Bright, Shining Stars
We think this talented crew should all get awards.
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“I usually start out sketching what I think a character might look like and try to see what all the possibilities could be in front of me,” says Stuhlbarg.
His performance was anything but a caricature—Stuhlbarg provides a perfect portrait of the ’60s Jewish professor “living in a perpetual pause,” blindsided when his ordinary life begins to systematically fall apart. His anxiety laced performance was also informed by his desire to please the Coens, who famously provide little acting affirmation.
And while Stuhlbarg’s future now looks quite bright, the actor has had his share of Job-esque “why me?” moments. “I have certainly looked up to the heavens on occasion and wondered why things are happening to me the way they are happening,” he says. This year that luck seems to have shifted, and yet Stuhlbarg still approached the intimidating awards arena without anxiety, “I find it best just to go and have a good time,” he says. “What will be, will be.”
Dame Helen Mirren has walked this walk before.
The last time the British actress was center stage in the awards derby was for 2006’s The Queen, when she went home with an armload of accolades—including an Oscar—for her portrayal of Elizabeth II. While she remains deeply appreciative of the honors, Mirren’s most vivid memories are the decidedly unregal aspects of the awards-ceremony circuit.
“I was constantly sitting through these long, endless evenings, and I was always the last one up; it was brutal!” she says with a faux dramatic flourish. “‘Just let me go home, please—and let me drink!’” She’s been waving away the wine steward again this year after her bravura Oscar-nominated performance in The Last Station as Leo Tolstoy’s long-suffering wife, Sofya, herself a drama queen (or countess, to be precise) of the highest order.
The part came shortly after The Queen, “and as an actor your dream is to get something which is the opposite of what you’ve just done,” she says. “Obviously the queen doesn’t show any emotions or the things you don’t show to other people. It’s distasteful to do that. Sofya is the absolute opposite—a kind of volcanic creature.” Mirren deftly balances high dudgeon and deep feeling. “It was really important to make the audience not necessarily like her or love her, but to go along with her.”
And while Mirren may have a lofty tally of trophies on her mantel, her long-term career goals remain more common: “Just to work with more great actors and actresses. That’s fun!”
For An Education’s Oscar nominee Carey Mulligan, one of the better parts of being thrust into the whirlwind of the awards derby is the endless array of designer offers and options—but not because she’s an aspiring fashionista. Haute couture provides the 24-year-old actress with something to comfortably cloak herself in for her newfound red-carpet close-ups. “I find it hard to be photographed,” she says. “It’s nice to wear things that scare you at first—it’s a barrier between you and the cameras.”
PHOTOGRAPH BY WILLIAMS AND HIRAKAWA/ICON INTERNATIONAL; SIMON PERRY (FORD); GILES KEYTE (MIRREN); JOE SCHMELZER (STUHLBARG); STYLING BY VANESSA GELDBACH FOR EXCLUSIVE ARTISTS; GROOMING BY SONIA LEE FOR EXCLUSIVE ARTISTS; STUHLBARG SHOT ON LOCATION AT THE NEWLY RENOVATED FOUR SEASONS HOTEL LOS ANGELES AT BEVERLY HILLS; RANKIN/TRUNK ARCHIVE (MULLIGAN); JEFF VESPA (RENNER); PALEN (SIDIBE); ERIC WILLIAMS/DR PHOTO MANAGEMENT (MCKAY); STYLING BY JUSTIN DUCOTY FOR EXCLUSIVE ARTISTS; GROOMING BY RANDI PETERSON FOR ARTISTS BY TIMOTHY PRIANO