'Doubt': Feeling the Oscar pressure

The Meryl Streep/Philip Seymour Hoffman drama Doubt has taken a few hits lately, with Variety critic Todd McCarthy calling Streep’s turn as a nun “a questionable central performance.” The film, written and directed by John Patrick Shanley (a past Best Original Screenplay winner for Moonstruck), is still a strong contender for all the big prizes. My colleague Carrie Bell attended its L.A. premiere earlier this week and spoke to Shanley and his cast; here’s what they had to say about all the buzz.

John Patrick Shanley You can’t set out to do something with the plan to get an Oscar. I guarantee you that you’d never win with that attitude. I have been lucky enough to win one and I don’t think going in people thought Moonstruck was going to be an Oscar movie. So when buzz starts happening, you think, I hope I survive this awards crush. It is a job in itself to try to win awards. There are people who specialize in that. And if anything goes wrong they’re not going to blame Meryl. They’re not gonna blame Phil. They’re gonna come to me. If you don’t like it, I’m the problem.

Philip Seymour Hoffman I welcome the awards buzz because serious movies like this need that to draw more people to the theater. I didn’t just show up here tonight as a masochistic act: I have such self-loathing issues that I thought I’d show up for a movie that I didn’t believe in. No, I think that the movie is a really great piece of cinema and writing and I think that John deserves the recognition. He did an amazing job with the film. Buzz is buzz and it gets created on everything. You just hope the buzz coming in your direction is positive.

Amy Adams I am excited that Philip is so excited for the Oscar buzz. I really respect his opinion. If I wasn’t in the film and I didn’t know how good it was, I would go see Doubt based on Philip’s recommendation. I agree that John deserves recognition. I think the script is brilliant. It is a very good adaptation and his direction isn’t too shabby either. And I can’t say enough good things about Viola and Meryl and Philip. They are all tremendous. And if everyone else gets recognized and I didn’t, I would still be thrilled. It is a team mentality. It is mostly the four of us on screen and we got to watch each other work up close and personal. You never go in with expectations of awards, although at this point maybe Meryl could with her 14 nominations, but when I watch the film, I am blown away by their performances. If those accolades come, fantastic. If they don’t, it doesn’t take anything away in my eyes.

Viola Davis Everyone is asking me how it feels and to be honest with you it is making my behind this tight [makes a fist]. It makes you very, very nervous. I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. You don’t want to lose perspective. I consider myself No. 1, a grounded person and No. 2, an actor.

addCredit(“Frazer Harrison/Getty Images”)

Comments (6 total) Add your comment
  • Allison

    I”ve been dying to see this just because of the cast. Oscar buzz has nothing to do with it, but it can’t hurt.

  • Kelly

    There is no review of Doubt at variety.com – I just looked. In what context is the reviewer discussing Streep’s performance? That he did not like it or that it was a supporting role?

  • Brian

    Oh, for the humanity of it all give Meryl another Best Actress Oscar. She only has 1 (and 1 Supporting) which is criminal. 2 wins, 15 noms…she is the most losing actress in the history of the Oscars. GIVE HER MORE OSCARS NOW!

  • Alan of Montreal

    well, Viola Davis knows what she’s talking about–there was talk of a nomination for her for both Far From Heaven and Solaris, which didn’t happen, so i’m sure she’s just taking everything in stride

  • Sal

    Would Hoffman’s performance be considered for Best Actor or Best Supporting Actor?

  • Gary of LA

    This is Meryl’s year— Best Actress!!
    It is bound to happen this year!!!! She is simply amazing for “Doubt”!
    Best picture for me is MILK, with Sean Penn as Best Actor.
    Kate Winstet for Best Supporting Actress for The Reader
    Josh Brolin for Supporting Actor for MILK

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