Backstage chat at the Oscars – the big four

The Big Four interviews with 2023 Oscar winners Jamie Lee Curtis, Michelle Yeoh, Brendan Fraser, and Ke Huy Quan on Silver - www.silvermagazine.co.uk

Lucy Allen managed to bag backstage chats at the Oscars with Michelle Yeoh, Brendan Fraser, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Ke Huy Quan

In case you hadn’t noticed, the 95th Academy Awards has caused quite the stir. Not Will Smith level, obviously. But this year was not without drama; one suspects that with actors, this comes with the territory.

It’s a shame to see Angela Bassett miss out again, but we’re thrilled for Jamie Lee Curtis, 64. Brendan Fraser, 54, is having the season of HIS ACTUAL LIFE. And Ke Huy Quan, 51, was probably the most excited winner we’ve ever seen. 

I don’t normally add ages to an article like this unless it’s relevant, but I feel it’s relevant. Because this year’s awards has seen a definitive rise in older winners. Michelle Yeoh, 60, summed it all up when she said, “…don’t let anybody tell you you are ever past your prime. Never give up!”

You don’t need us to run down the full list of who won what by now. If you’re a fan, if you love the glam, you’ve already watched it, checked out the coverage, drooled over the fashion images.

What I’d like to do here is shine a light on the four winners above. We managed to bag backstage chats with them all. And if you’re a Silver regular, you’ll know what’s coming next. Yeah – these are not youngsters. This is not their first time at the rodeo, to coin a phrase.

Oscar winner Michelle Yeoh: we broke that glass ceiling

Interview with Michelle Yeoh on her Oscar win on Silver - www.silvermagazine.co.uk

13th Mar, 2023. Michelle Yeoh arriving at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party 2023, Los Angeles. Credit: Doug Peters/Alamy Live News

Michelle Yeoh has been celebrating winning the Actress in a Leading Role award at the Oscars. The Malaysian actress received the golden statuette at the 95th Academy Awards for her performance in ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’.

Michelle beat Cate Blanchett [‘Tár’], Ana de Armas [‘Blonde’], Michelle Williams [‘The Fabelmans’] and Andrea Riseborough [‘To Leslie’].

On collecting her award, Michelle said: “Thank you. Thank you. For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight—this is a beacon of hope and possibilities. This is proof that—dream big, and dreams do come true. And ladies, don’t let anybody tell you you are ever past your prime. Never give up!”

There’s more to the speech, but we wanted to pin down Michelle for a chat…

Backstage at the event…

Lucy: Congratulations Michelle. What does this win mean to you in terms of Asian representation within the entertainment industry?

“…tonight we freaking broke that glass ceiling. I Kung Fu’d it out and shattered it.”

MICHELLE YEOH: This is actually a historical moment, and I have to thank the Academy for acknowledging, embracing diversity and true representation. I think this is something that we have been working so hard towards for a very long time, and tonight we freaking broke that glass ceiling. I Kung Fu’d it out and shattered it, and we need this because there are so many who felt unseen, unheard. It’s not just the Asian community. This is for the Asian community and for anyone who has been identified as a minority. 

L: Have you ever felt like taking a step back from acting? And because you stayed, what advice would you give to people who are afraid to take up space?

MICHELLE YEOH: You should never be afraid. If this is your passion, this is your love, you have to stand up for yourself and for what you believe in and for what you want to do. I think that is what it is. I’m still here today. Finally, after 40 years, I get this. 

It just goes to show, we will  we will win the battle. And that’s what we’re doing. So don’t give up. Never give up. Because once you give up, then it’s a loss. It’s a total loss, right? So, yes, don’t let anybody put you in a box. 

“So don’t give up. Never give up. Because once you give up, then it’s a loss.”

Dare to dream. Because if you don’t dream, then it’s impossible. But nothing is impossible. Look at me, I’m here.

L: So, yesterday was exactly a year ago when ‘Everything Everywhere all at Once’ premiered. Can you take us back to that day last year and refer to that day to how you are feeling today, with all this success today?

MICHELLE YEOH: It’s been quite a marathon, hasn’t it? For the cinema that we want a collective experience where we want to enjoy, share that laughter, crying, or whatever it is together. That is what the magic of being at the movies at South by Southwest, it was the first actualnot streaming, not virtual – festival. And we were so blessed that everyone came, and we were blown away. Because you know, you give your heart and soul to a movie, but there is never any guarantee… when you put it up in the sky, please don’t fall flat on your face, right? 

I swear to God, it’s you [viewers], all of you, because you made it interesting. They had to come to the cinemas to watch this crazy wacky movie. Because you didn’t want to be left out of the conversation. So in that way, thank you to all of you. You propelled our little gem of a film. Yes, we had a huge beating heart.

This movie has helped in communication. This movie has helped to open hearts between families, whether it’s husband and wife, daughters and mothers, daughters and fathers, but just simply family. And we never give up on each other. 

L: Mothers are a big feature for you. What is something that your mother told you or gave you that you’ve carried with you through this journey?

MICHELLE YEOH: I think mothers are very important to all of us because without them, none of us would be sitting in this room, to start off with. The most important thing is my mother has always instilled in me confidence. Taught me about love. Taught me about kindness and compassion. 

I’m not very, very good at that at times. Actually, the recent thing that she asked me to do is ‘Don’t wear pants to the Oscars.’ I think what mothers do is they’re constantly reminding you to be better. And they do it with love and they do it because they really want you to be better so you have more opportunities, and you will have a better life. And that for them, is their ultimate goal.

L: Thank you so much

MICHELLE YEOH: Thank you.

Brendan Fraser: I hope I can live up to this

Interview with Brendan Fraser on his Oscar win, on Silver - www.silvermagazine.co.uk

12th Mar, 2023. Brendan Fraser walking on the red carpet at the 2023 Vanity Fair Oscar Party (Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA) Credit: Sipa US/Alamy Live News

Brendan Fraser has won the Actor in a Leading Role award at the Oscars. The US actor received the golden statuette at the 95th Academy Awards for his performance in ‘The Whale’.

Brendan beat Austin Butler [‘Elvis’], Colin Farrell [‘The Banshees of Inisherin’], Paul Mescal [‘Aftersun’] and Bill Nighy [‘Living’].

On collecting his award, Brendan said: “So this is what the multiverse looks like! Oh my goodness!

“I thank the Academy for this honour and for our studio, A24, for making such a bold film. I am grateful to Darren Aronofsky for throwing me a creative lifeline and hauling me aboard the good ship, ‘The Whale’. It was written by Samuel D. Hunter who is our lighthouse. Gentlemen, you laid your whale hearts bare so that we could see into your souls like no one else could do. It is my honour to be named alongside you in this category.”

Backstage at the event, Brendan said:

L: Huge congratulations. This is such an amazing moment for you. How do you feel right in this moment? What does winning this award mean to you?

BRENDAN FRASER: I feel a bit light in the head. This is actually kind of heavy [referring to the statuette]. One arm might be longer than the other by the end of the evening. 

I guess it means that I’m going to have to find a job. I’m grateful for this because of the number of people who worked during a time of COVID that we all lived under, and we had to be very careful with one another to stay safe. And I think of all the films we’ve seen this year, there’s a secret ingredient, and my guess is that it’s that concern that we showed for one another and for the work that we do, because we all lived under an existential threat. 

We didn’t know if there would be a tomorrow. So going to make a film with this gravity just reinforced how important it is to perform as if it’s the first and last time you ever will. That’s all I’ve got.

L: What drew you to the role and how fulfilling this win is for you?

BRENDAN FRASER: Darren Aronofsky was going to make a film. Any actor is like a moth to the flame for that. And he told me that it was a story about a man who has been overeating and it’s harming him, and he’s very lonely, and he wants to reconcile with his child if he can. And that’s about all I knew. And, of course, he showed me the script. 

I was intensely moved by it, much in the same way, I learned, that Darren was when he first saw the stage play in New York ten years earlier that Sam D Hunter had written. Darren was quite forthright that this would be a challenging part just in terms of what it would take to create Charlie and his body, and luckily, he had now-Oscar winner Adrien Morot to do my makeup.

But it was my job to play Charlie from the inside out, and theirs to create him from the outside in.

L: Queer storytelling has come a long way since you starred in Gods and Monsters, which was also an Oscar-winning film. So how rewarding was it to bring a voice to a complicated queer character like Charlie? You have a lot of gay fans, the the gays love you! So…?

BRENDAN FRASER: I love you right back. Charlie is so much more than just a gay man. He’s a father, he’s an educator, he’s a truth seeker, and that he fell hopelessly, inconveniently in love with whomever is immaterial. He’s someone who found love, lost it, and then found it again. 

“Charlie is so much more than just a gay man. He’s a father, he’s an educator, he’s a truth seeker.”

I think that’s something that we can all take a page from. And know that with perseverance, if you put one foot in front of the other, like Charlie did, go to the light, believe me. If I can do it, you can too. Good things will happen.

L: What a year you’ve had. What was the first thought in your head when you heard your name called?

BRENDAN FRASER: This has been incredibly rewarding and affirming, and it’s given me a lesson in humility and gratitude. What did I hear when I first heard my name? I heard my name but I thought, ‘that can’t be right.’ But it was, so I guess I should get up there and say something quick!

 

Jamie Lee Curtis: Please don’t cancel me!

Interview with Jamie Lee Curtis on her Oscar win on Silver - www.silvermagazine.co.uk

12th March, 2023. Jamie Lee Curtis posing for photos in the press room at the The 95th Academy Awards. (Photo by Sthanlee B. Mirador/Sipa USA) Credit: Sipa US/Alamy Live News

Jamie Lee Curtis won Best Actress in a Supporting Role award at the Oscars. The US actress received the golden statuette at the 95th Academy Awards for her performance in ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’.

Jamie Lee beat Angela Bassett [‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’], Kerry Condon [‘The Banshees of Inisherin’], Hong Chau [‘The Whale’] and Stephanie Hsu [‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’].

On collecting her award, Jamie Lee said: “Stop. I have 45 seconds, and I promised Janet Yang I would do it well because I’m a good girl.”

She proceeded to thank her entire crew, her family, agents, team members and everyone who supports movies. It was quite the 45 seconds!

Read More: Getting candid: Interview with Jamie Lee Curtis

Backstage at the event, with Jamie Lee

L: Congratulations on this win, Jamie Lee

JAMIE LEE CURTIS: Thank you so much.

L: There are 65 women this year nominated for academy awards across various disciplines. How does it feel for you to be amongst that number?

JAMIE LEE CURTIS: Surreal and proud, and obviously I would like to see a lot more women being nominated so there’s gender parity in all the areas, in all the branches, and I think we’re getting there. We’re not anywhere near there. 

And of course, the inclusivity then that involves the bigger question, which is, how do you include everyone when there are binary choices, which is very difficult. And, as the mother of a trans daughter, I completely understand that and yet, to de-gender the category also I’m concerned will diminish the opportunities for more women, which is something I have also been working hard to try to promote. So it’s a complicated question, but I think the most important thing is inclusivity and more women. Basically, just fucking more women anywhere, anytime, all at once.

“I don’t believe in a world where there are a bunch of people up there looking down on us. I think we are them in our actions, and in our deeds, and in our ideas.”

L: You are everyone’s favourite nepo baby, as you said. Do you think your mum and dad are looking down on you tonight and smiling?

JAMIE LEE CURTIS: Well, let me just be honest. I don’t believe in a world where there are a bunch of people up there looking down on us. I think we are them in our actions, and in our deeds, and in our ideas, and then we build our own and then we give them to our children and that’s how the world goes on. So I am a product of them and I am a proud product of them. And I know they would be incredibly proud of me, of course. Thank you.

NEXT UP, THERE IS A VIRTUAL QUESTION…

JAMIE LEE CURTIS [completely misunderstanding the question!]: The virtual people don’t get shit. They don’t get food. They don’t get water. They’re at home. Their kids are screaming. Their husband’s cheating on them. They’re so bummed out. They want to be here with you people so bad.

[IT BECOMES CLEAR THAT THE QUESTION IS FROM AN ONLINE JOURNALIST]

JAMIE LEE CURTIS: Oh, excellent. Good. Good. Oh, you’re actually, I thought it was just sort of like a tweet. I didn’t realize there were people…. guys, don’t cancel me. Please do not cancel me because I assumed that your husband is cheating on you [laughs]. I literally thought when they said digital it was, like, a virtual that I thought it was a tweet question. Seriously. Do not ruin this moment for me. I cannot handle it if you cancel me now. Cancel me tomorrow. Just not tonight. Give me a break. I’m so sorry if I was insulting.

Q: How much Hungarian are you?

JAMIE LEE CURTIS: I can’t really show you on national television. How much am I? That’s very personal. I can sing that little song, (singing in Hungarian). I won’t sing to you people because Stephanie Hsu just sang, and she can sing; I can’t. Anyway, I love my Hungarian heritage.

Q: Can we consider this at least a semi-Hungarian Oscar?

JAMIE LEE CURTIS: Oh, yeah. The lower half. [Looks at statuette] Definitely the lower half.

L: Thank you so much.

JAMIE LEE CURTIS: Oh my goodness me. Now you people are going to hate me because I cracked wise. I’m so sorry. But I’m taking this really seriously. And this is the thrill of my life. And please don’t cancel me. Please. Thank you.

 

Ke Huy Quan: never forget where you came from

Interview with Ke Huy Quan on his Oscar win, on Silver - www.silvermagazine.co.uk

13th Mar, 2023. Ke Huy Quan walking on the red carpet at the 2023 Vanity Fair Oscar Party (Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA) Credit: Sipa US/Alamy Live News

Ke Huy Quan has been celebrating winning the Actor in a Supporting Role award at the Oscars. The Vietnamese/American actor received the golden statuette at the 95th Academy Awards for his performance in ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’.

Ke Huy Quan beat Barry Keoghan [‘The Banshees of Inisherin’], Brendan Gleeson [‘The Banshees of Inisherin’], Judd Hirsch [‘The Fabelmans’] and Brian Tyree Henry [‘Causeway’].

On collecting his award, Ke Huy Quan said: “Thank you. My mom is 84 years old. She is at home watching. Mom, I just won an Oscar.

“My journey started on a boat. I spent year in a refugee camp. And somehow, I ended up here on Hollywood’s biggest stage.

“They say, ‘Stories like this only happen in the movies.’ I cannot believe it’s happening to me.”

Backstage at the event, we caught up with Ke for a chat.

L: Congratulations!

KE HUY QUAN: “Thank you. Can you believe I’m holding one of these? This is so surreal. Wow.”

L: When you starred in ‘Goonies’ and ‘Indiana Jones’, you were credited as Jonathan Ke Quan. What does it mean to win an Oscar with your real name on it?

KE HUY QUAN: “When I started as a kid, I was you know, it was my birth name, Ke Huy Quan. And I remembered when it got really tough, my manager told me that maybe, you know, it would be easier if you were to have an American sounding name, and I was so desperate for a job that I would do anything. 

“And it’s insane that I at one point that I would, you know, try a different name, not the name that was given to me. But it can only show you how desperate I was to try to try to make things different. So when I decided to get back into acting, which was three years ago, the very first thing that I wanted to do was to go back to my birth given name, and to and tonight to see Ariana open that envelope and say ‘Ke Huy Quan,’ that was a really, really special moment for me. And then immediately I was so emotional. 

“But the first image that I had in my mind was my mom, was my mom, who is the reason why I am in America, who is the reason why I have a better life, I have all these opportunities. 

“Like I said in my acceptance speech, she sacrificed so much. She had a great life where we came from, and she gave all that up so that all her children, there’s nine of us, there’s nine of us, and every single one of them are so grateful to my parents. So yeah. And Dad [looks to the sky tearful] I hope you’re proud of me. So…”

L: How does it feel to call yourself an Oscar winner tonight and be here?

KE HUY QUAN: “Tonight, my family, a portion of them, I have a big family, flew in from Houston to be with me tonight. So that was really special. 

“And, during one of the commercial breaks, I ran up to Steven Spielberg, and he gave he a big hug. He put his arms around me and he said, ‘Ke, you are now an Oscar-winning actor.’ And hearing him say that meant the world to me, and I still cannot believe it. Yeah, I mean. Wow. Wow.”

“… my younger self would not know all the struggles that I went through to be here, because he was just having the time of his life being a kid, being on a set.”

L: if your younger self could be here now at the age of data and your younger Goonie brothers were here, what would they say to you right now?

KE HUY QUAN: “Well, my younger self would not know all the struggles that I went through to be here, because he was just having the time of his life being a kid, being on a set with, you know, on a pirate ship going down a water slide. 

“And, you know, right before this night started, Corey Feldman one of my Goonies brothers called. I was talking to Kerri Green and of course tonight, Jeff Cohen, who is my entertainment lawyer, is here tonight with me. He was in the audience. And that’s why I wanted to thank him because I love all of them so much, and every single one of them is so happy. Sean reached out, Josh, Martha, and, you know, we are always bonded you know, we’re family together. Goonies never say die.”

L: A lot of people think of you as a very positive person, relate to you in numerous ways. How do you just stay humble and true to yourself?

KE HUY QUAN: “It’s how I was brought up. It’s how I was taught and, also, that’s why I always say: Never forget where you came from, because if you forget that, then all humility goes out the window. I remember how difficult it was for me, so that’s why every time I walk on a movie set, I’m so grateful. This tonight was certainly wasn’t, you know, I didn’t think this was possible. But yeah, I don’t ever want to forget that, and I always want to I think it’s important to appreciate where you are. 

“Never forget where you came from, because if you forget that, then all humility goes out the window.”

“And I’m just so grateful. I’ve said this maybe some of you have heard it, you know, I didn’t think any of this would be possible. And God, it has been so crazy. All of a sudden my mind is drifting back to the days when I lost my health insurance during the pandemic when I couldn’t get a job. And you know, somebody asked me this earlier: Do I have anything planned? What am I doing next? I don’t know what I’m doing next. 

“All I know is, first thing tomorrow morning I’m going to call my agent because I remember when I was struggling, I would call my agent. I try not to bother him too much. But I would call him, you know, once every three months, once every six months, and I would say, ‘Hey, is there anything out there for me?’ And the answer would always be the same: ‘Oh, I’m so sorry. There’s nothing out there, but I’ll continue to look.’ So hopefully when I call my agent tomorrow, he will give me a different answer!”

L: Thank you

KE HUY QUAN: “Thank you so much. Thank you so much. I love you all. I love you all. I love you, love you, love you, love you.”

Read the Academy digital magazine

Edited for clarity. As told to Sam Harrington-Lowe

Read all about it

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About Sam Harrington-Lowe
Sam is Silver's founder and editor-in-chief. She's largely responsible for organising all the things, but still finds time to do the odd bit of writing. Not enough though. Send help.

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