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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Oscar Nominated Actors Give Behind-the-Scenes Glimpse at Their Movies
Aired February 15, 2004 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SIR. BEN KINGSLEY, ACTOR: This is our home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please.
KINGSLEY: Our home!
MARCIA GAY HARDEN, ACTRESS: Where have you been!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have too many memories, Jim.
RUSSELL CROWE, ACTOR: Find out within yourself and you will earn their respect.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, the Oscar countdown is on. The top contenders are here, Sir Ben Kingsley and Shohreh Aghdashloo from "House of Sand and Fog." How does the man who won an Oscar as Ghandi feel about playing men of violence.
And then direct from Middle Earth, Sir Ian McKellan and Sean Astin taking us inside the "Lord of the Rings" phenomenon.
Plus Marcia Gay Harden, one of 3 nominated cast members from "Mystic River."
Also another Best Supporting Actress nominee, Patricia Clarkson of "Pieces of April."
And Peter Weir, the director whose "Master and Commander" in up for 10 Oscars, no wonder that movie stars Paul Betany. They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Special show tonight, Oscar nominees, all of them deserving. Great pleasure to have them with us.
Here in Los Angeles, another visit from Sir Ben Kingsley, nominee for Best Actor for "House of Sand and Fog." He won, of course, for "Gandhi," was nominated twice before for supporting actor in "Sexy Beast" and "Bugsy."
And Shohreh Aghdashloo -- I got that right -- Oscar nominee as Best Supporting Actress, also for "House of Sand and Fog."
How did -- Shohreh, did you help select her, Sir Ben? SIR BEN KINGSLEY, NOMINATED FOR BEST ACTOR: No. She was a complete surprise, as was Jonathan, who plays my son. And I have to say that the -- the embrace, the courtesy, the support, the love from Shohreh and Jonathan, I think, helped the audience to believe that we were a family.
It's very interesting that, actually, Jonathan's parents in the film have both gotten nominated. And I mentioned -- I mentioned it to Johnny, "Do you realize this is such a tribute to your Mom and Dad? Your real life Mom and Dad," who are wonderful people.
KING: You play an Iranian.
KINGSLEY: I do. I do.
KING: How did you get the part?
SHOREH AGHDASHLOO, NOMINATED FOR BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: I was approached by our lovely casting director, Ms. Deborah Aquila.
KING: Are you an Iranian actress?
AGHDASHLOO: Yes, I am.
KING: And how did he know about you?
KING: How did she know about you?
AGHDASHLOO: That's right. Deborah went through the Iranian entertainment industry and those Iranians have businesses in Beverly Hills and Westwood.
In this case, Iranians actually got my agent, and I will always be grateful to them.
KING: Did you like the part right away?
AGHDASHLOO: Well, I loved the part when I first read it, almost a year and a half prior to the audition. And I read the book in 2000, and I loved the story. I was in awe of this manuscript when it came out.
KING: Surprise you about the nomination?
AGHDASHLOO: Well, not for Ben Kingsley, but I was surprised.
KING: Why did you take it, Ben?
KINGSLEY: Because he was a warrior, and because he was a warrior who loved his king, the Shah. Because everything was taken very prominently. It was like watching a statue topple. It's an image we're aware of, but the fall of the man, from Iranian colonel, Persian warrior, to -- to someone desperately fighting for a tiny patch of earth in Northern California. That journey, the scale of it, I found really, really compelling. Beautiful.
KING: Difficult to play?
KINGSLEY: Very difficult to play. But again, supported by Persians, Iranians around me, who were -- who were loving and articulate in their guidance and in anecdotes and stories. By osmosis. I was surrounded by so much positive energy from them, something sort of came up at their end.
KING: Was yours difficult?
AGHDASHLOO: Pretty challenging role. Though, Nadi and I are both Iranians, both immigrants, but obviously we took different paths.
But on the other hand, I had witnessed so many voiceless women that I wanted to play the roles, I wanted to portray them. Challenging, but the best experience of my career.
KING: Where did you learn English so well?
AGHDASHLOO: Thank you very much for the compliment. Back in England, while I was studying international relations.
KING: You -- you're working overtime, aren't you?
KINGSLEY: I start my next film tomorrow, yes.
KING: What are you doing?
KINGSLEY: I'm doing "Mrs. Harris" with Annette Bening, the June Harris...
KING: The story of Jean Harris?
KING: You're playing Tarnower?
KING: You get killed?
KINGSLEY: I do get killed, again. I die in almost every film I do these days.
KING: You -- you overcame something that was tremendous, playing Gandhi normally would type you, wouldn't it? I mean, he has to play world leaders or something. You win an Academy Award and you walk away with it, and then you come on to be even more successful.
KINGSLEY: Maybe it's because of being in theater, as Shohreh knows very well. The discipline of theater, the choices it offers you, how grounding it is to be in theater. And it gives you -- it's a great start to any young actor. KING: Were you in theater in Iran?
AGHDASHLOO: Yes. I started with theater.
KING: Always wanted to be an actress?
AGHDASHLOO: Always wanted to be an actress, since I was 8.
KING: Were your parents in theater?
AGHDASHLOO: No, I'm afraid they weren't. And they were disappointed at the idea.
KING: They were?
AGHDASHLOO: Yes. They were absolutely shocked...
KING: Because women aren't supposed to do things like that?
AGHDASHLOO: That's right. Yes.
KING: How did you overcome it?
AGHDASHLOO: Well, I decided to get married first and then go. And I did. And at the age of 19, I got engaged, married an attorney. I used to go to honeymoon, because I wanted to go to the drama workshop. And my first husband was more than kind enough to let me go to the drama workshop.
KINGSLEY: I'd let you go. I wouldn't hold you.
KING: What was it like for this young actress coming to the United States to make a film, to work with so distinguished a gentleman as Sir Ben Kingsley?
AGHDASHLOO: Well, as a matter of fact, I had always dreamt of it, since the first time I saw Sir Ben on the stage with Sir John Gielgud in a play back in England, National Theater.
KING: Why, you had groupies then?
AGHDASHLOO: I had tears in my eyes, and my friend told me that, "The play is not sad. Why do you have tears in your eyes?"
And I told her that if one day I could get to work with this brilliant actor, then I could truly call myself an actress. Twenty- three years later, I was there.
KINGSLEY: It was my good fortune.
KING: Was it everything you thought it would be?
AGHDASHLOO: Absolutely. Absolutely. Sir Ben is -- I don't have to say this, you all now that he's the actor's actor. And he's a very humble and...
KING: Sometimes I've had actors or actresses tell me when they work with someone more famous than them, they tend to be in awe of them. And it might restrict them a little at first. Was it hard for you?
AGHDASHLOO: No, not at all. Because...
KING: Because he made it easy?
AGHDASHLOO: ... or makes you feel like that, no.
KINGSLEY: We had a very real, very good working relationship. And the characters, Mrs. Behrani and Colonel Behrani, are two -- two sides of the same coin. They're so independent, the characters, on each other. How each reacts to the other is the story of that relationship.
And we rolled our sleeves up and got down to it from day one, from the first rehearsal.
KING: I wish you both the best.
KINGSLEY: Thank you.
KING: It's always great to see you.
AGHDASHLOO: Thank you.
KING: Welcome to our country and to our world of film.
AGHDASHLOO: Thank you very much.
KING: Sir Ben Kingsley and Shohreh Aghdashloo. I want to get it right twice. They're both nominated for "House of Sand and Fog."
Back with more after this.
KINGSLEY: I'm sorry, miss, but I've nothing more to say to anyone. Why should I be penalized for their incompetance, tell me that?
You should sue them for enough money to buy 10 homes. I will even sell you this house for the right price, that is all I require.
I do not know where he left his hammers. I've nothing more to say.
JENNIFER CONNELLY, ACTRESS: If this goes to court, it could take...
AGHDASHLOO: They ought (ph) to deport us?
CONNELLY: I don't know.
AGHDASHLOO: You must see. They will kill us. They will shoot my children.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's so quiet.
IAN MCKELLAN: It's the deep breath before the plunge.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want to be in a battle, but waiting on the edge of one I can't escape is even worse. Is there any hope, Gandalf, for Frodo and Sam?
MCKELLAN: There never was much hope, just a fool's hope.
KING: He's one of our favorite people. He won the 2002 Best Supporting Actor for "The Fellowship of the Ring." He is in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. He's Gandalf, of course. He was a 1999 Best Actor nominee for "Gods and Monsters."
"Lord of the Rings" is the most acclaimed movie of the year. A number of nominations. It won for its director the DGA award over the weekend.
Sir Ian McKellen.
How, Ian, did you get this part? How did you become Gandalf?
MCKELLEN: Well, I suppose because Sean Connery didn't want to be. I don't know. I -- you never quite know who's up for the parts, first. But...
KING: You don't think you were first?
MCKELLEN: Well, Peter Jackson, the director says now that I was. So perhaps I was. But...
KING: Did you like it right away?
MCKELLEN: I didn't know the books. And I -- I mean, 100 million people have read "The Lord of the Rings," and I wasn't one of them. So I just judged it by the script, which of course, is the best way to do it. And...
KING: Liked it right away?
MCKELLEN: I liked it right away. I thought it was a challenge. A year in New Zealand I wasn't too certain about. The best thing I ever did was to go to New Zealand...
MCKELLEN: Because it's the most wonderful country.
MCKELLEN: The landscape is a sensation, you know? There was an awful lot of it had never been touched. Thirty-six million people there. You figure you'd get to know them all. You really feel you're part of the community.
And then, Peter Jackson's making this huge home movie.
KING: Yes. Well, what about acting where you're doing three movies at once? How does that work?
MCKELLEN: Well, it felt like one big movie, which in a sense it is. And -- and quite soon people will be able to spend the whole day watching "Lord of the Rings."
KING: And you get the DVD of it, and you watch.
MCKELLEN: Absolutely. So at most, a continuing story.
Mind you, on the very first day, I did my very first shot as Gandalf the Gray arriving in Hobbiton with the blue hat on and the long beard. And then two days later, I was doing the very last scene of the third movie as Gandalf the White faced the four hobbits, who I'd scarcely met saying, "We've come to the end of a very long journey."
MCKELLEN: We hadn't started the journey.
KING: Isn't that -- in theater, you begin at the beginning and go to the end.
KING: Isn't that one of the hard parts about film acting, last scene first?
MCKELLEN: Yes. But don't forget, when you're rehearsing the play, you're dodging about from beginning to end. And so actors are quite used to it, working at where they are. As long as you know that, you're all right.
KING: Why do you think these films are so successful?
MCKELLEN: Perhaps it's because they're about good people. There are a few villains, I know, but it's not about the villain. It's about the good guys, about the ordinary guy, the little hobbit, the ordinary people who make it through.
And I think people respond to that. And of course, it's an active journey.
People call it fantasy. It's not fantasy. It's myth. It's about what life is really about. A myth can be applied to all sorts of situations and right through the generations, honestly. Tolkien goes on being popular. People relate it to their own lives. They relate it to current politics.
I don't know. I mean, there's never been anything like it to look at. KING: No.
MCKELLEN: There's never been such a spectacle on the screen.
KING: I think that's what people -- people will say they never -- when you see it, you've never seen anything like it. Nothing to compare it to.
MCKELLEN: You can't. You've been to Middle Earth. That was what Jackson -- he wanted to take you to the place that never existed but was as real as the country that you live in yourself. And that's what he's achieved.
KING: How good an actor's director is he?
MCKELLEN: Oh, he's very alert to the story. I mean, he bangs that into you. And he doesn't let anything go by, and -- you normally, if you're doing a scene, would have about eight shots, eight tries at it. With Peter, often more than 20. Until he absolutely saw what he wanted.
And so you can rely on him totally. That was the best thing. And such a good nature. I never saw him begin to lose his temper...
MCKELLEN: ...not in 18 months. Not once.
KING: Directing an epic like usually...
MCKELLEN: I never heard...
KING: ...you would think there had to days when...
MCKELLEN: That's something about the New Zealanders was that they absorb into themselves difficulties. And -- and do it. Don't forget it was a New Zealander that climbed Everest for the first time.
And Peter Jackson's just done that. He's just climbed the cinematic Everest.
KING: So you're very proud, and you'd work with him again?
MCKELLEN: Please, yes. I keep -- I keep e-mailing him and saying, "When are you going to start?" I think the whole fellowship should be in the -- the King Kong story.
KING: You're always working, aren't you?
MCKELLEN: Well, I'm about to start the year that I'm not working. And -- And...
KING: By choice?
MCKELLEN: Sixty-five is the year that most people retire, so I said I'd take a few months off. I like not working. I like being at home. I like seeing friends. I like getting to see other people work.
KING: Did coming out affect your career?
MCKELLEN: Totally for the better. Yes.
KING: For the better?
MCKELLEN: I didn't have a film career until people knew I was gay. And then they stopped worrying about it.
KING: But we all knew about you. And so...
MCKELLEN: "Are you gay?" I don't know.
KING: And you say you didn't have a film career.
MCKELLEN: It's supposed to be death for anyone to come out, not just as an actor.
MCKELLEN: A politician or a priest or whatever.
KING: You're one of the first.
MCKELLEN: Was I? No, no, no. Well, I think I was one of the group, and a sign that the times were a-changing. And of course, nobody gives a damn, really. And nor should they. We're just ordinary people.
KING: You did one of the great unheralded films, "And the Band Played On." What a movie. And he died. I loved him.
MCKELLEN: Yes he did. But yes, a wonderful cast. And -- and everyone committed to doing it, yes. It was an important story to tell, because a lot of people didn't know about AIDS. And -- or its origins or -- and they needed to understand that there was nothing to be frightened of, it was a problem to be coped with.
KING: It's always great seeing you.
MCKELLEN: Pleasure seeing you.
KING: Sir Ian McKellen. He's Gandalf in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. When the DVD comes, get all three and spend the weekend at home watching.
We'll be right back.
DAVID WENHEM, ACTOR: Battalions of orcs are crossing the river.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's as Lord Denethor predicted. Long has he forseen this doom.
MCKELLAN: Foreseen and done nothing! Faramir. This is not the first halfing to have crossed your path? WENHEM: No.
UNIDENTIIFED MALE: You've seen Frodo and Sam?
MCKELLAN: Where? When?
WENHEM: In Ithilian (ph), not 2 days ago. Gandalf, they're taking the road to the Mogul Vale (ph).
MCKELLAN: Then the Pass of Kilith Umgor (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does that mean? What's wrong?
MCKELLAN: Faramir, tell me everything.
ELIJAH WOOD, ACTOR: Sam, leave him alone!
SEAN ASTIN, ACTOR: I heard it from his own mouth, he means to murder us!
ANDY SERKIS, ACTOR: Never! Smeagol wouldn't hurt a fly! Ah! He's a hobbit, fat hobbit, who hates Smeagol! And he makes up nasty lies.
ASTIN: You miserable little maggot. I'll stone your head in!
ASTIN: Call me a liar! You're a liar!
WOOD: Sam, we're lost.
ASTIN: I don't care! I can't do it, Mr. Frodo, I won't wait around for him to kill us.
WOOD: I'm not sending him away.
ASTIN: You don't see it do you? He's a villain.
KING: We thank Sean Astin for joining us tonight. He plays a hobbit, Samwise Gamgee, in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Even though -- no actor in this film is nominated, right?
ASTIN: That's right.
KING: You've got 11 nominations without an acting...
ASTIN: It would have been -- It would have been awkward for an actor to get nominated, because how do you pick one from a group of an ensemble? You know? We are nominated for the ensemble category for the Screen Actors Guild, which I'm -- I'm holding a candle out for. Because I think that will be a great tribute to all of us. KING: How did you get this part, Sean?
ASTIN: I -- well, Peter Jackson, the filmmaker, had worked with my father. He'd hired my father, John Astin, to work in "The Frighteners."
KING: I love John.
ASTIN: Thank you. Thank you. He loves you, too.
Samwise Gamgee. Samwise Gamgee.
KING: What did I say?
ASTIN: I don't know, but I...
KING: I thought I said Samwise Gamgee.
ASTIN: Well, maybe you did. You did.
So anyway, I just -- I was told by my agent, very traditionally, that Peter Jackson was doing the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy for New Line. I was -- in very Hollywood fashion, I was on my cell phone in the car on Burbank Boulevard near Sepulveda, and I spun my car around and went right to Barnes and Noble and walked in and looked at -- I'd never heard of the books.
In fact, I thought when she said, "Honey, they're the sequels to 'The Hobbit.'" I was, like, "I know what that is." And I think I thought it was "The Phantom Tollbooth."
I sort of -- I didn't know what the books were. So I walked into the bookstore and got them and went home and read 180 pages and -- and, you know, my agent said, "You have to have flawless British accent by Thursday." Nicky Maris (ph) is her name, over at William Morris.
So between she and Victoria Borrows, the casting director, I -- I owe them...
KING: Sir Ian McKellen also had never read it.
ASTIN: That's what he said. That's what he said. But...
KING: Did you enjoy playing it?
ASTIN: My -- my experience of the character over the years that I sort of communed with him was -- was total. I mean, I -- it was this -- yes, I loved it. It was the most extraordinary feeling to be connected with some of the ideas, some of the poetry of the language, some of the -- just the idea of faithfulness and -- and loyalty and bravery and getting to sort of own those and know he's a meat character, but he's also an emblem for great strength, despite his diminutive size.
I mean, those ideas were -- were great. I was uncomfortable a lot of the time, because I was so fat. I put on 40 pounds to play Samwise. And it's hard to be too heavy.
KING: It is. Laboring.
ASTIN: Yes. Yes. And sitting around all the time in the Hobbit feet. And -- but I read. I read a lot. I read books and books and books. And it was -- it was a family. I mean, the actors have talked about it so much now, but -- I worry that people are sick of it. But we really did live and work together in a way that was like a traveling circus or something.
KING: How about three movies in one?
ASTIN: Well, you know, it was really one -- it was really one movie.
KING: One big movie?
ASTIN: Yes, I mean, I -- Ian has talked so eloquently about how, you know, if you're an actor, as long as you know where you are, then you're all right. And so I must not have been all right, because there were a lot of times that I didn't -- I didn't know where I was. I didn't -- I just -- and I kept wondering, how are they going to -- and I'd read the scripts, but somehow with seven or eight units filming simultaneously, and miniatures units and you would be doing, concurrently, scenes from all three pictures.
You know, you'd sort of rehearse one scene and shoot the other scene. And you'd get in a van and go to another part of town, or jump in a helicopter and -- and so it was sort of a Zen exercise. You try and be in the moment, you know, the way the great acting teachers have always...
KING: What was Jackson like to work with?
ASTIN: He is an exquisite and extraordinary human being and carries himself with -- with grace and dignity. And he loves have fun and play video games and -- and so you sort of, you think you're getting to know a guy who's really just a kid. And then he'll -- he'll talk about life or the idea of the movies in a way that's so substantive and important.
And you sort of -- so you, he makes you want to -- what's the best way to say this, there's an expectation that we're there because we want to do important work. And so when that's the kind of ambient feeling, you don't have to talk about it. You don't have to think, "Now it's time to be important." But you just know when it's -- when you have to do your bit, you want to be as good as you can possibly be.
KING: This is not a trivial day?
ASTIN: No. No.
KING: Nothing trivial about it?
ASTIN: No. Every day is a day where -- you know, I said to him one time, because it just looked overwhelming. And you'd think, how -- how is this man going to endure? He really carried the weight of the franchise, of the movies, every day.
And I just said to him once, I said, "I bet you're looking forward to when it's finished and you can get a good night's sleep."
And he just sort of said, "I'll get a good night's sleep tonight."
And I thought -- so he approached it as a journeyman, you know?
KING: Now you, you were an Oscar nominee in 1995 for Best Live Action Short Film for "Kangaroo Court"?
KING: What are you going to do next?
ASTIN: Well, there's a picture coming out this -- on Valentine's Day with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore called "50 First Dates."
KING: You're in that?
ASTIN: I am. I am. I play just a ridiculous character. It was really fun to do that.
KING: This is playing the night after Valentine's, so it opened this weekend.
ASTIN: Exactly. That's right. That's right.
KING: This is going to be a big movie, right?
ASTIN: I think "50 First Dates" will be a big hit. I mean, Adam and Drew...
KING: You have a good part?
ASTIN: I have a great part. I have a great part. I'm Drew's brother. I play Doug, who is -- he speaks in a lisp and he lifts weights all the time. And he's always doing pushups and talking about things.
It's just a silly -- it's a silly character, but it was really fun to be able to pretend to have some sort of awareness of what sketch comedy is around Adam Sandler.
KING: Is your father the reason you're an actor?
ASTIN: I think my mother and my father are the reason I'm an actor. And my brother, MacKenzie. We -- yes.
I mean, I really wanted to be a filmmaker my whole life, from the time I was 7 years old and borrowed his Super 8 camera. And acting was something that my mother literally sort of handed me on a silver platter when I as 8 years old. She just invited me to be in this ABC after-school special with her.
And so I've always had this -- the ability to work, and without having to -- I'm grateful for that. But I always felt like I was trying to get an education or I was trying to develop my mind politically. Or, you know, so...
KING: Very talented, as well. Luck plays a part, but talent is -- talent will out.
ASTIN: Thank you very much.
KING: Thank you, Sean.
ASTIN: It's a privilege to be on your show.
KING: My privilege.
Sean Astin, who plays hobbit Samwise Gamgee...
ASTIN: You've got it.
KING: ... in "The Lord of the Rings."
And as we go to break, Annie Lennox sings the Oscar nominated song from "Return of the King." Take a look at this clip from a recent appearance on "The Tonight Show."
ANNIE LENNOX, SINGER: (SINGING)
TIM ROBBINS, ACTOR: What did you think about?
HARDEN: Well, you know.
ROBBINS: No, actually I don't know.
HARDEN: Things. You know. The day. About Katie being dead, before Ed and Beth and Jimmy, you know. Those things.
ROBBINS: Those things.
KING: It's Oscar show, our yearly presentation on LARRY KING LIVE. Good to -- welcome back to this program. It's always good to see you.
Marcia Gay Harden, nominated for the 2004 Best Supporting Actress for "Mystic River," which I will say to you right now is the best film I saw this year, maybe the best film I've seen in 10 years.
She won the Best Supporting Actress in 2001 for a brilliant performance in "Pollock," and she is with children right now, twins.
HARDEN: Yes, I am. Yes.
KING: What -- How did you and "Mystic River" come together? What a movie.
HARDEN: I'd worked with Clint once on "Space Cowboys." And I read the script by Brian Helgeland for "Mystic River." And it was so incredibly moving and so very scary and tragic.
And I called him up. We had a place in the Catskills, and I was upstate with the nieces and nephews. And I called him up, and I said, "Is it rude to call the director and tell him you want to be part of it?"
And they were like, "Call him."
So I called him and said, "Hi, Clint. This is -- If you think I could be a part of this film, I'd love to be a part of it."
And he said, "Well, we're working on it Marcia Gay." So a week later, he calls up there in the Catskills, and my niece answers the phone from Texas, and he said, "It's Clint. Is Marcia there?"
She's like, "Wow!" So she hands me the phone and he offered me the role. And at that time already, Sean and Tim and Laura and everybody were set -- and you just had the feeling of a project that would have such incredible resonance. And it did. And it's so tragic.
KING: It's a film on many layers.
KING: It's a hell of a mystery. Right?
HARDEN: Yes. Yes.
KING: And the three kids, and the growing up. And it's based on some true incident.
HARDEN: That's true. And also, it's a film, like you say, so many layers about how authority isn't who they seem to be, the priests aren't -- the people who care take for you or the police. And nor the community.
And I loved my character's moral issue, which after the film, people would come up to me in the street and say, "Aren't you the girl in 'Mystic River'?"
I'd say, "Yes."
"What were you thinking?"
And they think...
KING: You turned him in.
HARDEN: I turned him in. But did she? And you think, well, if you -- if someone in your family committed an absolutely heinous crime, or you thought they did, but you didn't know, what would you do?
Would you protect them? Would you turn them in?
HARDEN: A dilemma.
KING: You bring to the screen the -- what does Eastwood do -- he directs so -- he tells a story so damn well. You just stay with it, he tells you a story. He tells it, and he brings it in on budget.
What does he do with actors?
HARDEN: It's fascinating, because he doesn't, the director, he's not the kind of guy to say, "Think green" or "Pretend you're an ice cream cone," in this scene? He's not one of those.
But what he does is he -- he guides you. And he says, for instance, you know, it's notorious. He doesn't say "Action," and he doesn't say "Cut." So he's like, "Go ahead."
And he doesn't invade the space where you are. And then he guides you, and he allows you to -- to bring what you have to bring in one take or less. Or to really -- you get one take. You get two takes. A really emotional scene, you get three takes. But he keeps it alive, and he trusts you and guides you. And becomes a wonderful, an atmosphere to be in.
KING: The performances he got from you, from Sean, Tim Robbins, the whole -- the whole cast.
HARDEN: Laura Linney and Kevin Bacon and...
KING: Kevin Bacon, underrated actor.
HARDEN: Right, right, right.
KING: Is he? I mean, the whole -- the whole film. When you saw the finished product, what did you think?
HARDEN: You know, I was so incredibly pleased, because you never know what it's going to be. And I thought the editor, Joel Cox, and Clint Eastwood -- and he was also -- Clint also did the score. And I think it's...
KING: Writes music.
HARDEN: ... a very important thing, because the score -- he writes music. And the score, you think so many times that it's a suspense thriller, the moment the titles are rolling and either the Valkyries are descending from the heavens. It's like, the titles roll and you have five minutes to get into the film.
Or suddenly it's like, "Bam, bam, ba-da, bam!" And it, like, really distances you from that. And he created this threesome, this triangle. He calls it a triad of music, because of the three characters, the three boys. And it felt like it just invited you in and has allowed the film a kind of resonance and character resonance.
Because it's a tragedy, ultimately.
KING: That's true.
HARDEN: A family tragedy.
KING: You think it's a dilemma for the voter, whatever this is, it's down to it and "The Lord of the Rings." Of course, they're really not -- how do you compare them?
HARDEN: I don't know.
KING: How do you?
HARDEN: How do you compare art? How do you do it? It's so incredibly difficult. And I'm sure by this point, when there's the five up there, it gets political. And it gets many things that...
KING: George C. Scott never participated. He thought it was just -- you get -- How do you judge "Lord of the Rings" versus "Mystic River"?
HARDEN: I know. I love the participation, but I love being out. But you just have to know we're all winners on March 1, even though we may not be carrying home a statue on February 29.
And you just have to really believe in that. Because "Lord of the Rings" is wonderful, but what a different kind of film than "Mystic River." And it's just community, family tragedy. And the other one is just this fantastical world.
KING: Have you got a part for after the birth?
HARDEN: I mean -- you mean, overall? Yes. It's called "Breastfeeding Two."
KING: Are these your first children?
HARDEN: No. I have a 5-year-old daughter. And I'm just going to take some time down and -- and be with the family and see how this family is growing, and you know, making sure we're wonderful
And then include the family in the next work.
KING: How do you feel about having twins? You're going to have twins.
HARDEN: It's going to be a little bit nerve wracking. But I'm also really fortunate and grateful. It's a boy and a girl, and I feel like now the -- the hard part is over and for the next however many years, it's the rehearsal of the good part. I just bring the family up, and it's going to be wonderful.
KING: What are you going to wear? You know yet?
KING: A draping.
HARDEN: Something with draping in it, and some neckline. I figured, you know, when you're pregnant, you've got a few assets and cleavage is one of them. You wanted them to -- you have that.
KING: I will predict that you've got a hell of a shot.
HARDEN: Thank you. I hope.
KING: Marcia Gay Harden. If you haven't seen "Mystic River," do yourself a favor. You will see brilliant filmmaking.
Nominated for the 2004 Best Supporting Actress for that film. You will love her and you will love it.
And we will be right back.
ROBBINS: You think I killed Katie? For what?
Is that the kind of sense we're making these days?
HARDEN: Where'd you come up with that?
ROBBINS: You barely looked at me since you found out Katie was dead. In fact you seem repulsed by me.
HARDEN: I...don't...think..anything. I'm confused, OK. Even your friend, Sean, asked about you.
ROBBINS: He's not my friend, in case you haven't figured that out yet.
HARDEN: He asked me about you! What time you came home!
ROBBINS: What did you tell him?
HARDEN: I said he was asleep.
ROBBINS: That's good thinking, baby.
PATRICIA CLARKSON, ACTRESS: Why am I so hard, for instance, on your Beth, when for years you've been the daughter of my dreams? You have -- you know you have. Apart from your weight problems, we're practically the same person, so why am I so hard on you? Forget the fact that you're making the same the same mistakes I made, and I wish you'd make your own, but I think I'm hard on you, because we've had so many good times and I think it's likely as this gets worse, Timmy, I'll be hard on you too, because we've have so many good times.
So, then, why am I so hard on April, when we didn't have any good times?
KING: We remember her in her screen debut. She was Eliot Ness' wife in "The Untouchables." She's Patricia Clarkson, nominated for Best Supporting Actress for "Pieces of April."
She won the 2002 Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for appearances on "Six Feet Under." She's also going to be currently seen as Herb Brooks' wife in the terrific new movie "Miracle," now playing, about the incredible United States hockey team that won the Olympic gold medal in 1980.
"Piece of April" you play a woman dying.
PATRICIA CLARKSON, NOMINATED FOR BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Dying. Yes.
KING: How do you find that?
CLARKSON: It's -- it's difficult, and I don't, you know, it's hard to actually...
KING: Because you're in good health, right?
CLARKSON: Yes. Yes, knock wood. Is any of this wood?
But yes, but I think you -- you know, it's a very personal journey you have to undergo, one that you, you know, you -- it's hard to articulate. And -- but I certainly have suffered. I've been sick. I've been -- I've suffered loss. I've suffered, you know, depths of despair in my life.
KING: So you use that?
CLARKSON: Absolutely. And I've, unfortunately, witnessed, you know, death in friends and family. So you have to, you know, pull from all of that.
KING: Were you -- I mean, this was a film that we called a small film, right?
CLARKSON: No. Right, very small. I mean, tiny.
KING: As was "Station Agent." Remember that?
CLARKSON: As was "Station Agent," yes. I mean...
KING: "Miracle" is your big -- "Untouchables" was your big film.
CLARKSON: And "Miracle" -- no, those are big, big pictures.
CLARKSON: No, no, no, no. The buzz around both "Pieces of April" and "Station Agent" combined was, like, one day of shooting on a big film.
KING: Were you surprised at the nomination?
CLARKSON: Of course. Yes, definitely. I was beyond thrilled, and you know, still kind of pinching myself.
KING: How did the part come to you?
CLARKSON: Peter Hedges, who wrote and directed it, I've known him for years through New York theater. And he -- I got a call one day that, you know, my agent called and said, "Peter Hedges wants to offer you this part."
And I read it, and I was -- Because even though it's a woman, you know, dying, I mean, she faces it with such wit. And you know, her ferocious wit. And I just -- I fell in love with it.
KING: Quite -- you'd, like, sink your teeth into it?
CLARKSON: Definitely. I didn't even really get to the very end of the movie before I called and said, "I have to do this."
KING: Was "Miracle" a tough?
CLARKSON: No. Not...
KING: It was a tough part.
CLARKSON: Well, yes. But Patty took...
KING: She has the...
CLARKSON: Yes, she's...
KING: She's still living, right?
CLARKSON: Patty Brooks is amazing. I've met her. I've spoken to her before I shot the film, and she -- she really inspired me. She's a very witty, very funny -- she's a character. She's a wonderful woman, and she really kind of gave me great inspiration.
KING: Is it harder when you're playing someone you've met?
CLARKSON: Well, I hadn't met her, thank -- but I'd spoken to her. No, it ended up helping me. Because sometimes that really is a little odd for me. I don't like to know too much, because I like it to just kind of come from where I'm coming from.
KING: What is all this now, this nomination and hopeful you win, but nominated -- what does it mean for the career? What do the agents say when they talk to you?
CLARKSON: I don't know. Let's get them on the phone.
KING: A lot of scripts?
CLARKSON: I -- I -- yes, I have some scripts coming in, you know. And -- but I'll always, you know, be doing independent films. And see...
KING: You like it?
CLARKSON: I love independent films. But I hope to do big films, too.
KING: You mean, you're not going to turn down a super film?
CLARKSON: No, no, no, no. It's nice to be paid, and -- but yes, I've had some more scripts come in. And -- but my life hasn't dramatically changed.
KING: Ever turned down anything you regretted?
CLARKSON: Probably. I can't think of it right now, though. I'm sure I have. I'm sure.
KING: How did you find out you were nominated?
CLARKSON: I was -- I did fall -- I did manage to sleep. I was awakened at 5:47 on Tuesday morning.
KING: L.A., then?
CLARKSON: I was -- yes, the Golden Globes. I was still here. And I was asleep in my hotel room, and the phone rang. I was awakened me.
KING: Who told you?
CLARKSON: My publicist was the first to get through. And then the phones kind of, you know, exploded. And everything was...
KING: When did you first react -- you knew they were going to announce the next day, right?
KING: Did you think, "I'm on the list?"
CLARKSON: No. I think...
KING: You got great reviews, though.
CLARKSON: Yes. You know, the film, people have responded beautifully to the film. So I kept my fingers crossed. But -- but no, I -- I, you know. It was -- I just didn't know, you know? I really -- I slept well. I did.
I was obviously exhausted from the Golden Globes. I remember crashing, and I -- I did manage to sleep.
KING: Do you know what you're going to wear?
CLARKSON: No. I mean, I have some ideas.
KING: It's such a big deal, isn't it?
CLARKSON: Yes, it is. But you know, Larry, it is fun, you know? It's dress up, and there's just beautiful clothes. I mean, the dress I have on is -- And they give you beautiful things to wear. And I'm very -- I'm honored in a way.
KING: I'm excited for you. I think you're off to a great career.
CLARKSON: Thank you so much.
KING: Thank you, Patricia.
CLARKSON: Thank you.
KING: Patricia Clarkson of "Pieces of April," nominated for Best Supporting Actress for an Oscar this year. And you can see her on screen now in "Miracle."
We'll be right back.
CLARKSON: You still have everything you want here at Minnesota.
KURT RUSSELL, ACTOR: Don't tell me what I'll have, Patty, you don't know this enough to tell me that.
CLARKSON: You know, I understand you being upset with me when I say you work to hard teaching a simple game, but don't ever critize me for...
PETER BETTANY, ACTOR: Oh, I see. I see, so after all this time in your service, I was simply to content myself to fall apart at this beligerant expedition. Hurry past the inestimable one, to spend solely on destruction. I shall say nothing of the corruption of power, or...
CROWE: You forget yourself, doctor.
BETTANY: No, Jack, no. You've forgotten yourself. You see, from my part, I look upon a promise...
CROWE: A promise...
BETTANY: It would occur to me, if I commanded a king's ship...
CROWE: We do not have time for your damned hobbies, sir! KING: It's our award preview show tonight on LARRY KING LIVE. Joining us now in Los Angels, Peter Weir, one of the greats in the business. Peter is an Oscar nominee. We're showing you Paul, but this is Peter, Oscar nominee for best director for "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World."
His three previous Oscar nominations for best director included "The Truman Show," one of the greats, "Dead Poets Society" and "Witness." He -- also nominated for original screenplay, "Green Card."
And in Toronto is Paul Bettany. He was nominated for the British Academy of Film and Television Awards, the BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor for "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World."
He's married to another previous guest on this show, the actress Jennifer Connolley, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for "A Beautiful Mind."
Peter, how did you and "Master and Commander" come together?
PETER WEIR, NOMINATED FOR BEST DIRECTOR: Through the wonderful series of books by the late Patrick O'Brien, which I'm delighted to say I read for pleasure. I wasn't looking for a movie.
And -- and lo and behold...
KING: Did they come to you, or...?
WEIR: They did, yes. Fox (ph) and the writer at that point. And there I was, you know, at a meeting in order to try and -- anything for me. And Tom Rothman, who became later co-chair of the studio, said, "I'm not going to pitch you a story. I'm going to give you a gift," which was a novel approach, anyway.
Reached down below, and came up with a sword, and gave it to me. And I said, "Master and Commander"?
And he said, "Yes, I want you to take command." It was quite theatrical but charming.
KING: Paul, how did you get that terrific role?
PAUL BETTANY, NOMINATED FOR BAFTA AWARD, BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Very traditional, in the time-honored fashion. I -- I sort of entered the audition for Peter, and -- and he kept saying, "Go away."
KING: Did he? Did he really turn you away?
WEIR: To see if he was made of the right stuff.
BETTANY: Exactly. No, he got me back to read and then go on tape and then to humiliate myself miming Charlot. But then finally he sort of buckled under the enormous pressure. I just kept turning up.
WEIR: Don't you love this? The humor is what...
KING: Was Russell Crowe automatic from the start? Did you get him right away?
WEIR: Yes. I mean, it's a terrible thing when you're writing a script to think there is one person who's your ideal, a great actor, director, who...
KING: Yes, but what if you don't get him?
WEIR: I know. But I couldn't get him out of my mind. And -- nobody seemed quite right. Sometimes when I'm having trouble finding someone for a part who's right for it, I'll cast from the dead, as it were. If I could have anybody from the grave...
KING: What the heck?
WEIR: And it was Richard Burton popped into my mind. And then I thought, he's kind of like Russell. You know, so it goes back to Russell.
KING: Was it, Paul, a tough shoot? It sure looks that way from watching it.
BETTANY: Yes, it was tough being paid a lot of money to dress up in other people's clothes and -- It was actually a real privilege. And too much nonsense is spoken about the arduous nature of filmmaking. It's a real privilege. And -- it was fantastic.
I mean, there were times and days that were long and stressful. And you know, people's tempers get ragged, but mostly it's -- If you put enough days together of working with really talented, fun, interesting people, you know, if you put enough of those together, it's a hell of a life. Not a...
KING: So -- Are water scenes more difficult? Just by the nature of them?
WEIR: Yes, but you know, there were a lot of difficulties. I had decided not to go to sea. That was the most important decision. And we filmed mostly in a tank, a storm in a teacup, I used to say.
And we only went to sea for 10 days on our second unit vehicle.
KING: You would never believe that.
WEIR: No, no. And you know, there I salute the CGI and the, you know, the sound men (ph) and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that did the work for me, to create the illusion we're at sea.
But I could get a full day's work done, and it was better for everybody, including the actors, not dealing with sea foam.
KING: But when you do that, were you surprised by some of the things you eventually saw? You're directing them, and now you've got them at high sea? WEIR: No. I've seen backstage at all times. I thought that might happen -- and yes, I'd walk in one morning and they'd knock me out.
WEIR: But it was hard work. You start with a little drawing or wire frame.
KING: That's wild.
What about you, Paul? Were you surprised by what you saw and the finished product?
BETTANY: Entirely. Entirely. It was much bigger than I -- you know, it was -- immediately, it was the biggest sort of film set I'd ever been on. And an enormous sound pit to play in.
But when I saw it all put together, I couldn't quite believe they'd done it. I wanted a lie and say that we actually have been around the Horn.
KING: How did you like working with Russell?
BETTANY: I really like working with Russell. I mean, we work well together, you know? And he -- he doesn't make too many decisions before the scene has started. And -- which leaves you somewhere to go.
And Peter is a truly organic director. Now, I smile, because I've had actors, including myself, bandy this word "organic" around. I never quite knew what it meant. But he actually -- he actually is. You know, you start somewhere and you build it together.
BETTANY: It's wonderful.
KING: ... Russell easy to direct?
WEIR: Yes, I think it is rather...
KING: He knows his mind.
WEIR: Yes. First of all, it's casting. If you've got any actor, however good or famous, miscast, you know, it's the Cinderella sister syndrome, then there will be trouble. Or if your script isn't fully thought through.
But in this case it was rightly cast. He was meant to play this part. And the script was in good shape and was well planned. So it was harmonious. Difficult, as Paul says, but it was bracing, to use a nautical term.
KING: Were you surprised at the nomination? WEIR: I was. I was delighted. Such a range of them. I can't have assumed what I first heard on the telephone in Sydney, where I live, ten nominations. And I thought it would include Russell and Paul. So it...
KING: Were you disappointed?
WEIR: No. It's just, as with a couple of the other films, it was a vote for the movie itself, in a way. So I take it with the reflected glory that comes...
KING: And Paul at least got the British nomination.
KING: Paul, I thank you very much. Give our best to Jennifer.
BETTANY: Will do.
KING: Thank you. Good luck.
BETTANY: And same thing.
KING: Thank you. And Peter, this has been an honor. I've admired you, "The Truman Show," one of the great movies ever made. Prophetic, right?
KING: They said, that could never be, reality TV?
WEIR: Look around you.
KING: Peter Weir and Paul Bettany of the brilliant film "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World."
I'll be right back.
BETTANY: How about this? Or are you in the mood for something more aggressive?
KING: I hope you've enjoyed our Academy Award show tonight. And speaking of the Academy Awards, see if you can pick the most movie winners. Play cnn.com's "Inside the Envelope Game" for a chance to win a thome theatre system. Go to cnn.com/insidetheenvelope.
Now more news on your most trusted name in news, CNN. Goodnight.
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