Felicity Huffman

Actress Felicity Huffman is most well known as Lynette, the reluctant stay-at-home mom in crisis on the runaway hit TV series Desperate Housewives.

One of her wildest dreams—singing with legend Tina Turner—came true last year. What could be next? How about earning an Oscar® nomination for her very first starring role in a feature-length movie!

In Transamerica, Felicity plays Bree, a man desperate to become a woman. One week before her sex change operation, Bree discovers that years earlier she fathered a son. Her son is a troubled teen who has been arrested in New York. Bree bails him out and they take a cross-country road trip to Los Angeles. Their wild ride turns into a journey of self-discovery revealing dark secrets and hidden pain.
Felicity and Oprah

Felicity's work in Transamerica is particularly fascinating and complicated because she is a woman playing a man—who is trying to act like a woman.

"Bree was a transgendered woman," Felicity says. "And the thing about being transgendered is you don't feel like a male. You feel like a woman trapped in a man's body. So I didn't feel like a man. I actually felt as if I was learning feminity as a foreign language."

One of the most striking elements of the character was the voice Felicity developed for Bree. Hormones do not change a person's voice, Felicity says. "You can look like Kate Moss and sound like James Earl Jones."

Finding the correct balance for the voice took a lot of effort. "I went through three voice teachers," Felicity says. "It took me about an hour of exercises in the morning to lower it. Once I lowered it, I couldn't get out. ... I had to find a male voice and make it sound like it was reaching for something artificial."

As an actress who at one point believed her career was kaput, Felicity says that old cliché is actually true. "I know when people say it's just great to be nominated, you want to go, 'Oh, please.' The truth is I really am! The fact that I am going—me!—to the Academy Awards®...and I'm not a seat-filler and I'm not doing catering. It's phenomenal."

Felicity says she and her husband, actor William H. Macy—himself a former Oscar-nominee and producer of Transamerica—have enjoyed a bit of post-nomination bliss.

"Several times a day I turn to my husband and say, 'Oh, listen, I forgot to tell you something.'" Felicity says, "'I'm nominated for an Academy Award!' I think it's getting a little old, but I think I'm going to keep doing it for another two weeks.'"

Though he has had smaller roles in more than 30 films and acted in multiple movies released in 2005, two critically acclaimed performances could make 2005 remembered as "the year of Terrence Howard."

In the racially charged Best Picture-nominated film Crash, Terrence plays Cameron, a black television director struggling with his identity and racism. His role in Hustle & Flow has been called "career defining" with the Academy® honoring Terrence with a Best Actor nomination. In this independent film, Terrence plays DJay, a small-time pimp who dreams of becoming a rap star.
Terrance and Oprah

Terrence certainly has come a long way from when Oprah first saw him—eating a fish sandwich on the set of Their Eyes Were Watching God, in which he played Amos Hicks. "I don't know what to say," he says. "I feel like a passenger on one of the best potential rides that somebody could hope to be on."

One of the prime reasons for Terrence's success is his utter believability in every role—as everything from an accomplished TV director to a small-time pimp. "I think as an actor your job is to surrender 100 percent to what your director needs from you and 100 percent to the character," Terrence says.

When Terrence turned on the nomination announcement show at 5 a.m. in California, he was just in time to see that he was not nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Crash. Terrence was disappointed at this because that category, he says, was "supposed to be my best chance" for a nomination.

That disappointment quickly disappeared moments later when he was nominated for Best Actor for his role in Hustle & Flow. "I turned into a schoolgirl," he says. "I started crying. I didn't expect to be that happy. I thought if it happened I would be cool, but you just don't think that everything will amount to something."

Terrence says he doesn't plan to write a speech in advance in case he wins. "You've got a minute and a half up there at the most," he says. "If God has led me to that moment, I would like for the God in me to speak. And whatever happens, happens."
Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central's Daily Show, is a specialist in fake news. Now he has some very real news to share. He's a new second-time daddy! His daughter Maggie is less than a month old.

Jon's latest newsworthy assignment? He'll be hosting the 78th installment of Hollywood's biggest night—the Oscars®!

"There isn't enough money in the world you could pay me to do what you're getting ready to do," Oprah says.

"That's how I ended up hosting," Jon says. "Because no one else would do it!"
Jon Stewart and Oprah

Is Jon feeling the pressure of hosting a broadcast that is reportedly seen by a billion people worldwide?

"It's amazed me how much pressure is put upon it," he says. "I sort of just think of it as it's a monologue at an awards show. But the pressure that others have begun to put on me makes me realize if this goes badly, people may die," Jon jokes.

Jon does admit that he feels some pressure to do a good job. "When you see people like Felicity [Huffman] and Terrence [Howard], how extraordinarily grateful and pleased they are, that's really the only pressure that I feel," Jon says. "I don't want to ruin their wedding. I've bombed before, but these people have worked their entire careers to get this kind of opportunity and I just feel like I owe it to them."

As a comedian following in the tradition of legendary hosts like Billy Crystal, you might think hosting the Oscars® was one of Jon's dreams. "No, I wanted to play for the Knicks," he jokes. "But I can't dunk."

The Kodak Theatre will be full of legends and the movers and shakers of Hollywood. Is Jon worried about upsetting any of them?
Jon Stewart and Oprah

Past hosts Billy Crystal, Steve Martin and Chris Rock have all generously offered Jon advice on hosting the Oscars®. "All three said, 'Don't do it,'" Jon says. "'Just get out of town now. No one will know.'"

With a theater full of the most famous and powerful people in the entertainment industry, is Jon worried about ruffling feathers? "If I had a movie career I might worry about that," he says. "But what can they do to a guy who's on basic cable? Can they bump me down to public access? What can they really do?"
George Clooney

It's been a mighty good year for George Clooney! George received three Oscar® nominations—two for directing and writing his film, Good Night, and Good Luck, and another for Best Supporting Actor in the film Syriana.

When George dropped by The Oprah Show in October, 2005, Oprah asked the handsome bachelor why he thinks the public seems obsessed with his marital status. "I don't know...I was married once. ... I blew it once," joked George. "What's the rush?"

If you think dating George would be dreamy—think again! "You know, I'm 44 and single," said the wisecracking star. "So my suggestion is somewhere in there, that dreamy part slip[ped] through the cracks."

Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix

Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix delivered critically acclaimed portrayals of the late June Carter and Johnny Cash in Walk the Line. Just about everybody—including Oprah—was talking Oscar® at the time they appeared on the show.

Sure enough, Reese and Joaquin earned Best Actress and Best Actor nominations for their performances in the film. Garnering those nominations was no small feat. In fact, Reese said that transforming herself into June Carter was the most challenging role of her career.

"It was awful," Reese said. "We had to learn how to sing."

Joaquin said he never even sang in the shower before taking the role. "Singing was completely foreign to me, as well as playing the guitar," he said. "It was terrifying."

Luckily for viewers, both Reese and Joaquin decided to stick it out and turn in two of the most compelling performances of the year. What did they have to say about the early Oscar® buzz?

"It's obviously a great honor," Joaquin told Oprah. "It's strange. Before we even started making the movie I was talking to [Director James] Mangold and I said, 'This movie has already repaid me. This process, the preparation has been so fulfilling to me as an actor that no matter what happens—whether it's considered successful or critically acclaimed—I feel rewarded."

Reese agreed. "When you make movies," she said, "You just want people to see them. I'm always shocked when more than my mother shows up! ... When people love them and take them to heart, that's the biggest reward. And everything else is icing."
The stars of 'Brokeback Mountain'

With an impressive eight Oscar® nominations, the groundbreaking film Brokeback Mountain had everybody buzzing this year. Best Actor nominee Heath Ledger and Best Supporting Actor nominee Jake Gyllenhaal play two cowboys secretly in love for years.

The movie has stirred some controversy for its same-sex kissing and love scenes. When Jake and Heath appeared on the show, Oprah asked them if they found the kissing scene difficult.

"We can't say that we weren't nervous about it," Heath said. "But once the first take was over, it's like, 'Okay. So what? It's kissing another human being. How are we going to finish this scene? Let's get on with it and let's get out of here.'"

Brokeback stars Anne Hathaway and Michelle Williams also joined the discussion. With all of the acclaim surrounding the film, the actors said they looked forward to potential nominations, but told Oprah they had already received an even greater reward.

"I think it's sort of beyond our wildest expectations," said Jake. "I really do think that we're really all genuinely so proud of it and love it so much that we'll do anything for it. We'll go anywhere for it and we'll support it in any way we can."
Charlize Theron


Though Charlize Theron is strikingly beautiful, she has chosen roles that move away from Hollywood glamour...and toward Hollywood hardware. She won an Oscar® for Best Actress in 2004 for her portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster, and was nominated again for Best Actress this year for her portrayal of Josey Aimes, a trailblazing victim of sexual harassment in North Country.

"I don't look at the physical," Charlize says about how she chooses roles. "The physical a lot of times comes just very organically from looking at the emotional. I really believe that we look physically the way we do because of our emotional impact that we've made on our bodies during our life. I think somebody like Josey [her character in North Country] looks the way she does because of where she is, her culture, her world, and her experiences."