And the Nominees Are…
Daniel earned his second Oscar nomination for In the Name of the Father and his third for his role as the villainous Bill the Butcher in Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York.
His fourth nomination has come for Daniel's deeply unsettling performance as Daniel Plainview—a dishonest oil prospector who will stop at nothing to make his fortune—in There Will Be Blood, the film adaptation of Upton Sinclair's novel Oil!.
Daniel says getting out of the character after shooting finished was not easy. "There's a reluctance to let go of that life, even if the life has sometimes led you into places where you feel strong conflict within yourself. Nonetheless, the work has been fascinating enough and has unleashed a curiosity that then you can't really control just because somebody says it's time to go home now. And so I think it is important to let time pass—I certainly couldn't conceive of going straight back to work immediately after," he says. "It's like the house is haunted for a while. But it's with your invitation, in a way, that the house remains haunted."
Daniel says he finds this response to the role surprising. "I knew it wasn't going to be everyone's cup of tea, this film," he says. "But I'm kind of surprised that it's anyone's cup of tea."
Being recognized with a nomination this year is particularly special, Daniel says, considering who he's up against. "It happens to be that this year I think quite a number of actors have given very, very fine performances," he says. "So I'm extremely proud to be included in a small group."
In his real-life "role," Daniel is the father of three. "I don't think there's anything that can prepare you for that," Daniel says. "You can prepare for probably a hundred years and then just be astonished by the reality when it came. Luckily, it takes care of itself."
What's been the most surprising thing to him about fatherhood? "I suppose the delight in bondage, because I daresay for a good part of my life I'd enjoyed traveling light," he says. "And there's nothing more wonderful to me [than] to realize that I was now shackled for the rest of my life…and what a wonderful shackle to have."
"It seems somehow strange to be talking about anything else, not that there's anything to say, except to express one's regret. And to say from the bottom of one's heart to his family and to his friends that I'm sorry for their trouble," Daniel says. "I didn't know him. I have an impression—a strong impression—I would have liked him very much as a man if I had. I'd already marveled at some of his work and had looked forward so much to seeing the work that he would do in the future."
Her role in The Savages marks Laura's third Oscar nomination. In the film, she plays Wendy Savage, a woman who drifts increasingly far from her family until she and her brother are forced to move home to care for their aging father. "[Wendy is] doing the best she can," Laura says, "But she's a circus, no doubt."
Laura says creating Wendy was made easier because of the terrific script by writer and director Tamara Jenkins. "For an actor, it's heaven. There's a lot to pull from. There are clues throughout. And you just sort of become a detective and try and dig and dig and dig and flesh out what's already there on the page."
Working with this Oscar-winning actor, Laura says, was "absolute heaven."
"He is kind, and warm, and generous and supportive and I felt loved from the minute he was on the set to the minute he left. I missed him terribly when he wasn't around," she says. "He is the best partner an actress could have, without a doubt. I really consider a third of my nomination belonging to Tamara and her script and a third belonging to Phil."
Despite the pressures that could come with the big night, Laura only has one wish for the red carpet. "My goal is to be able to look back on these photos in 20 years and go, 'God, I was young and looked good.'"
"One of my granddaughters called me to say, 'You know, Grandma, you're being nominated.' I said, 'Yes, I've been nominated for a SAG award, an NAACP award, an AARP award.' Which is quite an accomplishment," Ruby says. "'And now Oscar.' I said, 'You mean, like the Oscar?' I was very excited."
Does Ruby think there's some lesson about getting her first nomination at age 83? "If you can just keep on breathing, anything is liable to happen," she jokes.
Ruby says the experience of working on American Gangster was an amazing one. "It came right out of the bowels of where I grew up, and in myself, too. This whole thing, the character Denzel plays, Frank Lucas, and these kinds of men I grew up with and have known in Harlem who didn't have the opportunity, couldn't get the money to go into business—that whole racist ghetto thing. The banks, can't get money. But still, that doesn't mean you've got to go and shoot people's heads off. And that's where I come in, I think, as a relief. Somebody at least spanked the boy."
"He's up there working on it," she says. "Do you realize, Oprah, since he's been gone I have done what I've never done in my whole career. And that is, I've done about seven projects one right after the other—and I've never done that. It's been like a year or two years maybe between things.
"He knows about these things already."
Casey's nomination comes for the Western The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. His turn as Robert Ford, a resentful member of Jesse James's outlaw gang, is being called a breakthrough performance.
The film was also a chance for Casey to reunite with his Ocean's co-star Brad Pitt. "Brad is so fantastic," he says. "I knew him pretty well, and I knew that he's a very charming, easygoing, kind of disarming guy, so I wasn't too intimidated."
Casey and his wife, Summer Phoenix, just had their second child in January 2008, and Casey says his family has always stood behind him. Casey's been quoted as saying his family would be supportive if he said he wanted to be a Martian, wear only banana skins, make love to ashtrays and eat tree bark! "It's certainly true," Casey says. "I think my family, they've always been very supportive and put up with all kinds of things. So if I was eating tree bark and making love to ashtrays, they might be okay with it."
When it comes to the big night, Casey says he's not sure what to expect. "I have to say I'm not so much looking forward to it. It's kind of a weird, daunting…just the idea of going to this thing is a little bit strange," he says. "I've been to some things like that. They're always a little bit overwhelming for me, and I think this is probably going to be the monster of all red carpets."
Although she's acted on stage and on television, Gone Baby Gone is Amy's first major role in a motion picture. "It's insane," she says. "It's a roller coaster ride, but it's the first hill that you're excited. Then it's the dizzying, nauseating turns, and you didn't tell me there's going to be a corkscrew and a loop and a tunnel! But it's fun."
So how did a girl from Queens master Boston's difficult dialect? "Well, I had [co-star Casey Affleck] and Ben on both shoulders, and Ben cast a lot of nonactors and local actors in the films," she says. "Mostly it's by listening. I think that the best lesson as an actress is just to observe as much as you can. So I would just keep an ear out to anything authentic."
Amy said maintaining the accent could be tricky, but she always stayed in it on set. "I didn't want to stick out. I prefer to hide away into roles and let the character play through me rather than move in," she says.
Win or lose, Amy can't wait for her Oscar® night experience. "I'm most looking forward to that moment of stepping out on the carpet. I think that's fun," she says. "Everything else is golden. I got a beautiful e-mail from Ben yesterday that said it doesn't matter. It's over. It's finished. It doesn't matter who wins, it doesn't matter who loses. Because the point is, even not to get it, look at the company I would keep of the ones who also didn't get it. That's not too bad. I'm just over the moon about that."
Marion's transformation into the legendary performer—from her teen years spent begging on the street to her final days as a morphine addict—has earned her critical raves and a Golden Globe® win.
This year, the Golden Globes traditional ceremony was canceled because of the writer's strike, so Marion says her award was delivered in an unconventional way—to her hotel room by room service! Still, she says she wasn't disappointed with the way things turned out. "I have so many things to enjoy that I can't be disappointed," she says. "What is happening to me right now is something unique—it's huge."
From the moment she read the script, Marion says she knew she couldn't pass up this role. "You don't have the opportunity being a 30-year-old to play a whole life," she says. "I saw right away it was something unique that I would have so much fun."
Marion says that, in some ways, she's been preparing for this role her entire life. "When I was young, I loved to play the old lady, the old man. That was back when I was in 9 on stage in vacation camp," she says.
Marion says she spent a lot of time watching and listening to Edith. "I chose a way to work which is not a very classical way. I decided not to experience the voice or the body language until I was on set," she says. "I would say I fed myself with her."
"I'm a French actress with a French movie. I would never have imagined that I would be here with you Oprah, to have a [Golden Globe®]," she says. "It's a whole dream, so I will definitely enjoy every single second of it."