For five of the nominees announced earlier this month for acting Oscars, it was the first time they'd heard their names called out. Veterans and newcomers alike were honored -- Antonio Banderas ("Pain and Glory"), Cynthia Erivo ("Harriet"), Scarlett Johansson ("Marriage Story" and "Jojo Rabbit"), Jonathan Pryce ("The Two Popes") and Florence Pugh ("Little Women"). Four of these first-timers shared with The Envelope how it feels for them.
Antonio Banderas, Salvador Mallo in "Pain and Glory"
Q: You've worked with director Pedro Almodovar eight times over 40 years. What was different about "Pain and Glory"?
A: What are the odds that you have to work with a director who is actually the character you are playing? The information you are getting from the director -- especially everything that has to do with emotional information -- that is something you cannot write in the script, but you can see in his eyes.
It was a very pleasant shooting, which is not normal. Almodovar is a very tough director, very meticulous and demanding. But in this particular case, I don't know if it was because of the subject (loosely based on the director's life) or because I was coming still from a heart attack (which he suffered in 2017) that provided me with a strange way to look at life I didn't have before -- less anxiousness to show things, more receptive to the things that are surrounding you.
Q: Who was the first person you wanted to tell?
A: I was with the mayor here, talking about the future of Malaga (Spain) and a second theater I want to build, it's attached to a school. We have 600 students there studying singing and dancing and acting. I had my phone closed and suddenly I looked at the phone and I saw Pedro Almodovar's movie was nominated and I thought my category had gone first, so I thought that was it. And suddenly the phone is going 'ping, pong, ping, pong, ping ping ping ping ping ping' -- it was crazy, I couldn't believe it. In 20 minutes, there were 100 paparazzi out there. As much as I am not very keen to paparazzi, I loved them that day.
Q: Whom do you have to thank?
A: My girlfriend, who saved my life when I had the heart attack. The night before, she had a headache and we didn't have anything in the house. She went to the supermarket and got some aspirin. As she was leaving, the girl told her she had dropped something; it was the aspirin. The next morning, when I came out of my gym in the house, I said to her, 'I think I'm having a heart attack.' She took an aspirin and put it under my tongue. That thing saved my life. So if the girl, the cashier, hadn't said anything; if she hadn't had a headache that night ... sometimes the packages in which life serves you happiness are very small, and they come to you in an unexpected way.
Cynthia Erivo, Harriet Tubman in "Harriet"