Thursday, February 06, 2014

Virtuoso Goes One-On-One With Audience Member

By Taryn

This year I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Virtuosos awards. I hadn't gone before but I've always wanted to because of how it's the one tribute the Santa Barbara Film Fest does that honors more than one actor at a time. Tuesday night's honorees were Jared Leto, June Squibb, Michael B. Jordan, Daniel Bruhl, Adele Exarchopoulos, Brie Larson, and Oscar Issac. Unfortunately due to scheduling conflicts only Leto, Squibb, Jordan, and Larson were able to attend.

Even though only four out of the seven of the honorees showed up I still really enjoyed the tribute. Going in, I had only seen Dallas Buyers Club, and I have to say that Jared Leto (who plays Rayon) was definitely the star of the show. For good reason, he's this years favorite to win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

In the beginning of Leto's interview a woman from the audience heckled him about how he should not be recognized for playing a transgender woman, because he was a man. Her words were,"Trans-misogyny does not deserve an award," she shouted. "You don't deserve an award for portraying a trans-woman, because you're a man." This woman's opinion was not popular with the audience. I was personally very impressed with Leto's graceful response to this allegation:
"Because I'm a man, I don't deserve to play that part?" So you would hold a role against someone who happened to be gay or lesbian? They can't play a straight part?" Leto said. "Then you make sure that people that are gay, people that aren't straight, people like the Rayons of the world, would never have the opportunity to turn the tables and explore parts that aren't central to who they are."

He invited this woman to talk to him about this after the tribute, and he reportedly did. What made his response unique was that he didn't invite her to talk in a condescending way. He asked her in a way that was genuinely respectful and interested. The remainder of Leto's interview went on pretty routinely. He talked about his weight loss required to achieve Rayon's emaciated physical state necessary for the role, and how he interestingly has chosen not to watch the final cut of Dallas Buyers Club.

I found that all of the actor's in attendance were pretty dynamic and insightful in their interviews. Brie Larson has this Jennifer Lawrence-esque charm to her when she speaks. She was very honest about how she doesn't have any definite plans for her career going forward. Although, I'm sure that after her latest performance in Short Term 12 she can relax for a while, because directors and casting agents will be flocking to her.

Michael B. Jordan gave some interesting insight into the filming process of Fruitvale Station. He said that he and the rest of the cast worked closely with the friends and family of Oscar Grant, (the victim in the shooting that Fruitvale Station is based upon) and how that influenced how he played his role of Oscar.

The last interview was of June Squibb, the 84 year old co-star of Nebraska. I went in knowing nothing of Nebraska. However the clip they showed of it before her interview was the funniest of them all, which I was not expecting. It was the scene of her in a graveyard with her son and husband talking about all their various dead relatives. She refers to them, much to her son's shock, as "whores" and some being very ugly. She starred in About Schmidt and when asked if she ever planned to work with director Alexander Payne after that, she said no. She said that Payne said that he had only remembered her as, "The nice lady from About Schmidt."

The Virtuosos Award is meant to honor "up and coming" actors. This year it proved that an actor can be "up and coming" at any age.