Eight Actors Receive Virtuoso Awards for Standout Performances
Claire Foy signing autographs (Photos: Fritz Olenberger)
By edhat staff
The 34th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) continued its tribute series with the presentation of the Virtuosos Award presented by Ugg, which recognizes a select group of talent whose noteworthy performances in film have elevated them into the national cinematic dialogue.
This year’s honorees included: Yalitza Aparicio (Roma) Sam Elliott (A Star is Born), Elsie Fisher (Eighth Grade) Claire Foy (First Man), Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?), Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie (Leave No Trace), John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman) and Steven Yeun(Burning).
Prior to being presented with their awards, each honoree engaged in a one-on-one discussion with Turner Classic Movies host Dave Karger. The one-on-one discussions were followed by a panel discussion, also moderated by Karger.
The evening was full of warmth and laughter and the utmost appreciation for legend Elliott, who received a standing ovation upon taking the stage.
Elliott didn’t realize how substantial his role in "A Star Was Born" was until he saw the film at the Toronto International Film Festival. Prior to the screening in Toronto, he had seen a second assembly where, in his own words, “the relationship between Stefani and Bradley was fully blown, the music was fully developed, but the supporting cast really had gotten hit hard in the edit.” Upon seeing the film in Toronto, Elliott recalled: “That was one of the things that got me. Oh, I really am in this movie.”
When discussing the ambiguous ending of his film "Burning," Steven Yeun stated the director's films have always been a way of reflecting the world back at the viewer. "I think what we were all trying to go for was an openness…to tell you a story that you kind of direct, that you impose what these people are and what they did,” he said.
John David Washington of "BlacKkKlansman" recounted how Director Spike Lee reached out to him with this project. “It was almost like we were working already,” he mused. “I got a text message from a number I didn’t recognize, and it read, ‘Yo this Spike. Call me.’”
Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie spoke at length about acting as a profession, which included noting how, “It’s not just putting on a performance; it’s not faking; it’s being; it’s sharing true emotions; and it’s an opportunity to make a difference and to tell really important stories.”
Richard E. Grant discussed working with Melissa McCarthy in "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" saying it took “3.5 nanoseconds” for him to know that working together would be great. “We met on a Friday, two years ago in New York in January, and we had two hours together to talk through the scenes in the movie,” he recalled. “I asked her if she was a method actress and she said no ; and she said, are you a method actor, and I said no. So we started talking about wigs, and teeth, and costumes, and where our characters lived, and grew up, and what their sex lives were, and then we’re off and running.” He joked: “We started shooting on a Monday and she’s to have my twins in August.”
Claire Foy of "First Man" described channeling emotion while acting stating, "I feel that I never want to cheapen someone’s real life experience,” she told Karger. Instead of thinking back to a moment in her own life in order to channel a particular type of emotion into a scene, Foy asserted: “I find it moving enough or heartbreaking enough to just think about what someone was going through.”
Elsie Fisher filmed "Eighth Grade "immediately following her actual eighth-grade year in school. She is now in tenth grade and when asked what a film about tenth grade might look like, she contemplated: “Eighth grade is kind of just chaos – it’s like war. But tenth grade is like two summers after the war, where you can still have PTSD from it but you’re a little cooler now.”
The most memorable moment of the evening took place during the full panel when Karger asked each honoree to name an actor with whom they feel they would have an amazing rapport. Washington immediately responded with “Beyoncé,” put down the microphone, and pretended to walk away. The entire panel and audience broke out into laughter. After a few moments of contemplation, Yeun, Grant, Foy, Fisher, and McKenzie decided to give the same answer as Washington. Elliott, however, continued to hold out and when he gave his answer it caught everyone by surprise. “I’d like to work with Claire Foy,” he finally said. The audience cheered and applauded and Foy exclaimed with a smile, “Good god. Oh my god. I actually think I’m blushing.”
Following the conclusion of the panel discussion, actor Christopher Lloyd presented each honoree with their award.