Seven of 2014’s most memorable actors received honors on Sunday night at the Arlington in a modestly attended but exuberant evening for the SBIFF. The Virtuosos Award at the Fest traditionally gathers together a group of breakout actors, rising stars, and veteran actors just now getting their due for a night of short interviews moderated by Dave Karger of Fandango. In previous years, SBIFF has had a problem at locking down some guests, with one year featuring four of the seven actors advertised. But to the Fest’s credit this year, all seven were on hand to talk about their exciting year.
The group was made up of Chadwick Boseman, who inhabited the role of soul music legend James Brown to an uncanny degree in “Get On Up”; Ellar Coltrane, the boy of “Boyhood” who audiences watched grow up on film over the course of its 12-year shoot; Logan Lerman, the child actor who grew up to hold his own against Brad Pitt on screen in “Fury”; David Oyelowo, the British actor who brought Martin Luther King Jr. to life in “Selma”; Rosamund Pike, another British actor who gave us the very American, very Machiavellian wife in “Gone Girl”; J.K. Simmons, the veteran actor who tossed aside many years of lovable fatherly supporting characters to bring viewers the intense and sadistic jazz teacher in “Whiplash”; and former SNL member Jenny Slate, who plays the comic and complex lead role in “The Obvious Child.”
Out on the red carpet, a majority of the actors had time to stop and chat.
Jenny Slate talked about the stand-up sections of her movie, and her character’s willingness to let it all hang out, even when loved ones might be hurt. For herself she said she’d never do that. “I wouldn’t do anything to embarrass my husband, and I know that,” she said. “But (my character) Donna needs different things. On the other hand on stage I am very personal and open and rather blue and very joyful … I usually turn the focus on myself onstage.” “The Obvious Child” was filmed in 18 days and Ms. Slate said there was no indication the film would get this huge until Sundance 2014.
“Boyhood” star Ellar Coltrane talked about watching himself grow up on film, and said, “Recently watching it – I’ve seen it a dozen times now – is the first time I’ve been able to see Mason (his role) as a character. The first several times it was me, but not a surreal version of myself … I see a lot, it’s very emotional.”
Rosamund Pike took on her role as the wife in “Gone Girl” and has had tremendous fun playing with people’s expectations, especially the film’s questions about marriage and relationships. “I’ve been told by a lot a couples that they have gone separately to the film. The film raises questions about dating and having to perform, to be the perfect person for somebody, and asking how far removed you are from yourself. We are a nation of people pleasers … It’s the modern disease.”
For J.K. Simmons the vein-popping anger of his character’s tirades were not the most troublesome places to go, but only in the context of his career. “Thirty or twenty years ago it would have been difficult to shake off, but I’ve been doing this such a long time and Miles (Teller, his co-star) is such a goofball that we were able to up the intensity.”
David Oyelowo mentioned how Dr. Martin Luther King’s eldest son said he really captured the spirit of his father. “That was a pretty great endorsement,” he said. Andrew Young, C.T. Vivian, Diane Nash, and John Lewis, all who were there for the Civil Rights marches, all have given the actor their support. “It doesn’t get much better than that,” he said.
Each actor got a chance to speak on stage and all came back for their awards, presented by actor and Santa Barbara resident Christopher Lloyd.
SBIFF continues tomorrow with more films