From ‘terrifying’ to ‘the icing on the cake’: What it feels like to be nominated for an Oscar

Entertainment

It’s the biggest night in showbiz, at the heart of which lies the greatest accolade for any actor – an Academy Award.

Their performances have been judged by Hollywood’s great and good, and their teams have been campaigning for months – but who gets the gong on the night is yet to be revealed.

So, with the stakes high, and stars out in force, Sky News caught up with a host of Oscar nominees, and asked them how it feels to be in with the chance of taking home an Oscar on Sunday night.

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Michelle Yeoh says she’s not past her prime yet

Michelle Yeoh: ‘It would be the ultimate’

The multiverse madness that is Everything Everywhere All At Once is not only leading the Oscar race with 11 nods, it’s also given Michelle Yeoh her first Academy nomination.

The Malaysian actress plays Evelyn Wang, an overworked laundrette owner transported into ever more baffling parallel worlds in the touching indie sci-fi directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert – collectively known as the Daniels.

Calling the script “a rare gem,” she told Sky News she was overjoyed “to be given a role that encompasses all the things that you want your audience to see and let them believe that you are capable of”.

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By centring the story around a middle-aged Asian woman, Yeoh says the movie has opened up new conversations: “Hollywood is global. How can it not include a movie like this? I think at the end of the day, kudos to the Daniels who had the courage to write a story like this with hotdog fingers, you know, and rocks and confetti man, and things like that, where normally people would go like, ‘This is too insane’.

“But our world is chaotic and insane and unpredictable, and we have to learn to embrace whatever comes our way.”

And as for her feelings about potentially becoming an Oscar winner, she admits: “I don’t like that pressure, this is my first time so I don’t understand how intense it is, just getting the nominations was terrifying. What if?! Because it felt like a big part of the world was wanting it so badly.”

If she doesn’t win, Yeoh’s philosophical, explaining: “For Jamie [Lee Curtis, her co-star] and myself we love what we do, we are passionate about our work…

“Getting nominated or getting an award would be the ultimate but if you don’t you sort of resign to it and go ‘yeh, it’s alright, we’ll move on, we’ll find something’ as long as we can do what we love it’s ok.”

But if she does bag her first Oscar aged 60, a defiant Yeoh has this to say to anyone who may question the lateness of the recognition: “When someone says, ‘Oh they’re past their prime’, hell no, we’re going to show you what prime is.”

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Colin Farrell says The Banshees of Inisherin’s nods are the ‘icing on the cake’

Colin Farrell: ‘The icing on the cake’

He’s been starring in movies for nearly a quarter of a century, but so far, he’s never been nominated for an Oscar.

But after winning a Golden Globe earlier this year, hopes are high that Irish star Colin Farrell could finally get his Academy Award for his role of slighted friend Padraic in The Banshees Of Inisherin.

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The 46-year-old star, who will be bringing his teenage son to the ceremony, told Sky News ahead of the big night: “To do the film, to be off the west coast of Ireland with the cast we had, the crew that we had and reuniting with this fella [co-star Brendan Gleeson} and reuniting with Martin, I was happy.

“Then Venice happened, and we were all shocked at the response we got in Venice and then since then it’s just been like a snowball. So, it’s icing on a cake that we were more than happy to have ravished already.”

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The star of The Mummy speaks about his first lead role in over a decade

Brendan Fraser: ‘Frothy, happy and giddy’

One of the biggest stars of the 1990s, Canadian-American actor Brendan Fraser’s return to Hollywood after nearly 20 years out of the limelight has been nothing short of spectacular.

The 53-year-old’s comeback, thanks to the role of morbidly obese English teacher Charlie in Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale, has even inspired its own definition – the “Bren-aissance”.

Fraser told Sky News he hopes the character’s “journey of redemption” will go on to “change some hearts and minds about how we feel about these issues”.

He said he had no doubts about signing up for the film: “Darren Aronofsky is a world-class film maker who has a track record for bringing out very good and even transformative performances from the actors he chooses to work with.

“So, I didn’t have any doubts knowing how good he is at what he does, if anything I had enthusiasm and some hope and some humility and a little bit of creative intimidation, I will admit too.”

And as for the experience of being up for an Oscar, he said: “It’s new to me but we’re all frothy and happy and giddy and happy for this with fingers crossed and fondest hopes for success but who knows what the result is going to be?

“I’m confident and I think that we have a shot of making it to the finish line.”

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The former child star says he ‘was so nervous’ to return to acting

Ke Huy Quan: ‘A wild ride’

On a comeback rollercoaster of his own, Ke Huy Quan, has worked through childhood fame thanks to Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom and The Goonies, followed by near-obscurity, and is now bouncing back into the spotlight with his critically acclaimed role in Everything Everywhere All At Once. It’s been quite the journey.

Quan plays Waymond Wang (and Alpha Waymond) in the parallel universe bonanza, which has surprised many with its numerous award show nominations and wins.

He told Sky News the response to the film has been overwhelming: “When I decided to step back into acting, I was so nervous because I didn’t know what the audience would think – the last time they saw me up on the screen I was a little kid, and now I’m a middle-aged man.

“So, so to have them respond so positively has been incredible.”

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And as for taking the role, he says it was a no-brainer: “When I read the script, I knew it was special. I loved it, it was a script I wanted to read for a long time, and we had the most fun making it, but we didn’t expect all of this.

“I mean, all these, you know award nominations and the audience embracing a movie the way they did is beyond anything we ever imagined.”

And he’s clearly loving every minute of awards season: “I’m enjoying it very much. I’m very grateful for everything that has happened since. And yeah, it’s been it’s been a wild ride.”

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Michelle Williams says it’s ‘hard to feel like a great mum’ while serving her acting work

Michelle Williams: ‘Always doing something new’

It’s her fifth Academy nomination, but could it be her first win?

Michelle Williams, 42, plays Mitzi Fabelman, the mother to a fictional Steven Spielberg in the semi-autobiographical film The Fabelmans which tells the story of his early life.

She told Sky News the film relates to her own experience as a mother: “I think it’s an incredible balance to try and strike and I do think balance is the correct word as it is something that is constantly adjusting and that you’re always looking for your footing on, it really is a give and take.

“Sometimes I think when you’re really serving your work, it’s really hard to feel like you’re being a great mom, and when you’re being an incredible mom you know that your work is languishing, so you have to find a way to go back and forth between these two realities and get comfortable with that discomfort.”

Despite the constant juggle, she says the rewards are worth it – awards or no awards: “I do this for my own sense of satisfaction, purpose, self-esteem, I want to feel a certain way internally about my contribution to this job that I’ve been doing for 30 years that is the only thing I’ve ever done and it’s always about doing something new.”

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The Love Actually star says working on the film was ‘deeply gratifying’

Bill Nighy: ‘Absolutely marvellous’

The 73-year-old British star plays buttoned-up civil servant Mr Williams, who works joylessly in the county public works department, until a terminal diagnosis inspires him to make a change.

Living is The Kazuo Ishiguro-scripted remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 film Ikiru – which quite literally reminds us to make the most of life.

Nighy told Sky News the reserved and stiff upper lip manner of the film was something he relished: “I’m fascinated by it, both from an acting point of view and because it’s fun. You know, to act in that kind of recklessly restrained manner and I’m interested in it as a thing.

“I think it probably is regrettable and psychiatrists would probably say it’s a deeply unhealthy way but there’s also something kind of heroic about it and it’s funny that you weren’t allowed to express anything really.”

Luckily, he says the response to the movie has been far from restrained: “I feel very, very, very good about it, as you can imagine. It’s been marvellous. People really respond to the movie and they’re inspired by it, which is what it was designed to do. So, it’s deeply, deeply gratifying.”

He even admits to enjoying all the attention – at least a little bit: “As much as I’m able to enjoy anything, I have a negative tendency which I have to really kind of combat. But no, seriously, yeah, it’s absolutely marvellous.”

And as for coping with awards season, he’s upbeat and positive: “I just try and do the day, really. I mean, I don’t sit around really thinking about awards. And it’s been a while since I’ve been mentioned in dispatches, but it’s all very cheerful and fun.”

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The Banshees of Inisherin filmmaker on working with Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson

Martin McDonagh: ‘Exciting and scary at the same time’

The man behind Irish tragicomedy Banshees Of Inisherin – a tale of male friendship gone sour – has been blown away by the positive response to the movie starring Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon and Barry Keogh – all of whom are up for Oscars too.

He told Sky News: “We thought we were just making a smallish film and we didn’t think it would ever have this kind of reaction. It’s been amazing.

“Yeah, it’s great to do it like with mates, you know, Colin and Brendan are all mates and Kerry and Barry too. So yeah, it’s been a dream, really.”

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The movie’s up for the biggest prize of the night – best picture – as well as best original screenplay, best score and best editing. And McDonagh’s up for best director too.

Despite four of his Banshee actors being up for gongs, he says he isn’t expecting to become the go-to director for actors looking for a nod: “I hope not, I don’t like working! But no, it’s been amazing. And fun too you know, they’re such a nice bunch and it was a joy to make the film with them and it’s a joy to be able to do this stuff with them too.”

And as for awards season, McDonagh will be using the silver-lining approach to cope with any feelings of disappointment should he not get the prize on the night.

He explains: “I’m bad at public speaking, so I kind of I’m half happy when we lose so I don’t have to go up there. But no, it’s better to be in the mix than not to be in the mix. So, it’s weirdly both exciting and scary at the same time.”

You can watch the Academy Awards on Sunday 12 March from 11pm exclusively on Sky News and Sky Showcase. Plus, get all the intel from our Oscars special Backstage podcast, available wherever you get your podcasts, from Monday morning.

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