The 27th annual Film Independent Spirit Awards took place on February 25, 2012, in Santa Monica, California. Here is what this Spirit Awards winner said backstage in the Spirit Awards press room.
Best Supporting Male
What does this Spirit Award mean to you?
This is lovely because this is such a valuable award.
People still identify you as Captain von Trapp in “The Sound of Music”? How do you feel about that and about the relatively new recognition that you’re getting for “Beginners”?
The old persona seems to chase me around every year when every new generation of [children] have to go through “The Sound of Music.” “Beginners” is such an extraordinarily delightful and moving story. And I was so thrilled and honored to be in it.
Does it surprise you that you’re getting so much recognition for an independent movie that most people haven’t seen?
It does surprise me a little bit because the film has not been seen by a tremendous amount of people. It opened so long ago that it didn’t join in the flurry of movies that are now taking place up to the Academy Awards. So I think it’s absolutely amazing. And winning it, I hope like hell it helps the film be seen again. I know they’re going to put it on DVD now, but maybe they’ll reissue it. I don’t know. It’s a lovely, lovely picture.
You’re getting a lot of awards for your role in “Beginners.” Have these awards been doing anything for your career? Are you going to capitalize on this success?
I am. I have to because I’m going to croak any minute! You’ve got to keep going, man. [He laughs.]
What’s next for you?
I am going to do something for HBO. It’s a very good script. I won’t talk about it until all the ink is dried.
In “Beginners,” you play a gay man who has cancer. What did you do to personify this role? Did anyone in the cast or crew inspire you?
[He says jokingly] The whole crew was gay! [He says seriously] No, it was in the script. It was so clear. [“Beginners” writer/director] Michael [Mills’] father, that’s what it was all about. It’s a true character. And he’d written it with such affection and lack of self-pity, it was fun to do. It made me so relaxed.
What part of your “Beginners” character did you relate to the most?
The humor, I think. His marvelous humor against all odds. I think it’s a lesson to everyone who goes through cancer and dying. He treated it with a sort of carefree sense of humor. No self-pity at all.
For “Beginners,” you’ve been winning almost every award for which you’ve been nominated. How do you feel about that? Does it get predictable for you?
Yes, isn’t it boring? [He laughs.] Yes, it is fun. I’m not crazy about the red carpet. I was so grateful on one of the award nights to see a gray carpet. What a relief! No, I’m having a good time. Thank you very, very much.
Do you have any advice to young people who want to become actors?
Yes. If they’re going into this incredibly horrific profession, they better love every minute of it. Otherwise, just quit while you can.
What made you decide to take this role in “Beginners”?
Because it was so well-written and so human. There can be no better way of describing it.
Do you have plans to write another book?
I’d like to write another book, but not about me this time. That’s tough, to write about yourself. I’d love to write another book.
How did you manage to not be upstaged by Cosmo the dog in “Beginners”?
Well, we had a little private talk. And now that you mention it, Cosmo and Uggie [the dog in “The Artist”] is much more human than Uggie. Uggie was just a trickster, a circus dog. Our dog had soul!
For more info: “Beginners” website
Spirit Awards website
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