Electric Company

By Setoodeh, Ramin; Ansen, David | Newsweek, February 8, 2010 | Go to article overview

Electric Company


Setoodeh, Ramin, Ansen, David, Newsweek


Byline: Ramin Setoodeh and David Ansen

Six actors. One room. A conversation so intimate, we were even invited to tag along for potty breaks. Welcome to NEWSWEEK's 13th Oscar Roundtable.

Morgan, you are 72 years old and the only one here who already has an Oscar. Do you still get nervous as an actor?

MORGAN FREEMAN: No.

JEFF BRIDGES: Never?

FREEMAN: If I'm doing a stage play, I get energized before I go onstage.

BRIDGES: You came from dancing, right?

FREEMAN: I didn't come from dancing. I came from acting, but I was told I looked so good moving that I should study dance.

Who told you such a thing?

FREEMAN: I don't remember the lady's name.

WOODY HARRELSON: I knew there was a woman involved.

FREEMAN: The story of my life.

Carey, you're only 24. How did you get into acting?

CAREY MULLIGAN: My family grew up in hotels. My dad was a hotel manager, and we moved around a lot. I went to a huge international school in Germany. They had a big musical-theater department. From age 6, that's all I wanted to do.

GABOUREY SIDIBE: I didn't want to be an actress. I'm a very lazy person, and I thought it looked like a lot of work, and I don't like rejection. But somehow every audition I've ever gone on, I've gotten the role. So that's weird. My first day on the Precious set, I showed up and I was afraid of all the people. How do we know that I really can act? How do we know I can carry this film? It wasn't until I got right in front of the camera that I completely forgot to be afraid. There was a job that I had to do, and I just did it.

HARRELSON: But you must get amped up before the take.

SIDIBE: I don't know. I listen to a lot of music--I have fight music on. But I listen to it before I do my laundry, too.

SANDRA BULLOCK: The Rocky theme?

SIDIBE: Yeah. There were days on set, I was so sick they would have to hum the Rocky theme for me. I look at being in front of a camera as a fight, and I'm going to win.

BULLOCK: Really? Because I do the Mission: Impossible theme. Don don don don. I totally get that.

Sandra, your mother was an opera singer, right?

BULLOCK: And my father was an opera-singer voice teacher. We went back and forth to Europe--my mother would sing in the operas. I think when you're presented with that kind of dedication to a craft, everything else pales in comparison. It's scary because if you don't step up to the plate in the way that they did, you're not really stepping up to a plate. So that gave me a fear of trying to be better and using that fear to turn over every stone and get close to what they've done.

SIDIBE: My mom is kind of like a stage mom, but without a kid that wants to be onstage in a lot of ways. She used to take me to Huggies commercials, and I would cry and kick. I hated it.

BULLOCK: I want to see the pictures.

Did you ever play a kid in a Huggies commercial?

SIDIBE: No. Because I would cry too much. They're not going to hire a crying baby.

How about you, Woody?

HARRELSON: With regard to --c ?

SIDIBE: My mom.

HARRELSON: I think really what made me want to be an actor is that I got into Elvis after his death. They had these things in TV Guide where you can send two cents and get five records, but then you have to buy them for the rest of your life. I got Elvis's golden oldies, and I started singing it. Cut to: I'm in the library, and some of my buddies from the football team are saying, "Woody, do your Elvis." I'm like, it's just before Christmas, this place is loaded with people. They keep trying to convince me, but I resisted for a while, and that inner performer finally wanted to come up. So I started singing: "Well, I bless my soul/What's wrong with me."

BULLOCK: Keep going!

HARRELSON: Pretty soon the whole library--everybody is gathered around in a circle clapping. …

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