Today at New York celebrity lunch spot Michael's, "Les Misérables" director Tom Hooper arrived minutes before 1 p.m. sure that he was not going to get nominated. He knew DGA president Taylor Hackford was supposed to call all five nominees before the 1 p.m. announcement, and Hooper had yet to hear from him. (By the way, Quentin Tarantino and David O. Russell didn't get the call; Steven Spielberg, Kathryn Bigelow, Ang Lee, and Ben Affleck did.)
So, there Hooper was, facing a lunch in his honor and, possibly, a public disappointment. The Oscar winner (for "The King's Speech) had tried to convince himself that he was relieved not to have the pressure of being a DGA nominee, he confessed to an intimate crowd that included breakout star Eddie Redmayne, CBS This Morning's Gayle King, Good Morning America's Lara Spencer, and legendary Woody Allen producer Jean Doumanian. As Hooper explained between the salad and the chicken and after a charming toast by Redmayne, it's much more of a relief to be nominated than not.
So why did Hackford, aka Mr. Helen Mirren, wait until 12:57 p.m. to call Hooper, who had directed Mirren in the British TV miniseries "Elizabeth I?" The director revealed that the DGA honcho waited until the last moment because he knew that Showbiz411 Hollywood celebrity maven Roger Friedman would be at Hooper's lunch, and Hackford didn't want the news to get out before the official announcement.
A Universal executive whispered to Yahoo! Movies that there were shouts of joy in Michael's after Hooper got off the phone with Hackford, and the mood at the lunch was ebullient.
Hooper also treated those in attendance to an anecdote about Redmayne that left the star, seated beside me at Table 2, blushing. When the actor auditioned to play the Earl of Southampton in "Elizabeth I," Hooper had one last question for Redmayne. Could he ride horses? Redmayne, wanting the part, said yes. Oops. Hooper cast Redmayne, and months later, there they were in Lithuania shooting a scene in which Southampton had to charge past the cameras. Redmayne hadn't done his homework. The actor's horse ran away with him, and in the finished film, according to Redmayne, in an upper corner he can be seen flailing, half out of the stirrups, body akimbo as co-star Hugh Dancy handles his stallion impeccably in the foreground.
What's the punch line? When Redmayne auditioned to play Marius in "Les Misérables," Hooper asked him whether he could sing. Redmayne said yes. Really? Fortunately, this time it was true. Redmayne told me that Hooper added the scene in "Les Misérables" in which Marius rides a horse and brandishes a flag just to add a day of humor to the shoot.