Oscar Noms Juggle Fast-Paced Careers with Campaign Commitments
The road to Oscar is famously paved with a jam-packed itinerary of press conferences, buzzy soirees and kudos fests galore, but none of this fazes first-time supporting actress nominee June Squibb, for whom this seasonal carousel of champagne cocktails and clicking cameras feels like “a natural thing.”
“I tend to be pretty relaxed,” says the plucky octogenarian star of Alexander Payne’s best picture candidate “Nebraska.” “At this phase of my life I’ve gone through so many changes and ways of doing things that I just sort of roll with the punches; I don’t really plan anything.
“With my career in acting, I never knew where I was going to be practically from day to day. I could get a phone call and be off thousands of miles away the next day and my family got used to it. I truly never know what the future holds. I stopped even trying to think or guess what it might be. I sort of trained myself to accept these things and go with them.”
Which is not to say that Squibb’s “exciting” and “wonderful” inaugural awards romp has not been without its own
“I didn’t realize that the SAG (Awards) nominations would be announced on the same day that I was going to film a Comcast commercial,” says the in-demand guest star on such series as HBO’s “Getting On” and “Girls” (episodes set to air in March). “I was in the car when I found out — all the other Paramount people were at the Four Seasons. So here I was trying to get ready for this commercial while I’m outside on the sidewalk talking on the phone to everybody.”
The media blitz can prove especially tricky for the Hollywood scribe attempting to juggle campaign commitments with scripting duties, for which solitude and focus (and not black-tie attire and red carpet interviews) are oft integral to the process.
“I prefer the writing to the talking,” says “Nebraska” scripter Bob Nelson, fielding his first Oscar nomination. “But it’s part of our job and we owe it to those who have backed us to promote the project as much as possible. I’m more used to it at this point, but it will always seem a bit unnatural.”
“It’s difficult,” agrees “Philomena” co-writer Steve Coogan, who also produced and starred in the film adaptation of journalist Martin Sixsmith’s bestseller. “I love writing more than acting, but I have to earn a living too, you know? I’ve got to pay the rent.”
Currently penning a fictional period piece set in the 1970s with “Philomena” co-writer Jeff Pope, and also pecking away at his forthcoming autobiography, Coogan, who said he is dispatching assistants to interview his parents for the book — “Well, I can’t remember everything about my life!” — admits to having fallen a bit behind deadline.
“If it weren’t for this campaign, we would have gotten it all done by now,” he notes with a wry laugh.
But what really stings about the Stateside Oscar race, Coogan says, is the time apart from his daughter, who lives in England.
“I know lots of people that would love to swap places, but it’s tough,” he says. “I keep wanting to go back home and I have to say to my daughter, ‘I have to stay a little longer, I have to talk to people.’”
For “Dallas Buyers Club” producer Robbie Brenner, the awards season “whirlwind” has meant balancing violin lessons and birthday party sleepovers for her kids with research screenings and Q&As.