break from shooting and still dressed in what she calls her "Patty suit," referring to her character, Patty Hewes "The Patty nomination was a bit surprising because we'd been away for a while, but it's a show with a very strong, engaged following, which is lovely."

Close said she is especially pleased about the two nominations for "Albert Nobbs," which opens Dec. 23 and is a passion project for the actress. She's lived with the character of Albert -– a poor Irish woman who dresses as a male waiter to find employment -- for almost three decades, having played the character onstage in a 1982 theatrical adaptation. She's also a producer on the movie and co-wrote the script with author John Banville.

"I'm really thrilled Albert was nominated. It's phenomenal. To be nominated by my peers, because of all that went into being able to finally make this movie, it's incredibly gratifying to me," she said. "To think [the film] was made for just under $8 million and took 34 days. When you see the incredible work done in that time, it represents some of the best there is across all areas, from the makeup and hair to our production designer, the DP, the actors -– everyone."

But the nomination Close was perhaps most jazzed about was Janet McTeer's, her costar in "Albert Nobbs" and her new BFF. McTeer, who was nominated for her supporting role, is in Europe today, but the friends shared a text exchange that showed their mutual affection and admiration:

McTeer: "Hurray. Well done darling girl."

Close: "Bravo to you. I’m so happy we'll be there together."


SAG Awards: The complete list of nominees

SAG Awards: Who should win the ensemble honor? [Poll]

SAG Awards: "The Help," "Bridesmaids" among cast nominees

-- Deborah Vankin

Photo: Glenn Close and Janet McTeer in "Albert Nobbs." Credit: Patrick Redmond / Roadside Attractions

SAG Awards: Christopher Plummer on 'wonderful' honor for 'Beginners'

December 14, 2011 | 10:58 am

Christopher Plummer talks about his SAG Award nomination for "Beginners"
For Christopher Plummer, news of his SAG Award nomination for "Beginners" comes at a "frantic" time. The veteran actor just celebrated his 82nd birthday Tuesday, he's preparing a one-man theater show, "A Word or Two" and tonight he heads into New York for the U.S. premiere of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."

Amid the frenzy, Plummer's not even sure how he learned of the nomination for his supporting role in Mike Mills' film. "I think somebody called me. I can't remember who," he said, speaking by phone from his Connecticut home.

Even as Plummer is busy with current and future projects, he's appreciative that his fellow actors recognized his work in “Beginners,” which opened in theaters the first weekend of June.

"What was extraordinary and wonderful at the same time is that it has been out for a long time. And suddenly people are remembering it as being charming. They're getting together and showing their respect for it," he said.

In "Beginners," the Canadian actor plays a father and widower who comes out about his homosexuality near the end of his life as he rekindles his relationship with his son, played by Ewan McGregor. The story is a semi-autobiographical one for director Mills.

The nod marks Plummer's fourth SAG Award nomination -- his previous nomination was for his performance in 2009’s “The Last Station” -- but he said the recognition for "Beginners" is still special to him because the character was a unique role for him.

"I'm sort of unexpected in it. It's totally different for me, which I welcome. I thought the film was absolutely charming, charmingly written by Michael Mills. And he really did my character proud," the actor said. “I had a marvelous time filming it, and it was just a gift."


SAG Awards: The full nominations list

SAG Awards: TV nominations are announced

SAG Awards: "The Help," "Bridesmaids" among outstanding cast nominees

–- Emily Rome

Photo: Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor in "Beginners." Credit: Focus Features

SAG Awards: Demian Bichir on his surprise nomination

December 14, 2011 | 10:55 am


In the film “A Better Life,” Mexican actor Demián Bichir stars as an East L.A. gardener, an undocumented immigrant who’s doggedly pursuing the American dream. On Wednesday, Bichir, who immigrated to the United States some 20 years ago to pursue English-language roles, earned a piece of his own personal American dream when he was named one of five best actor nominees for a SAG Award.

He and Jean Dujardin (“The Artist”) are the least familiar names in a group that also consists of George Clooney, Leonard DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. 

After years spent washing dishes in New York restaurants and doing other menial jobs while studying English and trying to land minor film roles to break into Hollywood, Bichir said that receiving SAG’s recognition was “amazing, incredible and fantastic.”

“This is my fellow peers voting, and that makes me immensely proud,” said Bichir, who hails from a prominent Mexican theater family and began performing on stage as a child before graduating to lead roles in translations of Shakespeare and Chekhov.

Bichir, 48, already was a Mexican film and television star when he moved across the border. Relocating meant leaving behind not only his family but a comfortable career. His breakthrough Spanish-language film role came in “Sexo, pudor y lagrimas” (Sex, Shame and Tears), a 1999 war-of-the-sexes ensemble comedy that’s one of Mexico's highest-grossing films. “When I decided to leave Mexico, pretty much everyone thought I was crazy,” he said.

He’s best known to stateside viewers as the ethically challenged Tijuana mayor Esteban Reyes opposite Mary-Louise Parker on Showtime’s “Weeds”; and for tackling the part of Fidel Castro in “Che” (2008), Steven Soderbergh’s two-part bio-pic about Cuban-Argentine revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

He also starred at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood in a 2008 production of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan’s drama “By the Waters of Babylon,” about a Cuban novelist obliged to become a manual laborer after migrating to Texas.

Although “A Better Life” touches on the red-hot political topic of illegal immigration, the film is essentially a domestic drama about gardener Carlos Galindo’s efforts to raise his teenage son and keep him out of gangs while earning a living landscaping lawns and hoisting himself up palm trees with an electric trimmer. Bichir, who’s bilingual, communicates in the film in Spanish and halting English.

Director Chris Weitz said he wanted to cast Bichir after seeing his “Che” performance. Although the filmmakers were under pressure to recruit a more prominent Spanish-speaking star, such as Javier Bardem or Benicio del Toro, Weitz and his producers were intent on casting a Mexican actor as the lead.

To connect with Bichir, Weitz – who was then preparing to direct the “New Moon” film of the Twilight Saga -- invited him to read for the part of a vampire lord in that film. 

“He did a great reading,” Weitz said, but “I think there was some confusion in his mind about whether he was playing a vampire or a vampire who likes to climb trees.”

Christian McLaughlin, a producer of “A Better Life,” said that Bichir’s achievement was to convey Carlos’ inner thoughts and struggles with minimal dialogue. Because he’s illegal, Carlos “has to keep his head down” and be as anonymous as possible, McLaughlin said. Bichir “has to communicate a lot with his face and eyes without being passive.”

“It’s so powerful because it’s so understated,” agreed Stacey Lubliner, another of the movie’s producers.

Bichir remains relatively unknown to mainstream U.S. movie-goers. “A Better Life,” although well-reviewed by critics, earned a modest $1.8 million at the box office when it was released in June. Next up for Bichir: an appearance in Oliver Stone’s upcoming crime thriller “Savages,” and a Mexico City stage adaptation of “Swimming With Sharks.” (He plays the role pioneered by Kevin Spacey; the play is directed by Bichir’s brother.)

When he eats breakfast at his favorite West Hollywood diner, Bichir seldom draws stares from other customers. But waiters and busboys always chat with him in Spanish, and the actor always treats them like old friends. This year, some of them have shared their impressions of his character in “A Better Life.”

“They say, ‘That’s my dad’s story, that’s my uncle’s story, that’s my family’s story,’ " Bichir said. “And it touches everyone’s hearts.”


Movie Review: 'A Better Life'

'A Better Life's' Demian Bichir: Time for his moment in Oscar spotlight 

SAG Awards: Demián Bichir, Armie Hammer among surprise nominees

-- Reed Johnson

Photo: Demian Bichir in "A Better Life." Credit: Merrick Morton/Summit Entertainment

SAG Awards: A wake-up call for 'J. Edgar' actor Armie Hammer

December 14, 2011 | 10:28 am

Armie Hammer J Edgar

Armie Hammer is the first to admit he didn't spend a lot of time tossing and turning over the possibility of receiving a SAG Award nomination Wednesday morning. The 25-year-old actor, who was recognized for his supporting role opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Clint Eastwood's "J. Edgar," was fast asleep when the nominees were announced.

"My wife woke me up and said, 'Baby, baby! … You got nominated for a SAG Award!' And I went, 'Oh, that's so great!' And then I just rolled over and went back to sleep."

Hammer, who plays J. Edgar Hoover's close confidante Clyde Tolson, eventually came to again and gathered his thoughts. "I'm definitely more and more excited as I'm waking up and as the day is getting going," he said. "It's a huge honor."

He added, "We worked really hard on this, we all did: Leo, Clint. I'm so excited that Leo got nominated as well [for best actor]. He could not deserve it more. So to see it appreciated by our peers is very nice."

This is Hammer's second SAG nomination; he appeared in "The Social Network" last year, which was up for the ensemble award that eventually went to "The King's Speech."

Hammer will turn up next on the big screen as Prince Alcott in the Snow White film "Mirror Mirror," opening March 16. He will begin filming "The Lone Ranger," a film based on the Old West hero, in a few weeks.


SAG Awards: The complete list of nominees

SAG Awards: 'Artist' star Bérénice Bejo on hectic awards season

SAG Awards: Demián Bichir, Armie Hammer among surprise nominees

— Oliver Gettell

Photo: Armie Hammer and Leo DiCaprio in "J. Edgar." Credit: Keith Bernstein/Warner Bros.

SAG Awards: Melissa McCarthy, Judd Apatow talk 'Bridesmaids' noms

December 14, 2011 | 10:17 am


The breakout hit "Bridesmaids" might have been one of the biggest surprise inclusions in the SAG Awards roster of ensemble nominees, but the film's producer Judd Apatow said the recognition was richly deserved for the group of actresses that anchored the Kristen Wiig-Annie Mumolo scripted comedy.

"I was hopeful they would be acknowledged," said Apatow, who was waiting until after he dropped his kids off at school to call the leading ladies to congratulate them. "They are so deserving it’s ridiculous. I’m excited for them because many of them worked together at [comedy troupe] the Groundlings. They have developed as comediennes for a really long time."

Melissa McCarthy, who was nominated separately in the supporting actress category, was elated that it was her fellow actors who bestowed the ensemble cast with a nomination.

"It felt like there were 1,500 Groundlings in this movie," said McCarthy, who was awake Wednesday morning trying to potty-train her young daughter. "It's pretty amazing. We all scrounged for our own costumes and did all this stuff at the Groundlings. To be doing the same kind of work, but on that level and then to have it recognized, it is a little surreal."

It's been a good year for McCarthy, who in September nabbed an Emmy Award for her role in CBS' "Mike and Molly" in one of the most memorable moments of the ceremony.

Apatow, who marks his first SAG nomination with "Bridesmaids," attributes the film's success to its themes and its female-dominated cast.

"It's a comedy about friendship, about people growing up and worrying about growing apart. It also just happens to star these brilliantly funny actresses," he said. "Plus, people are supportive of the idea that it's ridiculous that there aren't a ton of movies about women intended for not just a female audience but to be something that isn't just for men, that women are drawn to.

"I've been told that women are actually 51% of the population," he joked.


Photos: SAG Awards top nominees

SAG Awards: 'The Help,' 'Bridesmaids' among cast nominees

SAG Awards: Does 'Bridesmaids' love up comedy's Oscar chances?

-- Nicole Sperling

Photo: From left, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Rose Byrne, Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph and Ellie Kemper in "Bridesmaids." Credit: Suzanne Hanover / Universal

SAG Awards: Meet 'Albert Nobbs,' 'Kevin' and 'The Iron Lady'

December 14, 2011 |  9:49 am

Albert Nobbs
This year's SAG Awards nominees, announced Wednesday morning, include a number of performances in films that haven't opened yet, have only had brief one-week runs to qualify for Academy Awards consideration, or simply flew under the radar. Here's a quick overview if you were stumped by titles including "Albert Nobbs," "We Need to Talk About Kevin" and "The Iron Lady."

"Albert Nobbs," about a woman living a double life as a man to work and survive in 19th century Ireland, received nominations for lead actress Glenn Close and supporting actress Janet McTeer. If you haven't seen the film, it's because it doesn't open until next week. The film did play at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals, where its awards campaign began in earnest. 

Tilda Swinton received a lead actress nomination for her role in "We Need to Talk About Kevin," in which she plays a mother struggling to come to terms with her son's involvement in a school shooting. The film began a one-week qualifying run in L.A. and New York on Dec. 9 and will open commercially in the same cities Jan. 27. It played at the Cannes Film Festival in May, and you can watch our video report below or read Kenneth Turan's review of the film here.

"The Iron Lady," a biopic about Margaret Thatcher, garnered a lead actress nomination for Meryl Streep. The film opens Dec. 30 in L.A. and New York and will go nationwide Jan. 13. British critics have lauded her performance.

Some low-profile performances from earlier in the year that earned SAG nominations include Demian Bichir's turn in "A Better Life," in which he plays an illegal-immigrant gardener trying to provide for his son; Nick Nolte in "Warrior," in which he plays the estranged father of dueling brothers; and  Christopher Plummer in "Beginners," in a supporting role as a recently out-of-the-closet widower who embraces his new lifestyle with gusto. 

The SAG Awards winners will be named Jan. 29 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.



SAG Awards: The complete list of nominees

'Warrior': Nick Nolte on whether a felon could win an Oscar

SAG Awards: Demián Bichir, Armie Hammer among surprise nominees

— Oliver Gettell

Photo: Glenn Close in "Albert Nobbs." Credit: Patrick Redmond / Roadside Attractions

SAG Awards: No love for Andy Serkis' digital acting in 'Apes'

December 14, 2011 |  9:49 am

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

If Wednesday's SAG Award nominations are any indication, Hollywood's acting community isn't yet ready to honor work in the performance capture format. Despite a heavy awards push for his role as a hyper-intelligent chimp named Caesar in Fox's "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," Andy Serkis was omitted from SAG's supporting actor category.

Serkis has been an ad hoc spokesman for the format of performance capture, or motion capture, a technique in which the actions of human actors are recorded and used to animate digital character models. He appears in performance capture roles in two films this year -- as Caesar and as Captain Haddock in Steven Spielberg's "The Adventures of Tintin," which will be released in the U.S. Dec. 21. In a sign of how performance capture poses some existential questions for Hollywood come awards season, "Tintin" is being campaigned as an animated film.

Fox, which also released the performance capture blockbuster "Avatar" in 2009, has been running "for your consideration" trade ads in which an image of Serkis in his motion capture suit is juxtaposed with the finished shot in the film, in which he has been rendered an ape by artists at Weta Digital. "The Time is Now," the ad says in bold type, with a quote from Time magazine film critic Richard Corliss that reads, "Serkis gives a performance so nuanced and powerful it may challenge the Academy to give an Oscar to an actor who is never seen in the film."

Serkis was part of the cast that won a SAG award in 2004 for "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," for his work as another digital character, Gollum.

In an interview in late October from set of his next film, Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit," Serkis seemed optimistic that performance capture work would get more acknowledgement in time.

"For many years talking about Gollum, it was about the technology, the how of it all," Serkis said. "Performance capture was an exotic, strange activity, separated from the craft of acting. People thought when I was doing Gollum, 'What is he? Is he a contortionist or a dancer or a circus performer? How does he fit into the process?' Ten years down the line it's become an industry standard and it's more about talking about character."


SAG Awards: The complete list of nominees

SAG Awards: Who should win the ensemble honor? [Poll]

SAG Awards: "The Help," "Bridesmaids" among cast nominees

---Rebecca Keegan


Photo: Andy Serkis played super-smart ape Caesar in 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' Credit: WETA/20th Century Fox

SAG Awards: How have the nominees fared at the box office?

December 14, 2011 |  9:43 am

The Help is the top grossing film nominated for a SAG Awards
"The Help," the civil rights drama that earned the most SAG Award nominations Wednesday morning, is also the nominated film that has been most widely seen by moviegoers in theaters.

The movie -- which scored a best ensemble nomination as well as individual acting nods for Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain -- has sold about $170 million worth of tickets so far in the U.S. "Bridesmaids," which has grossed about as much as "The Help," earned two nominations. The other populist films in the race include "Moneyball," which has raked in around $75 million, and "Midnight in Paris," which has collected around $56 million.

But beyond those four films, the majority of the SAG nominees have only played to niche audiences at the box office. "The Artist," the silent black-and-white film that scored three nods -- the second-most of the day behind "The Help" -- has grossed just short of $1 million. The Weinstein Co. film, which opened in limited release on Thanksgiving, is currently playing in 16 theaters and will expand to 175 locations on Dec. 23. The movie will not reach a broader audience until late January, after the Academy Award nominations are announced.

"The Artist" is a front-runner for best picture at the Academy Awards, meaning it has the potential to become more than just an art-house hit. The only other independent film currently in release that seems to be crossing over into commercial territory is "The Descendants," the George Clooney drama that has already racked up over $24 million. The movie, for which Clooney and the ensemble cast were honored on Wednesday, is now in about 900 theaters and will expand nationwide in late January.

Nominated films little-seen by audiences that have already reached the end of their theatrical runs include "Warrior," ($13.7 million) "Beginners" ($5.8 million) and "A Better Life" ($1.8 million).

Meanwhile, some films that earned SAG nods have yet to hit theaters. Those include "Albert Nobbs," starring lead actress nominee Glenn Close and supporting actress nominee Janet McTeer, which will play in only a few locations next week. "We Need to Talk About Kevin" was released in one theater last weekend for a weeklong run to qualify it for Academy Awards consideration, but the film starring Tilda Swinton will not open wide until Jan. 27. Finally, the Margaret Thatcher biopic "The Iron Lady" will reach moviegoers nationwide on Jan 13.


SAG Awards: The complete list of nominees

SAG Awards: Who should win the ensemble honor? [Poll]

SAG Awards: 'The Help,' 'Bridesmaids' among cast nominees

--Amy Kaufman


Photo: Jessica Chastain, left, and Octavia Spencer star in "The Help." Credit: DreamWorks.

SAG Awards: The Weinstein Co. leads the studio race

December 14, 2011 |  9:40 am

The Artist
With "The Artist," "My Week With Marilyn" and "The Iron Lady," the Weinstein Co. collected a leading six nominations for SAG Awards on Wednesday morning -- more than any other studio -- ensuring that boss Harvey Weinstein will again be a large presence this award season.

The silent film "The Artist" was nominated for three SAG honors: best ensemble, male actor in a leading role for Jean Dujardin and supporting actress for Bérénice Bejo. "My Week With Marilyn" was selected for best actress for Michelle Williams and supporting actor for Kenneth Branagh. The other Weinstein Co. nomination was for "The Iron Lady," whose star Meryl Streep was nominated for lead actress.

Counting stunt performer nominations, Universal Studios tied for the second-most nominations among the studios, collecting a total of four, including best ensemble for "Bridesmaids." DreamWorks and Touchstone joined forces for four studio nominations, thanks to "The Help," which had the most nominations of any film with four.

The SAG Awards will be presented Jan. 29.


SAG Awards: The full nominations list

SAG Awards: TV nominations are announced

SAG Awards: 'The Help,' 'Bridesmaids' among outstanding cast nominees

-- John Horn

Photo: Jean Dujardin and Missi Pyle in "The Artist." Credit: The Weinstein Co.




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