The Santa Barbara International Film Festival hosted their annual Virtuosos Event Friday, awarding several supporting actors for outstanding performances.
This year the recipients and attendees were Jacki Weaver (“Animal Kingdom”), Hailee Steinfeld (“True Grit”), Lesley Manville (“Another Year”) and John Hawkes (“Winter’s Bone”).
Fellow award recipient Andrew Garfield (“The Social Network”) was absent due to a shooting conflict — he’s hard at work shooting the new “Spider-Man” — much to the disappointment of his legion of female fans on-site.
The first attendee down the red carpet, Hailee Steinfeld — who at just 14 has received an Oscar nomination for her role in “True Grit” — admits that she was asleep when the nomination announcements were first made.
“Crossing the river,” she said, when asked to name her most difficult scene. “That was pretty difficult to film.”
Amazed that it wasn’t the scene where her character Mattie faces off against rattlesnakes, I asked her about filming that sequence.
“It’s not the first thing that sticks out [among the more challenging scenes] because it actually wasn’t that bad. I did kind of freak myself out with the whole thing,” Steinfeld said. “The snake wrangler said the snakes had been in movies before. They were on ‘Snakes on a Plane.’ I think that was supposed to calm me down, but it didn’t.”
Inside the theatre, Steinfeld talked about what initially drew her to the role of Mattie Ross.
“She’s very independent and she has a drive. I think that was the first thing that caught my eye.”
Interestingly, one of the things Steinfeld was most unsure of, reading from the script of what was required of her, was how to roll a cigarette.
“When I got on set, Jeff [Bridges] taught me how,” Steinfeld said in response Entertainment Weekly senior writer Dave Karger’s question about her solution to that problem, much to the delight of the audience.
Honored for her work in Mike Leigh’s “Another Year,” British actress Lesley Manville talked in detail about Leigh’s unorthodox approach to filmmaking.
“Well, there isn’t a role in the beginning because he works without a script, so he literally does call you up and asks, ‘Do you want to be in the film?’” Manville said. “There’s no scenario, there’s no characters. [Instead] you have a very extensive period of rehearsals to create the characters. I love working with him because he always gets me to play something different and play somebody that’s not like me, and that’s the buzz I get from it.”
Manville also provided insight into her character.
“The thing about Mary is that she’s an open wound. Everything she does — talk too much, drink too much, wear inappropriate clothes — it’s all part of this armor plating,” Manville explained. “She wants to present something to the world that she isn’t.”
The sole male recipient present for the night, John Hawkes revealed it was the idea of a challenge that initially attracted him to the role of Teardrop in “Winter’s Bone.”
“It was a role I wasn’t sure how to do. It’s hard to put into words, but I just got a really good feeling [about the project],” Hawkes said.
Walking down the red carpet, the first thing that stood out about Australian actress Jacki Weaver was her surprisingly sweet demeanor, a sharp contrast to the vicious character she’s famous for playing in the crime drama “Animal Kingdom.”
“[David Michôd] sent me the script and said ‘I’ve written a part just for you,’” Weaver said. “I don’t get a lot of those, but I get a few young writers [like Michôd] sending me scripts,” Weaver said. “Some are good, but a lot of the time you have to let them down lightly. I read this script and thought it was fantastic from the beginning.”
Weaver had no idea “Animal Kingdom” would result in her Golden Globe, S.A.G. and Oscar nominations.
“It’s been such an amazing journey,” Weaver said. “We thought we had a good film, but we didn’t know that all the Americans would love it. As far as getting this kind of acclaim, nobody expected it. It came right out of left field.”