Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Lupita Nyong’o and More Share Post-Oscar Win Thoughts

McConaughey wins Best ActorBrad Pitt waxed poetic about his love for “12 Years a Slave” — but admitted he’d started his stellar day by having to “pick up dog poop…in my bedroom.” Cate Blanchett swore her Aussie pride, Lupita Nyong’o spoke of honoring the spirits of slaves, and Jared Leto offered opportunities to fondle his Oscar in a night that ping-ponged between euphoria and thoughtfulness backstage at the 86th Academy Awards.

It was a historic night for Oscar, with “12 Years a Slave” filmmaker Steve McQueen becoming the first black man to win Best Picture honors, “Gravity’s” Alfonso Cuaron becoming the first Mexican to win Best Director, and Best Actress winner Cate Blanchett becoming Australia’s first double Oscar winner in the acting categories.

McQueen, who literally jumped up and down on the Oscar stage when his film took the top prize, claimed to be “cool as a cucumber” by the time he made it to the press room, but was clearly still on the verge of another happy dance, explaining that sometimes physicality just takes control. Some 75 years after “Gone With the Wind” gave moviegoers a romanticized view of antebellum slavery, McQueen noted that his film’s success shows “a progression. The background characters are now in the foreground. It’s indicative of what is going on right now; people now want to look at that history and embrace it.”

His fellow producer, Pitt, told us, “I love this movie. I love our film…This man in this inhumane situation trying to get back to his family…It’s important to understand our history — not for any kind of guilt, but to know who we were so we can better understand who we are…and who we’re going to be. It’s a gentle reminder that we’re all equal, that we all want the same dignity and humanity for our family, and that another’s freedom is as important as our own.”

The film team is particularly pleased that their movie has brought Solomon Northup’s memoir back into the spotlight. The long out-of-print book is a best seller now, and destined to be in high schools across the country. It’s noteworthy that the Academy was looking to update and diversify itself and Cheryl Boone Isaacs, its first black president, opened up the membership in hope of bringing in more diverse and younger members — which certainly did not hurt “12 Years a Slave’s” chances this year.

“12 Years a Slave” also won Best Supporting Actress honors for Lupita Nyong’o. Backstage, the It Girl of this Awards Season, admitted she was “a little dazed. I can’t believe this is in my hand. I can’t believe this is real life. I’m really overwhelmed.” Yet the stunning fashion world favorite was poised enough to talk about how moved she was by support in her native Kenya and around the world — including coming across an Instagram of hundreds of people holding a good luck sign. She had the presence of mind to touch again upon the fact that “12 Years a Slave” filmmaker Steve McQueen “honored people who really have been unsung for a really long time, doing this film. Their spirits have been honored.”

And, asked by a Chinese reporter what had been the most encouraging thing that had been said to her along the way, Nyong’o was thoughtful enough to respond that those words were from people who had said “from their hearts, that the outcome doesn’t matter. You’ve already won because the work has been done. Remembering that has kept me hopeful and positive and relaxed.”

As for celebrating, she was going to head to the Board of Governor’s Ball and “do all the things that are Oscar-related. It’s my first time here. I feel like Willy Wonka in the Chocolate Factory.”

So, apparently, did rock star cum Oscar winner Jared Leto (Best Supporting Actor, “Dallas Buyers Club”), He revved up the press room crowd early on by offering his Oscar to “anyone who wants to try it out for size…hold it…If you have swine flu, please — don’t touch,” he joked. “I bet this is a first — the first person to give their Oscar away for an orgy in the press room…Anyone else wanna fondle?”

He also offered the chance to take a selfie with his statuette, but was told the Academy doesn’t allow unauthorized pictures in the press room. He tweaked the Academy reps there, saying, “You guys want to get media — let the media do what they do!” Not surprisingly, he was answered with a huge round of cheers from the media. A few seconds later, sounding every bit the rock star, he rallied the crowd, “Who’s your favorite Oscar winner tonight?!”

Leto certainly made clear, on this “Hero”-themed night, that his personal hero is is mother, who was a single teen when she gave birth to him and his brother, but managed to raise them and give them wings of imagination as well. Backstage, he reiterated that the best thing about winning was having his mother and brother there with him — “the two most important people in my life…I’m really fortunate to be able to thank them in such a unique and grand way.”

Leto was asked about the comments he made to encourage dreamers out there, especially in Ukraine and Venezuela. He pointed out that, “You have an opportunity, when you stand on stage — you can make it about yourself, or you can take the opporunity to shine a light…For me, these global issues impact us in a real way. We have a show in Ukraine in a couple of weeks,” he said, referring to his 30 Seconds to Mars band’s touring schedule. Leto says he and his band “feel at home all over the world. Social unrest affects us in a real way.”

He was quick to acknowledge the work of fellow winners Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews, who did hair and makeup on “Dallas Buyers Club.” Their win was seen over the monitor while Leto was in the room. Pointing out that they’d had an unbelievable budget of $250.00, he said, “They work harder than anyone else; they’re there at the crack-ass of dawn and stay ’til the crack-ass of dawn.”

When Lee and Mathews came backstage, they said that they’d never met Jared until the Oscar Nominees’ Luncheon a couple of weeks ago — they knew him as Rayon. He was in character as the AIDS-stricken transvestite when he came to them and remained in character.

Leto was asked whether it’s better to be cheered onstage as a rock star, or to win an Oscar. His answer: “The good news is, I don’t have to choose.”

He left saying, “and thanks for getting my Oscar dirty with your fingerprints.”

Leto’s fellow “Dallas Buyers Club” winner, Best Actor Matthew McConaughey, said that despite being considered a lock by most Oscar prognoticators, “I did not expect it.”

The actor who decided to put his all into promoting the small-budget feature when it was made — and has reaped amazing results — noted, “It’s a bit of the end of a journey with this film, this script that came across my desk four years ago…Nobody wanted to make it for 20 years. It was turned down 137 times.” Getting the movie mad was “a miracle in itself,” he went on. Then it was received well at the Toronto Film Festival and “started to gain momentum. This is the gold standard of the light of excellence.”

He again expressed his gratitude for his wife’s support, and the fact that she’s taken their children to all his film locations — “It’s been harder for her than for me.” Asked what he hoped his children would take from this Oscar experience, he recounted telling them, “‘Remember when we were in New Orleans, the work that Dad did? People are shining a light on it today.’ I want them to see, if you do your best right now, it can come back and have reciprocity.”

Regal-looking Cate Blanchett, Best Actress winner for “Blue Jasmine,” said she “got to be a princess today.” She got a massage — “pummelled like Kobi beef” — and had the privelege of choosing between three dresses prepared for her by “Mr. Armani, with whom I have a long and great relationship.”

However, when a reporter began a question by stating that she’s the first Australian actress to win two Oscdars, she dropped the decorum to interrupt, “and don’t you f#@!ing forget it!”

Blanchett had phoned home and found her youngest child had “stopped vomiting, so that’s good.”

Next, she anticipated going out dancing.

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Face to Face with Face Off’s McKenzie Westmore

Face Off - Season 6McKenzie Westmore has loved acting since she played Robert De Niro’s daugther in “Raging Bull” at age three. That was when she got her Screen Actors Guild card. She came to love singing as well, and was studying opera and performing in musical theater by age seven.

But the blue-eyed, blond host of SyFy’s fiendishly popular “Face Off” reality competition show does say that for awhile, she considered going into the family business. That family business, in case you’re not aware, is movie makeup. The Westmores, going back to patriarch George (who made up Mary Pickford and the Talmadge sisters, among dozens of others), have been responsible for many of the unforgettable faces, hideous and beauteous, that you have seen on the big screen small. From “Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” to all the makeup for “Gone With the Wind” to “Blade Runner” and beyond, four generations of Westmores have plied their special creative trade in Hollywood.

“The bug did actually bite me at one point, really going way back,” she says. “When I got into my teens, I thought, ‘Oh, gosh. I don’t want to see the family business die.’ I had actually read an interview, the Los Angeles Times had done an interview with my dad, and they called him The Last of the Living Dinosaurs,” she says, speaking of Michael Westmore, who won an Oscar for his work on “Mask,” was a vital part of the “Star Trek” series’ teams, and even created spy makeup kits for CIA operatives overseas. Fans of “Face Off” have seen Michael as a mentor on the show.

Continues McKenzie, “He was one of the last to do everything — conceptualize an idea, run the molds, run the lab, then bring it to life and actually do the application on the actors. You don’t really see that a lot now. When I read that article I thought, ‘Oh, I don’t want to see the family legacy go.’ So I started to study. I started to take classes and work alongside my dad. I helped him out in the lab. And after awhile, I said, ‘Dad, I love you. I love what our family is known for in the industry. There’s magic there. But it’s not the thing that’s stolen my heart. I love acting, and I want to continue down that path,'” she recalls. “And he said, ‘You know I support you whatever you want to do. Go after your dreams like I did mine.’ And so, I went back to acting and got ‘Passions.'”

She was on that soap for 11 years, and also accumulated credits on other shows including “Dexter,” “All My Children” and “Friends.”

With her knowledge of makeup arts, “I feel very confident to walk into the lab on ‘Face Off,’ because I do know what I’m talking about. But at the same time, I did not want to go that route in life. ‘Face Off’ is the best of all worlds for me. I couldn’t have scripted this better.”

The show boasts the crème de la crème of Hollywood makeup artists, including judges Ve Neill (“Beetlejuice,” Mrs. Doubtfire”), Glenn Hetrick (“The Hunger Games,” “Heroes”) and Neville Page (“Avatar,” “Star Trek”) — plus such guest judges as filmmakers Paul W.S. Anderson, Gale Anne Hurd, Brian Grazer and Kevin Smith.

This season, “We get to travel — a big travel. We get to go to Japan. One of the challenges I’ve always wanted to see on our show is anime, and that’s what we bring back with us from Japan,” notes Westmore, speaking of the March 4 installment of the show. “I can’t wait for the fans, even new fans who jump into the show, to experience that because we really get to show them these amazing stunning visuals of Japan, from the middle of the countryside to the urban scene. It’s really going to be fun for the viewers.”

The Japan shoot took place over one week. “We got off the plane guns blazing — the contestants had to do a challenge immediately,” she says.

With “Face Off” in its sixth season, Westmore hopes the show will go on and on. She points out, “‘Face Off’ really is a go-go-go-go-go production, but it doesn’t take the whole year. So I can go out and do other things. I’ve also fallen in love with hosting since doing this. ‘Face Off’ is my baby, it will always be number one,” she says, “but I’m looking forward to seeing what else is out there.”

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Titus Welliver’s Year of Life Overflowing

WelliverTitus Welliver has come to feel a certain amount of personal ownership of the character Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch, mystery writer Michael Connelly’s popular L.A. homicide detective, who is now the centerpiece of a much-discussed Amazon pilot.

What makes the steely gray-haired actor of “Lost,” “The Good Wife” and “Sons of Anarchy” fame feel such a profound connection? In a morning’s talk about the new venture, the erudite Welliver answers candidly. “I suppose I have my own haunted qualities to a certain degree. I’ve had a bit more than I would care for of personal tragedies in my life. Three of my siblings passed away and my wife died a little over a year ago from cancer, and that effects you, to say the least. It alters the state of your internal being. There’s a lot of that in Bosch.”

It has been a stunning year, a year overflowing in many ways for Welliver. He’s been exceptionally busy, with not only “Bosch” but Gus Van Sant’s recently-released “Promised Land,” starring Matt Damon as a drilling-rights salesman — as well as upcoming roles in “Transformers 4” and a role in Michael Bay’s forthcoming TNT series, “The Last Ship.” With him have been his three children.

“I’m quite proud of my kids. It’s by no means easy to navigate such a devastating loss as they’ve had to navigate — and yet they have. That which fulfills me as a human being is the love of my children and my love of them.”

Taking them with him to assignments “is tricky, but we are, as I say to my kids, we’re cinema gypsies.”

He’s grateful, he says, “they’ve been so malleable, because, you know, it was very disruptive to their summer vactions to go on several different locations. Although because it was ‘Transformers’ there was not a lot of kicking and screaming, I have to say,” he adds, smiling. In fact, the June 27 release “Transformers: Age of Extinction” Welliver says, has given him the kind of cool movie actor cred he’s never had with the three of them before.

“They were very delighted to be sitting on the set of the film. And Michael and Ian Bryce, our producer, were extremely generous in having my kids be there and giving them a wonderful thrill and a ride, just to observe that. It’s not easy for kids eight, 12 and 14 to understand non-disclosure agreements and things, but I was very proud of the fact that although they’re bursting at the buttons to be able to talk about it, none of them have folded under the interrogation of their peers.”

On the front burner for Welliver is Bosch. The immensely popular books have had a long journey to the cameras — some 20 years and different production entities and stars who were interested in making movies of him. The Amazon project is a result of Connelly himself regaining control of rights to his character.

“It’s a new world. It’s a very diffent way of doing things,” Welliver says. “Because of this new business model Amazon has where they’re streaming it for free, the audience watches it and then they grade it — Watch, Grade and Share.

The audience will be the deciding factor in whether it goes to series. The material is there, because Michael has written so many of the books, but it’s definitely a wait-and-see. My understanding is that thus far the response has been very positive. It’s tricky because when you take an iconic character, you’re not going to please everybody no matter what you do. I’m really hoping that it proves out and is given the opportunity to go to series because it’s a project I’m really, really passionate about and I want to breathe more life into it.”

Welliver likes the fact Connelly was on set and guiding the proceedings. “So many times, films and TV move so far from beloved source material that they lose what was magnetic about it for the audience,” he finds.

Is he tracking responses in real time? “I’m a little bit in the camp of ignorance is bliss. for me, it’s like reading reviews,” Welliver says. “You get a swelled head or a broken heart and neither state is desirable.”

The pilot is a combination of the books “Concrete Blond” and “City of Bones.”

“Michael gave me all the books which was a tremendous gift,” says Welliver, who had only read one of the series before the job came his way. “I’m now a fan that goes beyond my homework. I love the books, and I get why the audience likes this character so much. He’s not a guy with a white hat. There are very many different shades to this character. He’s very, very complex. He’s kind of thequintessential anti-hero, a broken guy to a certain extent. He has this incredible moral compass, that makes him very interesting to play.

“I allowed my eight-year-old daughter — she’s no stranger to bad language, I’m slightly ashamed to admit — I let her watch some of the pilot and she said a really interesting thing to me. She said, ‘Well, it’s a little bit scary,’ and then she said, ‘He’s a sad man.’ And I thought, yeah. There’s a sadness and brokenness to Bosh, which I think informs his drive to right these wrongs. He’s really the ultimate advocate for the victims of these crimes. And there’s a kind of poetic beauty to the character. He’s not just that kind of brutish cop who likes to smoke and drink too much and self medicate. There’s a beautiful drive to him.”


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