Jan. 5: Sean Penn, left, receives a kiss from 'Milk' co-star Josh Brolin at the 2008 New York Film Critic's Circle Awards.
Josh Brolin is one of my favorite actors because he speaks his mind. Last night at the New York Film Critics Awards dinner, at which Brolin won Best Supporting Actor for his work in the drama, “Milk,” Brolin stole the show with his candor.
For one thing, he called Russell Crowe, his co-star in last year’s “American Gangster,” an “a-hole.” Oh yes, he did. He said, after Sean Penn introduced him, “Quite an actor, Sean Penn. And not an a-hole like Russell Crowe.” He then repeated: “Like Russell Crowe.”
He didn’t have any nice words for New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley who reviewed him in a performance of Sam Shepard’s “True West.”
“I hate that motherf——-,” Brolin says, “And I don’t think he’s a good writer.”
Brolin also gave some insight into how movie stars do interviews.
“I said I studied rats,” he told the rapt audience of actors and movie critics at Strata, formerly Metronome, on lower Broadway. “I said that on the Actors Studio about how I prepared for ‘W.’ It was a lie.”
Brolin told me later that he didn’t really mean Russell Crowe was an a-hole. “He’s a great guy,” he said. “It’s all good. He has his thing.”
Brolin is so good as Dan White, the San Francisco city supervisor who gunned down fellow supervisor Harvey Milk, that it doesn’t matter. He’ll be up for an Academy Award when the nominations are announced later this month. But he won’t be at the Golden Globes this coming Sunday in Los Angeles. The Hollywood Foreign Press didn’t much like “Milk.” Brolin wasn’t nominated for this outstanding work, but Tom Cruise and Robert Downey, Jr were for the jokey “Tropic Thunder.” Go figure.
There were plenty of other revelations in last night’s acceptance speeches; it was the kind of boozy, fun intimate night where stars let down their hair. Penelope Cruz for example admitted that she’d spent the whole afternoon talking to cab drivers and other likely suspects trying to find a “New Jersey accent.” The reason? Director Paul Haggis, who presented Cruz with Best Supporting Actress for her tour de force turn in Woody Allen’s “Vicki Cristina Barcelona,” had told her earlier in the day that he was going to say her Spanish accent was a fake, and that she was really from New Jersey.
Said the delicious Penelope, with perfect comic timing: “I couldn’t find anyone who knew what a New Jersey accent was!”
Cruz also said that Allen, a noted hypochondriac, left the set of the movie on the day she and Scarlett Johannson were supposed to film their famous kissing scene. “He went to the dermatologist because he saw a spot on his hand,” Cruz said. When he finally returned, Cruz asked him if the doctor thought it was anything serious. “Unfortunately, no,” Allen replied.
The best table award for the evening went to the family of “Rachel Getting Married” screenwriter Jenny Lumet, which included her father, famed director Sidney Lumet, her mother, Gail Buckley, who’s the daughter of Lena Horne, as well as each of her parents’ spouses and her own husband. Papa Lumet’s introduction of Jenny was punctuated by the daughter talking him through it from the audience — which was funny and endearing. Afterward, Gail Buckley told me the 91-year-old Horne, one of the few remaining real Hollywood stars, was “pretty well, considering her age.”
The balance of presenters and winners included Marcia Gay Harden toasting “Frozen River” director Courtney Hunt for Best First Film; Sigourney Weaver giving Best Animated Film to “Wall E” director Andrew Stanton; “Nightline” host Martin Bashir — with a broken wrist — bestowing Best Cinematography on “Slumdog Millionaire” director of photography Anthony Dod Mantle; “Angela’s Ashes” author Frank McCourt saluting Best Actress Sally Hawkins (still recovering from a broken collar bone) from “Happy Go Lucky,” and Salman Rushdie doing the same for that film’s director, the marvelous Mike Leigh.
Did anyone top Brolin, though? Not really, although beloved comedian Robert Klein, presenting Best Non-Fiction Film to “Man on Wire,” scored a black humor home run — especially for lifelong New Yorkers — when he made a kind of twisted joke that went something like this: “I never liked those twin towers, but 9-11 was too much.” Ouch! The movie is about Philip Petit, who walked a tightrope at the World Trade Center years ago. Anyway, the rest of Klein’s shpiel — about how he’s recently played a lot of movie dads to hot actresses — was more appreciated.
I told you that Jamie Foxx contributed $50,000 to the Obama inauguration. Now I’m told he’s rented a house in Washington, DC for the period of January 16-21 for between $15,000 and $20,000. Don’t be too surprised if Foxx turns up at a couple of parties singing and playing the piano. His new CD, “Intuition,” is in its third week in the top 10 …
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