Tag Archives: Academy Award

How ‘Moonlight’ pulled off the Oscar upset of a lifetime

Long before Barry Jenkins made his way to the podium through the bewildered throng that packed the Dolby Theatre stage at the Academy Awards, he sat in a Toronto hotel room explaining his movie’s quiet power.

“There’s something in the way black men grow up in this country,” said Jenkins. “There’s a lot of information on these men’s faces when they’re not speaking, partly because we’re robbed of our voices so much by society and the things society projects on us.”

It was, in a way, fitting that “Moonlight” — stealthy and silent — won best picture amid such cacophony Sunday night. Since its fall film festival debut, Jenkin’s tenderly lyrical film has steadily risen not through the loud kind of arm-waving that often catapults movies to the top prize — big box office, scene-chewing performances, historical sweep — but instead by a soulful, unremitting glow that slow-burned all the way to the Oscars.

Now that we more or less have some answers to “What the heck happened?” in the Oscars’ final moments — EnvelopeGate, if you will — we can turn to that other puzzler: How did “Moonlight” just pull off one of the biggest upsets in Academy Awards history?

While not quite as gasp-inducing as the gaff that preceded its win, “Moonlight” will surely rank alongside, if not above, shockers like “Shakespeare in Love” (over “Saving Private Ryan”) and “Crash” (over “Brokeback Mountain”) for sheer, oh-my-god surprise.

The odds were stacked against it. “La La Land,” with a record-tying 14 nominations, was seen as the hands-down favorite, having run up prizes from the Producers Guild, the Directors Guild, the BAFTAs and the Golden Globes. Though this usually hapless critic predicted a “Moonlight” win , virtually every Oscar prognosticator considered “La La Land” _ like Hillary Clinton, it turned out_ a lock.

But just as Clinton learned, there are dangers to being the presumed front-runner, especially when you’re seen as a representative of nostalgia and tradition in turbulent times.

Widely expected to honor itself again by awarding a showbiz celebration like “La La Land,” Hollywood veered instead to Miami’s Liberty City, and a film that ripples with the humanity of a young man — black, gay, poor — seldom dignified by the movies or other realms of society. Yet “Moonlight” isn’t a traditional social drama but a deeply personal one, soaked through with the kind of empathy many believe is missing from the national discourse. In the wake of the election of Donald Trump — surely a factor on Oscar night — Hollywood chose not a love letter to itself, but, as filmmaker Mark Duplass argued in an open-letter to academy voters , a “love letter to the core human values that connect us all.”

“Moonlight,” arguably the most critically adored film of 2016, is unquestionably deserving. In fact, it might even be too deserving. Films this good don’t often win best picture. Even “La La Land” star Emma Stone took a moment in the chaotic aftermath Sunday to exclaim: “I love ‘Moonlight!”

But “Moonlight” was made for just $1.5 million. It was only Jenkins’ second film, and his first in eight years. Having made $22.2 million at the box office, it’s one of the littlest-seen best-picture winners ever. The littlest seen best-picture winner was Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker” (2009), which had made $12.7 million at the time of the Oscars.

The comparison is a good one, in some ways. Like “Moonlight,” “The Hurt Locker” triumphed over a colorful event movie that was praised for resuscitating the theatrical experience: “Avatar.” And it was boosted by some compelling history: Bigelow’s film was the first best-picture winner directed by a woman. “Moonlight” is the first directed by an African-American filmmaker. Its win, also the first for an LGBT-themed movie, is sure to inspire a generation of filmmakers.

Only one major studio release (Warner Bros.’ “Argo”) has won best picture in the last decade. “La La Land” was distributed by Lionsgate, often called a “mini-major,” and had much the feel of an old studio musical. Its 14 nominations and $370 million-plus in global box office only enhanced its reputation as the juggernaut front-runner — with the requisite backlash to go with it.

But, increasingly, small wins big at the Oscars. For four years straight, the Film Independent Spirit Awards winners — “12 Years a Slave,” “Birdman” and “Spotlight” — have lined up with the Oscars. It could well be that academy voters, working in an industry that increasingly makes little beyond branded blockbusters, are most moved by the personal cinema that has managed to escape Hollywood.

“I hope we are moving in that vein,” said Tarell Alvin McCraney, co-writer of “Moonlight,” which was based on his play. “I hope the storytellers up here and their proud journey here can imprint on someone out there watching, that they, too, can stand here too, and also tell their stories as daringly, as intimately as possible.”

“Moonlight” had won at the Writers Guild Awards and the Globes and (unlike “La La Land”) been nominated for best ensemble by the Screen Actors Guild. But it broke all the rules that help predict Oscar winners. There are factors that may have played a role, like the revamped film academy, which added 683 new members in June to help diversify its ranks. And the best-picture category, unlike the other categories, uses a preferential ballot to select the winner, a ranking method adopted in 2009 when the category increased from five movies to as many as 10. It’s a system that rewards films with broad support, not necessarily the most No. 1 votes.

Jenkins didn’t have any answers himself, sounding amazed and impressed that the industry “voted for a film about a marginalized character from a marginalized community told in a very unorthodox way.”

“I guess anything’s possible,” said Jenkins.

Eddie Redmayne winning raves for role as transgender pioneer in ‘The Danish Girl’

In a pivotal scene early in Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl, the 1920s Copenhagen painter Einar Wegener, as played by Eddie Redmayne, sits in for a portrait his wife Gerda (Alicia Vikander) is painting of a ballerina. Breathlessly caressing the stockings and slippers, something stirs in Einar.

It’s a moment that cues a coming transformation: Einar will gradually become a woman, finally undergoing one of the earliest known sex reassignment surgeries. Einar becomes Lili Elbe, a celebrated trans pioneer.

“I didn’t want it to be an epiphany,” says Redmayne of the scene. “It felt like she had been born, and society and herself had encased herself in this masculine exoskeleton. The important thing for me was the film should see that unraveling.”

Redmayne, the best-actor Oscar winner earlier this year for his Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, has proven to be an immaculately technical actor and an expert of metamorphosis. A year after charting Hawking’s physical degeneration, his conversion from Einar to Lili in The Danish Girl again has the 33-year-old British actor being hailed as a likely Academy Award nominee.

It’s the third film together for Hooper (The King’s Speech) and Redmayne, who had a small part in the director’s Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007) where the queen sentences him to death. “I remember in that moment thinking: I need to find a leading role for Eddie,” Hooper says.

It was while filming 2012’s Les Miserables, in which Redmayne played the tender revolutionary Marius, that the two began plotting The Danish Girl, based on David Ebershoff’s novel of the true-life events. On the film’s Paris barracks, Hooper slipped Redmayne Lucinda Coxon’s script.

“Tom just said: Will you have a read of this?” Redmayne says.

It was the first role Redmayne was offered without an audition. When Redmayne and Hooper convened for an interview at the Toronto International Film Festival, it was also their first time sitting together for an interview. At times, their combined Britishness made for extreme humility.

“The dream to get to play interesting and in both those cases extraordinary people, it does not come along,” says Redmayne of Hawking and Elbe. “And I also have no question: I don’t think it will come along again. I realize that I’ve been very lucky in a couple years to play two formidable people.”

Reviews for The Danish Girl, painterly and stately, have singled out Redmayne’s performance, which caps what the actor calls a “head-spinning” period in his life. He wed Hanna Bagshawe last December, and, two days after winning the Oscar, was back on set making The Danish Girl, still groggy from the partying.

“My instinct was Eddie from the beginning,” Hooper says. “I was truly open to any route. I know in a previous incarnation there had been talk of a woman playing the role, which is also equally valid because you’re saying Lili is a woman underneath.”

Some, though, have questioned casting a man as a transgender woman. Sean Baker’s Tangerine, released earlier this year, by contrast, has drawn raves for its transgender actresses, Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor.

“There’s something in Ed that’s drawn to the feminine, maybe,” says Hooper of Redmayne, who also played Viola in a stage production of Twelfth Night. “In the movie, Lili presents as Einar for two-thirds of it and the transition is quite late, so that also fed into my thinking.”

The Danish Girl is nevertheless an outlier. Earlier this year, the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism studied the 100 top-grossing films of 2014 and found zero transgender characters.

“There is a serious problem not only in our industry but within many industries of trans men and trans women and discrimination in the workplace,” Redmayne says. “In the United States, you can be fired in 32 states for being trans.”

“When I first thought of doing the movie, it was considered a hard film to finance,” Hooper says. “I must admit there were people around me who were happy to tell me I shouldn’t do the film. And now people see it as an obvious film to have done, and I think that’s indicative of a wonderful shift that’s begun to happen in the culture where trans stories have become more acceptable.”

Redmayne did extensive research and met with many generations of transgender people to understand Lili better.

“I was incredibly ignorant at the time. It was several years of meeting people from the trans community and educating myself on Lili,” Redmayne says. “To be comfortable in your own skin is a term that’s thrown around, but it’s actually incredibly complicated.”

As played by Redmayne, Lili’s gradual revelation is a knotty mix of emotions — an increasingly confident awakening where a swelling rapture overpowers apprehension.

“The key balancing act of directing the film was balancing shame and joy, balancing this idea that the transition was both a release into anxiety and a release from anxiety,” Hooper says. “It was terribly important to me that we could always feel through Eddie’s performance of Lili the promise of the happiness that lay in committing to the journey.”

At 82, Joel Grey publicly comes out as gay

Joel Grey has publicly announced at age 82 that he is gay.

The Oscar- and Tony-winning actor tells People magazine, “I don’t like labels, but if you have to put a label on it, I’m a gay man.”

Grey was married to actress Jo Wilder for 24 years and they have two children together: actress Jennifer Grey and son James, a chef. He says, “It took time to embrace that other part of who I always was.”

Grey’s show-stopping performance as the devilish master of ceremonies in “Cabaret” won him an Academy Award and a Tony.

After “Cabaret,” Grey went on to star on Broadway in “George M!,” the title role in “Goodtime Charley,” Amos Hart in the revival of “Chicago,” and the Wonderful Wizard of Oz in “Wicked.”

Playing Stephen Hawking a complex equation for Redmayne

Time is relative, especially for young actors tasked with playing brilliant theoretical physicists.

Eddie Redmayne estimates that the euphoria of being cast as Stephen Hawking for the film “The Theory of Everything” lasted a millisecond. Then came the overwhelming fear.

“And that fear remained the whole way through the process,” Redmayne said in an interview earlier this fall.

The gentle, freckled 32-year-old British actor was asked to not only lead a film for the first time, but to play a mathematical genius across decades of physical degeneration — all under the watchful gaze of said mathematical genius. Ahead of screening “The Theory of Everything,” Hawking ominously told Redmayne: “I’ll tell you want I think, good or otherwise.”

With such pressure, Redmayne could be forgiven for quietly slipping into the nearest black hole.

But in the year’s most technically complex role, Redmayne gives what’s surely the performance of his young career, one that seeks to capture not only the step-by-step disintegration of ALS that led Hawking from healthy youth to paralyzed adulthood, but (and more importantly) the scientist’s unvanquished spirit, the unimpeded expansion of his imagination. 

“He was given a death sentence,” says Redmayne, referring to the diagnosis given Hawking as a 21-year-old, when he was expected to live only a few years more. Now 72, he went on to father three children, marry twice and author significant discoveries in cosmology as in the best-selling “A Brief History of Time.” “So you live every single moment to the full, and that’s what I wanted an audience to leave with. That’s what I left this experience with.”

Director James Marsh (“Man on Wire”) remembers well his first meeting with Redmayne, a London native best known for his Tony-winning turn in John Logan’s “Red” and his tender revolutionary Marius in “Les Miserables.” One pint turned to five, the conversation going into the night.

“He was just full of ideas and passion for this,” says Marsh. “He knew somewhat what this might entail in terms of preparation and physicality. Eddie’s crazily ambitious. He’s not ambitious for money or fame. He’s ambitious to do great work. He’s fearless, too. It was a real leap into the dark for him.”

“The Theory of Everything” is based on Jane Wilde Hawking’s 2007 memoir “Traveling to Infinite: My Life With Stephen.” Aside from a biopic, it’s a portrait of an uncommon marriage. Felicity Jones pays Jane, whom Hawking met at Cambridge University in the early 1960s.

The film begins with their early courtship, which coincided with the discovery of a motor neuron disease in Hawking. Redmayne plays each stage of Hawking’s increasing disability, going from a lame leg to a walking stick, to two sticks, to a wheel chair. Gradually he loses his voice, his body language, his facial expressions.

“It felt like solving a puzzle,” says Redmayne.

Redmayne spent four months researching, working on the physicality and feebly studying Hawking’s physics. He trained with a choreographer, met with academics (Redmayne also went to Cambridge), visited with many ALS sufferers and had an expert study old photos of Hawking to trace the disease’s effects.

“There were moments along the way where I know he felt really, really defeated,” says Marsh.

To guide him, Redmayne posted three photos in his trailer: Albert Einstein, James Dean (since Hawking was, Redmayne says, “a ladies man”), and a joker playing card, to capture Hawking’s playful side. “If you’re in a room with him, he’s definitely running the room,” says Redmayne.

But aside from all the technical challenges, Redmayne imbues Hawking with a sly mischievousness. Much of the performance is in a glint behind his eyes.

“What emanates from him when you meet him is this kind of wit and humor,” says Redmayne. “Even though he can move so few muscles, he has one of the most charismatic, expressive faces you’ve ever seen, which is a weird irony. There were many things I found out from meeting with him, but one of the overall things I took away was finding he does not live a disease. He lives forward and has done since he was 21 years old. There’s an unerring optimism to him. That meant every single scene, even when obstacles are being through, find the funny, find the glint.”

When Hawking saw the film a few weeks before its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, he judged it “broadly true.” But he offered a personal endorsement, giving Marsh his unique computer-generated voice to use in the film.

Redmayne, widely considered a lock for an Oscar nomination, has plans to star in the next film by Tom Hooper (“Les Miserables,” “The King’s Speech”). But he hasn’t worked since filming “The Theory of Everything.” The gravity of the part, for which he lost some 20 lbs., is slowly falling off him. 

He sighs. “I had many glasses of wine after.” 

‘Chicago’ burns with talent

When Kander & Ebb’s Tony Award-winning musical Chicago finally hit the big screen in 2002 after a few failed attempts (including proposed versions rumored to star Liza Minnelli and Goldie Hawn), it was a massive success. The winner of six Oscars, including best picture, Chicago seemed to signal the return of the big-screen movie musical. 

Neither of the lead actresses in the film Chicago — Renée Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones — was known for her musical stage work. But under the direction of Rob Marshall, the duo glittered as murderous jazz-age mamas Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, respectively — and Zeta-Jones took home an Oscar for her work.

Now available in a Blu-ray+DVD+Digital HD/Ultraviolet Diamond Edition, with more than two hours (!) of new content, Chicago is holding up better than the city it’s named for. Bill Condon’s inspired Oscar-nominated screenplay transforms wannabe performer Roxie’s musical numbers into effective flights of fancy. As inmates, Roxie and Velma compete for the spotlight and the sympathies of the public and the press. They sing and dance to their (and our) hearts’ content.

Supporting players John C. Reilly (as Roxie’s “invisible” husband Amos), Queen Latifah (as warden Mama Morton), Christine Baranski (as newspaper columnist Mary Sunshine) and Richard Gere (as unscrupulous lawyer Billy Flynn) all make the most of the Kander & Ebb songs, including “The Cellblock Tango,” “All That Jazz,” “Mr. Cellophane,” “Razzle Dazzle” and “Nowadays.”

Special features include commentary by Marshall and Condon, which offers fascinating insight into the film. You’ll also find the deleted “Class” scene, and much more.

Shirley Jones offers naked truth in new book

Shirley Jones opens the door to her house and appears every inch the ladylike Marian the librarian or sweet farm girl Laurey or cheerfully steady Mrs. Partridge, offering a warm smile and handshake.

Her elegant, modestly high-necked jacket is black, her makeup is discreet and her silver hair tidy. Jones’ living room has the sort of traditional furniture and knickknacks (exception: a prominent Academy Award) that would fit any suburban house.

It all adds up to the publicly familiar Shirley Jones, whose crystalline soprano voice and dewy prettiness made her an immediate star in the 1950s film versions of “Oklahoma!” and “Carousel” and who captured a subsequent generation of fans in TV’s “The Partridge Family” in the 1970s.

Then there’s “Shirley Jones,” her new autobiography – written with Wendy Leigh and published by Simon & Schuster’s Gallery Books imprint – that turns the 79-year-old actress’ image on its head in startling ways.

“So bring out the smelling salts, hang on to your hats, and get ready for the surprise of your lives!” she writes, coyly, in the book’s introduction. It’s not false advertising.

There’s a recounting of her early life and dazzling career that included working with two musical theater masters, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, as well as many of Hollywood’s top actors, including Marlon Brando (king of the retakes to exhaustion, Jones said), Jimmy Stewart (charmingly ditsy) and Richard Widmark (the only co-star she fell in love with).

But a substantial part of the book is spent on her troubled marriage to the late Jack Cassidy, the glossily handsome actor and singer whom she describes in a passage as her first lover and “sexual Svengali,” and whose lessons she shares candidly.

That includes – X-rated spoiler alert – Cassidy’s impressive endowment, Jones’ own “highly sexed” nature that made orgasms a breeze, their threesome with another woman (“yuck,” she says, when asked about the onetime experiment), Cassidy’s pre-marital sexual encounter with Cole Porter that Jones says left her unfazed, and her apparent tolerance for his infidelities.

The character of Marian, the spinsterish librarian in 1962’s “The Music Man,” another smash hit for Jones, “wasn’t me,” she said firmly.

And her autobiography makes that abundantly clear, although she says it took the passing of years for to bring such candor.

“I never would have written this book if I weren’t the age I am now,” she said.

So she’s grown-up enough to tell her story, and her admirers should be grown-up enough to read it?

“That’s exactly how I feel,” replied Jones.

She overturned her squeaky-clean image once before with her Oscar-winning portrayal of a vengeful prostitute in “Elmer Gantry” (1960) opposite Burt Lancaster, and the role that she considers her most important. It also brought backlash from her admirers.

“I got letters up the kazoo: ‘Why would you ever take a part like this?” Jones recalls.

Marty Ingels, the comedian who is her second husband of 35 years and counting, jokes that he is offended by her personal history.

“All that stuff she did with her husband (Cassidy), all those adventures …. I’m looking into the grounds of having my marriage annulled,” he said.

That draws a boisterous guffaw from Jones, whose loyalty to her outspoken, eccentric spouse has provoked speculation about how she could have jumped to Ingels from Cassidy, deeply troubled but unquestionably urbane.

Ingels lives up to his image by joining the conversation attired in a purple bathrobe and an oversized top hat with “HUSBAND” printed on it, and cracking jokes about being kept in an attic. Jones has a simple answer for doubters: Ingels makes her laugh every day and keeps life from being boring.

Her sexuality remains unabated, said the naturally youthful-looking Jones (healthy eating, daily exercise and no plastic surgery, she said). She is eager to quash the idea that age kills passion or friskiness.

“Luckily, Marty thinks I’ve still got a beautiful body, even though it is old, and every now and again I take all of my clothes off in front of him and shake my (breasts) at him, and he loves it,” Jones writes in her autobiography, using racy slang for “breasts.”

As she sees it, her own steady temperament made her crave an exciting, surprising partner, and both Cassidy and Ingels fit the description.

She met Cassidy as a 21-year-old small-town girl, a virgin, and “he taught me a lot about everything. Absolutely everything,” Jones said. “I learned about life with Jack, about parties with Jack, drinking with Jack, design with Jack. He was bright, well-read, smart.”

He was also repeatedly unfaithful to her, envious of her success and an inadequate father who late in life was diagnosed as bipolar, Jones said.

“Many people may say, ‘She was crazy. She did anything he wanted and it wasn’t good for her, wasn’t good for the kids, wasn’t good for the people around her,’” she said. “I’m going to get a lot of that … but it was my life and it was the way I wanted to live it.”

Her autobiography begins innocently enough, with Jones born in Charleroi, Pa., and moving as a toddler to Smithton, Pa., where her father helped run the family-owned brewery, the Jones Brewing Co.

She describes herself as a rebellious tomboy, “wild, willful and independent,” who became obsessed with movies and their stars but intended to turn her love of animals into a career as a veterinarian. Talent intervened.

In 1953, on a post-high school graduation trip to New York with her parents, a friend introduced her to an agent who, immediately impressed, told her to attend an open audition with John Fearnley, the casting director for the songwriting team of Rodgers and Hammerstein.

After “going for broke” and singing “The Best Things in Life Are Free,” a voice from the theater called out to Jones on stage, “Where are you from? And what have you done before?”

“Smithton, and nothing,” Jones recalls as her flustered reply.

She received a part in the chorus for Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific” and then, a year later, the starring role in the duo’s “Oklahoma!” – as well as the title of “Hollywood’s new Cinderella,” as Jones recounts in her book.

With the end of the big-screen musical era, Jones fought for recognition as a serious actress to win the role in “Elmer Gantry” and other dramatic fare. “The Partridge Family,” about a widow and her musical family and co-starring David Cassidy, allowed her to work in Los Angeles and be home at night with her young children.

She didn’t see Hollywood as exciting, Jones insisted. It was work, which she left behind each day when she returned to her roles as wife and mother.

“I liked my job, but when I came home, I never thought of it,” said Jones, who still takes on occasional theater, movie and TV roles.

Of the many photos scattered around her house, all but one – a group shot showing the triumphant Jones and Lancaster on Oscar night – are of children and grandchildren.

Jones had a chance to reflect on her life anew while recording the audio version of “Shirley Jones.”

“What came to me is, ‘I did this, and obviously I loved it when I was doing it,” she said. “I had a great time. I have no regrets whatsoever.”

‘Cabaret’ celebrates 41st birthday with a party

Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome – to middle age.

The landmark film “Cabaret” – starring Liza Minnelli, Joel Grey and Michael York – has turned 41, but that’s not going to stop a party: All three actors will be attending an anniversary celebration screening planned Thursday at the Ziegfeld Theatre, where the movie premiered in 1972.

“I can’t wait to see them all again,” says Minnelli, 66, who won an Academy Award playing Sally Bowles, the fishnet-and-bowler hat wearing chanteuse. “Everybody who worked on it was just wonderful.”

The Bob Fosse-directed film, adapted and reworked from the Broadway musical, has also been painstakingly remastered – a facelift of sorts – by Warner Home Video and will be available on Blu-ray and DVD on Feb. 5.

“Cabaret,” which won eight Academy Awards – in a year that also featured competition from a little film called “The Godfather” – hasn’t seemed to gather mold over time, remaining a crucial cultural touchstone.

Grey, who won an Oscar as the menacing, white-faced master of ceremony, recalls attending a screening of the new blockbuster “Les Miserables” and immediately being asked questions.

“Some of the people involved in the production were very, very anxious to get my response because of ‘Cabaret,’” said Grey, 80. “It turned out to be the thing that you compare everything after that.”

The film opened Feb. 13, 1972, to strong reviews, with Roger Ebert calling it an “unforgettable cry of despair” and Variety saying it was “literate, bawdy, sophisticated, sensual, cynical, heart-warming, and disturbingly thought-provoking.”

The American Film Institute placed it fifth on its list of greatest movie musicals, and “Cabaret” was deemed significant enough to be earmarked for preservation by the Library of Congress.  

“Cabaret,” both the Broadway show and film, are based on the 1951 Broadway play “I Am a Camera,” which, in turn, was based on Christopher Isherwood’s book “Goodbye to Berlin.”

Set in 1931 Berlin, “Cabaret” centers on the world of the indulgent Kit Kat Klub as it becomes intertwined with the world outside, which gets more precarious on the brink of World War II.

John Kander and Fred Ebb, who wrote the songs for the Broadway show, removed some for the film and added others, including “Mein Herr,” “Maybe This Time” and “Money, Money.” The soundtrack retains the classic “Willkommen” and “Tomorrow Belongs to Me.”

“Cabaret” hasn’t been shown in a decade because one of the film reels had a vertical scratch. Restorers recently went frame by frame through the entire film – all 1.4 million of them.

The work was so time-consuming that the 40th anniversary last year was missed. But fans will now get a high-def print six times as clear and sharp as the previous DVD release, as well as plenty of goodies, including new photos and a new documentary, “Cabaret: The Musical That Changed Musicals.” 

Fosse got the job directing the film because Hal Prince, the stage director, was too busy. Fosse, raised in the theater, was a risk since his only other film, “Sweet Charity,” had bombed.

“He still managed to be phenomenal and make a groundbreaking, historic movie musical by rethinking it and changing musical movies forever,” said Grey, who reprised the role he played onstage. “It was oddly much darker on-screen than it was onstage.”

Dark is an understatement. Musical movies on the whole were saccharine in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and Fosse’s film was a stab of something more realistic – all but one song was sung in the confines of the cabaret itself – and also more frightening.

The film dealt with Nazism, anti-Semitism and homosexuality. In one song, a German folk dance is juxtaposed with another scene of someone being beaten by Nazis. The movie also reinserted the often-omitted final line in “If You Could See Her,” a love song between the MC and a woman in a gorilla suit: “If you could see her through my eyes/She wouldn’t look Jewish at all!”

Filming took place in Munich in the spring with Minnelli as Sally, a role she had lost out on for Broadway because the part had been written originally for an Englishwoman. Minnelli created the look – bowl-cut hair and huge eyelashes that would become iconic.

York, Minnelli and Grey recall a tough working environment. The perfectionist Fosse, who died in 1987, made the actors do take after take after take. They recall enormous amounts of smoke and harsh lighting – but also the lifelong bonds that were created.

“It looks great and it was worth it,” said York, 70. “For me, it was one of the most enjoyable film shoots I ever experienced. I’m not just saying that because it’s the appropriate thing to say. But it really was.”

The three will be reunited at the Ziegfeld Theatre, where they sat 41 years ago and were stunned to hear people applauding after every song.

“I can only hope that happens again,” said Grey.

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Anne Hathaway shears her hair, and shares the story of her best year ever

Newly married Anne Hathaway, 30, looks stunning in a black turtleneck sweater and white flared trousers. Her cropped hair, which was shorn for her role in the film version of “Les Misérables,” suits her. She’s doing interviews to promote the film, which critics say is likely to earn her another Oscar nomination,

Hathaway is glowing. She married Adam Shulman in September, after recovering from a disastrous affair with the Italian businessman Rafaelo Folieri. He was convicted of wire fraud and served time in jail.

Now, she says, Hathaway is having the best year of her life.

You look stunning with short hair.

Thank you. It is what it is for the time being. When it was first cut, as it was growing in, there was a moment where it was about an inch long around and it was this kind of sweet Mia Farrow thing that I really liked. Then it was kind of awkward for a few months, and this is the first cut that I’ve had since then that I am happy with, but honestly, I don’t think about it that much, it’s just kind of my hair at the moment.

Were the Friday nights at Russell Crowe’s hotel sing-a-longs real? Everyone keeps talking about them.

Oh, yeah, they were so real, and it wasn’t a hotel but a cottage he had on the hotel grounds, so it was just kind of homey and very cozy. He would have us over, he would make everyone else steaks and then make fun of me for being a vegan (laughs). But he did make me a very nice carrot salad, so I had that going for me. And then after dinner we would all move into kind of another room and someone would start playing the piano and we would usually all start with singing “Hallelujah,” the Leonard Cohen song. Everybody would take a verse and it would kind of just relax everyone and get everyone singing. It was a way of getting some of the people who were maybe a little shy out of their shells.

People say that you are every girl’s BFF.

Nice, that’s cool, I love everybody (laughs)! So I am glad to hear that.

Is it difficult to maintain those relationships?

I have the most wonderful, wonderful friendships, especially with my girlfriends, my group of friends from high school. We are all still friends and we get together every few months and have dinner together, and we are all still very up to date with each other’s lives. And my group of friends from college, which includes men and women.

How many bridesmaids did you have?

Seven. I have a lot of friends (laughs). Some of my friendships date back to like the day I was born, and most of my bridesmaids I’ve been best friends with for 12 years. We’ve all grown up alongside each other and helped each other grow and rooted for each other and held out faith for each other when we stumbled. I know they have for me.

Does it feel different being married?

It does, in a way that I didn’t realize that I was aching for.

This is a huge year for you and you will most likely earn another Oscar nomination.

Thank you for saying that, I hope that that comes true. We will find out in a few weeks if I am even in the running for it. And I can say with absolute assurance that 2012 has been the best and greatest year of my life.

What kind of mother do you think you’ll be one day?

Well, a cool one (laughs) – a stylish one, all that stuff. I just want to be one that they love, I just want to be their guide towards being good people. And I’ve wanted to be a mom since I was 16.

Do you think it would be hard to say no? Being a good mom also means you have to say no.

Oh yeah, definitely, yes, of course, I was told no many times in my life, it’s a very healthy thing.

You are often compared to Audrey Hepburn.

I know. I think everyone is on glue (laughs).

What about the latest comparison to Liza Minnelli?

I’m compared to Liza Minnelli? Well, she is certainly a bucket full of talent. Wow, that’s very flattering. Thank you. She’s also just the nicest lady, she’s so sweet.

This movie is about passionate love. Do you believe in love at first sight?

I think that I believe in soul mates, I believe in soul recognition, but love at first sight, I think that it doesn’t always pan out and I’m not sure that I believe in the one at first sight. … I do believe that our souls recognize each other on a deeper level than we are conscious of.

How did you celebrate your 30th birthday?

I threw a costume party. I am on the board of the Public Theater, so I asked them to let me use Joe’s Pub and I screened the movie “Auntie Mame” with Rosalind Russell and so we all dressed up as characters from the show and I got drunk and danced with my friends (laughs).

How do you usually celebrate New Year’s?

It’s different. I don’t have a typical way of celebrating it, it’s just wherever my life is at. A few years ago I was at a wedding, sometimes I am with friends, this year I am going to be with friends.

Can you talk about the first time you saw “Les Mis”?

The first time I saw “Les Mis,” I was seven years old and my mother was in it playing the factory girl, and different members of the ensemble. I remember that pretty well, but the first time I really remember connecting with “Les Mis” was when I got to see my mother perform the role of Fantine.

How much did you want this role?

A whole lot. I wanted to be involved in the film because my mother played the part, I always kind of thought that this is her role and untouchable, so I was very familiar with all the other parts. I actually never considered singing “I Dreamed a Dream,” but when I found out that that was the only role that I was up for I just thought, “OK great, then I want to play Fantine” (laughs).

Was it easy going from Catwoman to Fantine?

I found them to be more related than I initially thought they would be. They are both warriors; they are both incredibly strong and all of the physical training that I had to do to play Selena Kyle translated into this and it made me much stronger mentally. It made me much more disciplined and a much harder worker. I needed all of that to play Fantine.

You had a musical sequence with Hugh Jackman three years ago at the Academy Awards. Was that a seed for this project or was it unrelated?

I mean I think it can’t help but be related now. I mean, it’s just that it put it out there into the universe that Hugh and I wanted to do something musical together. We’ve been looking for something since then and of course the project that arose had nothing to do with either of us, it just sort of happened and we happened to get the parts together and I am thrilled. I want to do more, that’s the thing about Hugh Jackman, just you get a taste and you just want more and more and more.

You have come a long way from “The Devil Wears Prada” to here and your roles are getting more serious. What have you learned?

Yeah (laughs), I don’t know where to begin. What have I learned? My only regret from “The Devil Wears Prada” was, I felt so insecure being in the company of the actors I was in, that I didn’t let myself enjoy the experience. I learned from that experience that you need to fight through that feeling, you need to take stock of where you are at and even if you don’t know that you’ve deserved it or earned it, enjoy it.

What was your area of study in college?

When I was at school, I focused on English literature and romantic poetry.

Was your husband on the set with you when you shot this film?

My husband and I, we had worked it out that I was going to do the first part by myself because he has a job, he has a life, he can’t just drop everything to be with me every second, so we planned it that he could only spend a certain amount of time with me throughout the entire shoot. So in the beginning, we were going to be apart and then he was going to come and stay with me when I had to do the weight loss, because I would be so depleted. It was about three days into the weight loss that I realized I was going to have to ask him if he didn’t mind me being by myself because he was making me so happy (laughs). And I was having way too much fun (laughs), and I said, “I really need to be a bit more miserable actually,” and he went home and I crawled inside the misery of the character just fine without him.

How does it feel to call him your husband instead of boyfriend?

I’m so super into it. I say the word way too much, I like saying it. It feels wonderful and natural and still like very delicious.