When she became the African-American woman to win an Oscar for Best Actress, for her performance in Monster's Ball, Halle brought the house to its feet with these words: "This moment is so much bigger than me. It's for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened." Penelope took Best Supporting Actress honors for Vicky Cristina Barcelona and warned the audience that she might be the first winner to faint onstage. This year, she's up for a second statue for her performance as Guido's mistress Carla in Nine.
Halle and Penelope sat down in New York City to talk about winning, the true joy of acting and their favorite places on earth.
Penelope: My main fear was to not have a panic attack and not faint because I thought I was this close to stepping into the other side.
Halle: I stepped into the other side. I don't even remember getting up. I don't even remember really standing there. I remember Russell Crowe saying: "Breathe, mate. You've got to breathe, mate." I didn't write anything; it sort of was just pouring out of me.
Penelope: You didn't write anything?
Halle: I didn't write a speech—I really didn't think I was going to go up there. I thought, "This has been a nice ride and lots of good recognition," but the Oscar just seemed unobtainable for me. So no, I didn't write anything, to my regret.
Penelope: No, but it was amazing. It was so from your heart, it was beautiful. … When I saw you in that movie I was screaming. I was happy that such an amazing actress like you had found that role to express yourself that way, because it is mind-blowing what do in that movie. … When I saw that scene [on the sofa], I was so blown away by how great you were. And I don't mean about showing your body; I could see that woman's soul.
Halle: People often say that must have been hard, but it wasn't me up there. I totally had surrendered to that character. I knew one boob was going this way, one was going that way and I just totally didn't connect to that part of my physical self at all. Me as a person got to evaporate and just emerge through someone else that's the best feeling and the most joy I ever have on a movie set. So thank you.
Penelope: That's a great way to explain it. And when that happens for me, that's true happiness. I look for that connection. I look for that experience that is a high. You fly. It's so hard to find.
Halle: Did you fly in Nine? Because I thought you flew, I thought you were sexy from the inside out.
Penelope: Thank you, Halle.