The Hollywood Reporter has released their latest 2014 Oscar season roundtable, this time a sit down with six of this year's high profile, Oscar-contending actresses including Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave), Amy Adams (American Hustle), Oprah Winfrey (Lee Daniels' The Butler), Octavia Spencer (Fruitvale Station), Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks) and Julia Roberts (August: Osage County).
The conversation begins asking the group about the best advice they've received in terms of acting, Winfrey tells a story from her time on the set of Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple and the advice she got from co-star Adolph Caesar and Adams tells a story from another Spielberg film, Catch Me if You Can. The mood is lightened when they're asked about any roles they won't play and Thompson lightens the mood but also offers some good advice for a lot of serious actresses looking to avoid stereotypical roles for women:
"Well, apart from the muff shot and things like that -- but let's not go there (laughter) -- there was a patch of time when I was in my 30s and just started [being offered] a whole string of roles that basically involved saying to a man, 'Please don't go and do that brave thing. Don't! No, no, no, no, no!' That's a trope, the stock woman who says, 'Don't do the brave thing.' I said no to all of them. I'm so proud."
This inevitably leads to the conversation regarding women in film and the roles being written for women and Thompson, again, boils it down to the simplest terms saying, "What the ding-dong heck is going on if this is still something we're talking about?"
Honestly, one of the more interesting things about the interview session on a whole is seeing Winfrey among this group of actors and trying to figure out if I think she has earned a place at the table. I also couldn't help but notice the absence of Jennifer Lawrence -- who is earning early raves for her work in American Hustle -- and wondering how she would be perceived and how she would fit in?
Personally I think Winfrey has proven herself to some degree, but the fact she isn't an actress in the same sense as the others makes me wish someone else would have taken her spot, as for Lawrence, I'm sure her commitment to The Hunger Games: Catching Fire immediately nixed her from taking part, but I would really be interested to see the dynamic between her and the others at the table. Both she and Nyong'o represent the next generation, both with different paths, and it would have created an even more interesting dynamic within the group in my opinion.