In 2008, Charlize Theron, 32 years old and an Oscar-winner as Best Actress in the movie Monster, and AnnaSophia Robb, 14 years old and the lead actress in the kids’ movie Because of Winn-Dixie, starred together in the movie Sleepwalking. Normally, actors will study each other’s work before acting together; however, Ms. Robb had seen very few movies starring Ms. Theron. Why? She explains, “My parents won’t let me see them, especially Monster.” Of course, winning an Oscar for Monster was very satisfying for Ms. Theron, especially because it was so hard to get the movie made and to find distribution for it. Ms. Theron says, “There wasn’t one person in this industry who wanted that film made. We had our financiers calling us at 3 a.m. and asking us what the hell we were doing. They didn’t like the way I looked [the beautiful Ms. Theron put on weight for the movie and looked ugly], and they wondered who would want to see this movie. When we finished, we couldn’t pay a distributor to take it. We were hours away from signing a straight-to-video deal with Blockbuster when we found a distributor. For that reason alone, the Oscar was especially sweet.”
At one time, film producer Harvey Weinstein tried to convince Barbra Streisand to star in the movie version of Chicago, which was to be directed by Anthony Minghella, who had just directed The English Patient. Always a straight talker, Ms. Streisand told Mr. Weinstein and Mr. Minghella over dinner that The English Patient was “overlong and overpraised.” Later, of course, The English Patient was nominated for 12 Academy Awards and won nine, including Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director. At the Academy Awards, Ms. Streisand was seated directly behind Mr. Weinstein and Mr. Minghella. As The English Patient won Oscar after Oscar, Ms. Streisand was a good sport, patting Mr. Weinstein and Mr. Minghella on the back and laughing at her critical appraisal of The English Patient. Mr. Minghella even told Mr. Weinstein about Ms. Streisand, “She ended up being our good luck charm.”
A couple of mishaps occurred when Betsy Byars accepted the Newbery Medal for her book The Summer of the Swans. Her favorite dessert, blueberry cheesecake, was served at the ceremony, but before she gave her speech she was so nervous that she couldn’t eat any of it. Near the end of her speech, she started to think about the cheesecake and she started to read her speech more quickly. Unfortunately, when she was finished with her speech and she went to the dessert table, all of her favorite dessert was gone. In addition, a couple of teenage boys wearing pageboy costumes and carrying banners led the VIPs to their seats of honor at the beginning of the ceremony. Ms. Byars was pleased by this, but she heard one of the teenage boys say to the other teenage boy, “I could just kill my mom for making me do this.”
A famous scene in the movie Jerry Maguire, starring Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding, Jr., occurs when Mr. Gooding’s character, a football player, makes Mr. Cruise’s title character, a sports agent, jump through a few hoops before he allows Jerry Maguire to continue to represent him. One hoop is to shout “Show me the money!” like he meant it. Jerry does that, and he gets to continue to represent Mr. Gooding’s character. Mr. Cruise was nominated for an Oscar as Best Actor, and Mr. Gooding was nominated for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor. After learning about the nominations, they got together on the telephone and shouted. Mr. Gooding says, “We screamed at each other for ten minutes. It was nothing intelligent, just ‘Arrrggghhh! Ahhh! Yeaaahhh!’ I yelled. He yelled. Then he went hoarse.”
Actress Angelina Jolie has the respect of people in the movie industry. In 2000, when she won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in Girl, Interrupted, she was making a movie titled Original Sin in Mexico. After flying back to the movie location following the Academy Awards, she was asleep when suddenly a mariachi band started playing outside her trailer. She went outside, where the cast and crew of Original Sin greeted her. Each member of the cast and crew gave her a rose—she ended up with almost 200 roses! Many of the crewmembers, including director Michael Cristofer, had worked with her before in the television movie Gia, and they were ecstatic that she had won an Oscar.
Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, gave Gregory Peck, who played Atticus Finch in the movie, a pocket watch that had belonged to A.C. Lee, her father, the model of Atticus. (After the book was published, friends asked A.C. to sign their copies as “Atticus,” which he gladly did.) Mr. Peck was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar, and at the Academy Awards, he held that watch. He was still holding it when he won the Oscar, and he made sure to thank Ms. Lee in his acceptance speech.
Shirley Temple became a child star in movies before she learned how to read. So how did she learn her lines? Her mother read her the scripts of her movies at bedtime. In 1934, little Shirley won a miniature Oscar to recognize a major accomplishment: According to Hollywood, she had brought “more happiness to millions of children and millions of grownups than any child of her years in the history of the world.”
The high-quality TV sitcom Taxi won awards even when it had low ratings. After it was canceled, it still won Emmys. When Judd Hirsch, who played Alex Rieger, picked up an Emmy for Best Award in a Comedy Series, he asked, “Don’t they know we’ve been cancelled?”
Tim Conway’s speeches after winning an Emmy are great because he never talks about the Emmy Awards. Once, he thanked all the Tarzana Pitch ’n’ Putt employees and recommended that everyone in the audience play golf there for an evening of relaxation.
When magicians Penn and Teller won an Obie, their theatrical show was so unusual that the presenters of the award didn’t know what to call it. Therefore, they officially gave the award to Penn and Teller for “whatever it is they do.”