Tag Archives: Octavia Spencer

Octavia Spencer Says Stigma of TV ‘Quite Gone’/’Hit The Floor’s’ Don Stark Talks Segment Secrecy

octavia spencerOctavia Spencer has an Academy Award and a steady influx of film offers — but she scoffs at the very notion of shying away from television. “That’s not a reality in today’s world. You see Julia Roberts doing television,” notes the “The Help” Oscar winner — who will join the small screen action Sept. 17 with the premiere of Fox’s “Red Band Society.”

She adds, “Some of the most interesting characters out there for character actresses like myself are in television, so I would be shooting my big toe off, and not being able to walk very well, had I done that…I don’t see that there’s a difference, really. I think that stigma is quite gone.

“I’m not a snob, I’m an actor. And I’m a character actor, so I have to be realistic about the parts that are available to me,” she goes on. “So it’s about really and truly being a part of a show with a character I can grow with.”

Spencer plays a nurse with a sarcastic edge in the hospital dramedy centered on teens that forge social bonds while dealing with long-term illness.

Writer/exec producer Margaret Nagle (“Boardwalk Empire”) brings a wealth of personal experience, as she “grew up in a hospital,” as she put it, while her brother was in a coma following an accident. Still physically challenged, he is now an outsider artist, she told press at the recent Television Critics Association conclave. Stories are based on real-life situations, and Spencer and other cast members and writers visited pediatric hospitals around the country to absorb the atmosphere and get to know patients. Steven Spielberg is also an exec producer on the show.

Spencer says her character is “a lot of fun because you do assume she’s That Way — all business — but the children pull on her heartstrings…You see it played out differently. She only shows her true colors to a few people, and usually it’s kids.”

She does make it clear she “absolutely” will continue to make movies — having launched “Get On Up” earlier this summer, and having “Insurgent,” the second installment of “Divergent,” ahead. The studio and network, she says, “have been wonderful” about working with her film calendar. Spencer and the series’ “hot doc” Dave Annable are “interwoven throughout the episodes,” according to her.

As far as her life changing because of her taking home the Best Supporting Actress statuette in 2012, she says, “My life is still very much the same. I like a small manageable life. But my career, obviously, exploded. I have access to a lot of great material. I got offered a lot.”  A series, she believes, is “a marriage, so you want to be married to a project that’s brilliant and you want to be married to people that you respect and whose work you’ve been a fan of, and who’ve influenced you. That’s what i have with Margaret and Steven Spielberg and everybody at Dreamworks and Fox.”

don starkHUSH-HUSH:  The Aug. 11 season ender of VH-1’s “Hit the Floor” is being kept secret — even from the cast. That’s the word from Don Stark, who costars on the steamy VH-1 show about an NBA cheerleader (Taylour Paige) and her world. According to him, show producer James LaRosa “is a master of keeping things close to the vest. The last half page of the script was redacted; none of us knows what’s going on. I don’t even think the NSA could have picked it out.”

Someone on the show will be meeting a bad fate, it seems, and different possibilities were shot. “We have a pool as to who it will be. Every actor thinks, ‘Is it me?  Am I going to be out next year?'” notes Stark with a laugh. He certainly hopes it isn’t him, especially since the one-time “That 70’s Show” actor is having a blast on the show, which was picked up for a third season in May. “It’s a great group of people to work with — amazing dancers, Dean Cain, Kimberly Elise…. The writing is quite good. I hope to be along for the ride next season.”

Either way, Stark certainly has a full plate of activities. He recently joined Sally Field’s big screen comedy, “Hello, My Name is Doris.”  “It’s a coming-of-age story for someone who is already of age,” he says. “She’s a woman in her sixties who lives out on Staten Island and works in the city. She’s a bit of a hoarder. When her mom dies, her life changes.”

And she winds up falling for a younger man — 33-year-old “New Girl” cutie Max Greenfield. Stark plays his uncle, a would-be suitor for Field. He also has the upcoming indie film “Safelight” with Christine Lahti, and returns to his role as Vinny the Scar on the new season of “Castle” this fall.

 

French F-Bombs! Jolie-ing! Whiskey! Star Talk Backstage at the 84th Academy Awards

Jean Dujardin confessed to dropping the French F-word, Meryl Streep divulged her plans for imbibing, Octavia Spencer admitted her fears and Christopher Plummer copped to being a naughty boy — backstage at last night’s 84th Academy Awards.

The Best Actor winner for “The Artist” answered a lot of questions in rapid fire French.  He said, through his translator, that he has a few ideas he wants to develop for movies he would do here in America.  He also let us know that his canine compatriot, Uggie, had already gone to bed.  But the chatter stopped abruptly when reporter Joal Ryan asked him if he had, in fact, let loose with the French equivalent to the F-bomb during that last outburst of his acceptance speech.  He weighed his translator’s explanation a moment, and then said, with the look of a guilty little boy, “Ah.  Yes.  Sorry.”

Will leg flashing become the next hot pose?  Instantly dubbed “Jolie-ing” (in the spirit of Tebowing and Bradying) backstage at the Oscars, it’s the stance taken by Oscar presenter Angelina Jolie to show off her glorious gam through the slit-up-to-there of her black gown.  (Fierce or fatuous?  You decide.)  It was when the three cowriters of George Clooney’s “The Descendants” — Jim Rash and Nat Faxon (alumni of The Groundlings) and director Alexander Payne — lined up on stage imitating Angelina that the pose burst into the pop culture humor space.  Bur writer/actor Rash (a.k.a. the guy from “Community”) insisted backstage that they had no intention of belittling the movie sex goddess.  “It was a loving tribute:  ‘Oh, she’s standing great.  We’ll stand like that, too.'”  The trio agreed:  “She’s supremely hot.”

Rash was asked whether he thought his winning an Oscar would help “Community” survive.  He hopes so.  “I guess I should take this into their offices,” he noted, holding up his statuette as he talked about the brass at NBC.  “It’s good to let people know where they stand with you.  It’s a good accoutrement to any outfit.”

Best Supporting Actress for “The Help,” Octavia Spencer, was asked about what was going through her mind as she was making her way up the stairs to the stage — while receiving a standing ovation from the Hollywood luminaries in the theater.

“Really and truly, I was just trying not to fall down, because I had an incident where I fell at an awards show,” she admitted.

Asked about what she thinks her win will mean to aspiring young actresses of color, Octavia said, “I hope it’s a hallmark of ‘More’ for young aspiring actresses of color — and by color I don’t just mean African American.  I mean Indian, Native American, Latin American, Asian American.   I hope in some way I can be a sort of beacon of hope.  Especially because I’m not a typical Hollywood beauty,” added the amply-upholstered actress.  She paused a moment, then joked, “You guys are supposed to go, ‘Oh, no — you ARE!’  Crickets, guys.  Work with me here.  Work with me!”

But seriously, “I believe you have to believe in yourself and you have to work very hard — and never think you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread, because I promise you, there would be Viola Davises and Jessica Chastains and Emma Stones who ARE the best thing since sliced bread.  So, take it seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously.”

Spencer hopes to expand beyond acting in her career.  “I want to be a producer.  I want to be an activist.  I want to be proactive in bringing about work for men, women, boys and girls — anyone who is good at what they do and deserves a shot at it,” she said.  “I want to have a presence behind the cameras and in front of them, to be a jack of all trades and be decent at them.”
Spencer was asked about the recent L.A. Times article regarding the movie Academy’s membership — as having an average age of 62 with a heavy majority of white men.  What did she think of that?

She hemmed and hawed a little, saying, “I haven’t really thought about it.”

Did she have any thoughts on the Academy being proactive to geta more diverse membership?

Spencer drew a breath, then said, “I can’t tell the Academy what to do, honey.  They just gave me an Oscar.  They continue to do what they do.  I really don’t know.  I have no wisdom there….I’m sorry to cut you off, ma’am, but I saw where you were going and I didn’t want to get on that bus, no pun intended.”

Asked by a military reporter about her advice to new recruits for overcoming their fears, she said, “I haven’t really overcome my fears.  I’m scared to death right now.”  She added, “I don’t take what men and women in the military do lightly.  I’ve not served in that capacity, so I would not offer advice.”  But she did offer advice from Emerson:  “Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

Chrisopher Plummer, who thanked his “long-suffering wife Elaine, who deserves the Nobel Peace Prize for coming to my rescue every day of my life” in his acceptance speech as Best Supporting Actor for “Beginnings,”  was asked to elaborate backstage.   “Of course I’m a naughty boy,” he let us know.  “I’ve been bad all my life.   She puts me in line.  It’s extraordinary.  She rescues me every day of my life — what could be clearer?”

Asked about Hollywood’s propensity for awarding straight actors for playing gay roles, and whether there’s a double standard involved,  Plummer opined that no,  “I think actors are universally the same, gay or straight.  A gay actor can play a straight guy, a straight actor can play a gay guy.  We’re actors.  It cancels out all sexual differences and misunderstandings of sexual differences.”

Meryl Streep, in an expansive mood, let the press know that she doesn’t take her Oscar attention for granted by any means (even after three wins out of 17 nominations).  When a reporter asked her if she was going to give Katharine Hepburn a run for her money, Meryl asked, “Did she have more?”

“Four” said the reporter.

“Oh, well,” she answered with a dismissive flick of the wrist.  (She’s such a good actress, one could almost believe she didn’t know Hepburn’s Oscar total.)

The Best Actress Oscar winner for “The Iron Lady” responded  more seriously when was asked about juggling her career and family life.  She said, “You can ask every working woman that question and get a million different answers, because it’s the juggle and the challenge that we all have.  But honestly, in my life, in the arts, I don’t go to work every day, so my day has been more flexible than other working women.  Even when I was young and broke, I was only working, ever, for four months at a time, and then I was unemployed.  My children never knew when I was going to be home, which was very valuable.”
After the laughter died down, she went on, “It’s an ongoing struggle — women have to do it all.  The more flexible work becomes, the more engaged dads become, the better.”

Meryl was asked whether she’d have a couple whiskeys in the tradition of real-life “Iron Lady” Margaret Thatcher, to celebrate winning her third Oscar.
“I’m going to start with a couple,” she said.