With four Oscar nominations, Sunday could be a big night for Best Picture nominee Little Miss Sunshine. Greg Kinnear, who stars in the film, says it has exceeded expectations "way beyond anybody's imagination."
In the movie, Greg plays a failed motivational speaker who joins his family on a disaster-ridden trip in a Volkswagen van to get his daughter to a beauty pageant.
One of the biggest challenges of filming the movie—which took a mere 30 days—was spending so much time in the 1969 Volkswagen van, says Greg. During his scenes, Greg had to perform while driving on the freeway in real traffic! "It's the most dangerous movie ever made," he jokes.
With such limited space in the van, Greg says the directors had to curl up in the back—occasionally poking their heads up to give direction. "It was a strange environment to shoot a movie, but we all had a good time," he says.
And while he might not encourage anyone to enter their child into a beauty pageant, the film's focus on success seems universal. "It kind of speaks to this kind of crazy obsession with winning that's so rampant in our culture," Greg says.
Greg says his children make him realize the importance of the choices he makes every day. "The sense of confidence that you have about anything in your life is completely shot," he says. "There's a real sense of vulnerability that sets in about just all of the things you can do wrong or do right, and there's no great blueprint on any of this." At the same time, he says, children are so loving and giving that "you can't lose."
For years, Sally says she's had to answer questions from people who seem to be offended by her speech. "Of course it wasn't planned. It wasn't terribly articulate, but it certainly was the truth, and I kind of like that," she says.
Sally says the speech was "terribly misinterpreted." "People who don't perform don't understand what that feeling is like to have your work work," she says. "They attribute it to low self-esteem or all sorts of things that it really isn't about."
One stress Sally didn't have to worry about was facing the question, "Who are you wearing?" Nowadays, it seems that is all people care about! Sally says she bought her 1985 Oscar gown off the rack. And the jewelry? "The little heart necklace I wore cost $35."
"Now that I've been doing this long enough in my life, and I've won a number of awards … it really honestly is [about] the work," she says. "It's great to be accepted and appreciated and respected by your peers. But when you look back on it now, it is the memories of having the opportunity to do that kind of work. … That's what you remember."
When Sally looks at the Oscar she won for Norma Rae, she says she remembers shooting the movie and working with the director, Martin Ritt. "That's what changed me and moved me forward," she says.
Although Sally has acted in many memorable films—like Steel Magnolias and Forrest Gump—she can't name one that she's most proud of. "I always like to say, 'I hope I haven't done it yet,'" she says. "I don't allow myself to look back and cherish any particular character or film. I want to do that later when I'm on the porch drooling in a cup. Then I'll go, 'Oh, God, remember that one?'"
"I'm loving it," Sally says. "It's a phenomenal group of actors. I am grateful for every day because they are just extraordinary."
Sally says she can relate to her character, Norma Walker, because she has grown children of her own. "[The show is] really about things that are in my life," she says. "These are the things that I worry about and deal with, and obviously people throughout the country feel that way."
Due to the show's grueling schedule, Sally says she'll be watching this year's Academy Awards® from her bed. "I do think it's fun to watch," she says. "But I hate the fact that sometimes you're watching it now hoping that someone will do something stupid. … Rather than it being about what it's about—applauding really good work."
Although it's been more than a decade since they first met, Geena says she remembers the day well. "I had been cast in Thelma & Louise, and I didn't know who was going to be the other person," she tells Susan. "Then it was you, [and] it was, like, so amazing."
Geena reveals that up until the moment she met Susan, she thought she could play the role of Thelma or Louise. "You walked in the room and immediately I was like, 'I could never play Louise!'" she says.
Neither actress won an Oscar® for her contribution to that classic road-trip flick, but both have received Hollywood's top honor for other roles.
Since this was Geena's first nomination, she says she had no idea how to gauge her chances of winning. The afternoon of the 1988 Academy Awards, Geena says she was sitting in front of her television eating spaghetti and saw Oprah on the screen with a panel of movie critics. "They were right in the middle of [discussing] the supporting actress category," she remembers. "They'd gone [through] everybody, and then they got to me. Each one of the five said, 'Oh, hopeless case. The least likely [to win].'"
Geena says she shrugged it off and went to the ceremony. A few hours later, she took the stage to accept the award!
Susan received her first nomination in 1981 for the movie Atlantic City, which she starred in alongside Richard Gere. That year, Katharine Hepburn took home the best actress award.
Over the next 13 years, Susan was nominated for her roles in Thelma & Louise, Lorenzo's Oil and The Client. Then in 1995, Susan received a nod for playing a nun in Dead Man Walking.
"Right before they announced the winner, Laurence Fishburne leaned over and said, 'If you don't win this, we're burning the place down,'" she says. "So that kind of relieved the tension a little bit."
Moments later, Susan finally received the statuette!
Recently, Geena married a man 15 years younger than her. Susan's longtime partner, Tim Robbins, is 12 years her junior. Both women have two sons and a daughter and successful film careers. They've also managed to balance their personal and professional lives.
"It used to be, in the old days, you had to choose between a career and a family," Susan tells Geena. "It's been really great to see you … not be in a relationship where you had to minimize who you are. I could see that's what you were struggling with when we first met. … [Guys] would choose you for your strength, and then they would not be able to deal with it ultimately."
Geena says that's a common problem for all women, not just Hollywood actresses. "It took a lot of practice to figure it out," she says. "[I realized], 'Oh, I see, I'm supposed to change. I'm not just supposed to change the guy.'"
"How did you finally do it?" Susan asks.
"Practice," Geena says.