Octavia Spencer Talks About ‘The Help,’ Minny Jackson, and Oscar Buzz
Octavia Spencer is having a very good year. The actor was previously best known for supporting roles in movies like " Drag Me to Hell" and " Being John Malkovich," along with a bunch of television appearances, but this year she is widely expected to get a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her performance in "The Help," which comes out on DVD this week. She plays Minny Jackson, an African-American maid whose sharp tongue gets her into trouble. It's a role that Spencer seems born to play, and indeed she was. Kathyrn Stockett, who wrote the book the movie is based on, was friends with Spencer and wrote the character with her in mind.
Recently, I had a chance to talk to Spencer over the phone about the movie, her character, and that entire Oscar buzz.
Jonathan Crow: This is a big breakout role for you. And there's been a lot of talk about an Oscar nomination for your performance. Do you find yourself thinking about that a lot, or are you able to ignore it?
Octavia Spencer: Well, there is no way really to ignore it. Here is what I will say. It was easier to push it to the side when the movie first came out. Now that it's persisted -- thank God, it's persisted -— it's harder to do that. It is every actor's dream to be recognized with any accolades. And I would be lying if I said anything otherwise. But I am a control freak and I know that this is beyond my control, so the only thing I can do is live each day. I am having a ball.
JC: I saw you with the rest of the cast at the Hollywood Movie Awards earlier this year. You all looked very close.
Photo by Dreamworks
OS: Well, I will tell you, Viola [Davis] and I talk every other day. I am either emailing or texting with Emma [Stone] and Jessica Chastain at least once or twice a week. I just saw Bryce [Dallas Howard] last week. Allison Janney is one of my best friends on the planet. I mean, we are a very close-knit group. They are people that I want in my life.
JC: I read that you've known director Tate Taylor for a long time. I mean, you were roommates, right?
OS: Yeah, and our next-door neighbor is the producer, Brunson Green. My relationship with Tate dates back to the summer of 1995, and Brunson I met the winter of 1996. So yeah, it's a very incestuous group.