Oscar nominations can significantly raise an actor’s profile. But, what if you have already starred in Burn After Reading with Brad Pitt and George Clooney and There’s Something about Mary opposite Ben Stiller and Cameron Diaz — the highest grossing comedy of all time?
From the moment Richard Jenkins’ phone rang with the news of his nomination for Best Actor alongside Brad Pitt, Frank Langella, Sean Penn and Mickey Rourke, his entire life became forever altered. Now Richard Jenkins will be known on film titles with the moniker ‘Oscar nominee’ before his name.
Jenkins the jester
“Like always, there isn’t anything going through my head,” Jenkins jokes about the Oscar frenzy. As becomes quickly clear, the actor has an impeccable sense of humor. “Honestly, it has been crazy. It has been good crazy. I didn’t know how amazing and crazy it would be, but one of the great things is I hear from people I haven’t heard from in a long time (laughs). It’s great to get back in touch with people.”
Jenkins stars in The Visitor and the film is certainly garnering much more attention with his Oscar nomination and the film’s arrival on DVD. Writer-director Tom McCarthy has captured an unforgettable ensemble at their professional best.
“That’s the great thing that it (the Oscar nomination) keeps the film out there. A lot of people that wouldn’t have seen it will rent it and watch it. A lot of people are saying because of the award they have watched it,” Jenkins says.
Jenkins famously plays the drums in the film and we wondered how difficult it was to realistically capture that talent. “I played drums when I was young I stunk. So I quit. I got up to speed for the film, but those guys were amazing. It was incredible.”
He could never imagine standing talking to a reporter as an Oscar nominee. “I think, for any actor, you sit home and think ‘that looks like a lot of fun.’ We shall see,” Jenkins says.
The Visitor Oscar visits
The Visitor star is asked if there is anyone Oscar night he is thrilled to finally meet. “I’ve met and worked with a lot of the people that are nominated,” he says and laughs. “I’ve been at a lot of functions and I’ve met most of them. But, I’m not sure who’s going to be here.”
As an actor, his nature is more reserved, so extravaganzas such as the Oscar red carpet can be his profession’s biggest challenge. “It’s hard to do for me, but everybody’s been great. It’s an experience I wouldn’t have missed. I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to do this film and go through all of this,” Jenkins says.
Can even your publicist or fellow nominees pass on any words of advice for dealing with the Oscar whirlwind? “My publicist says ‘Do it better.’ It’s not what I do. I don’t feel comfortable doing it. I know it goes with the territory. I’m not great at it, but my publicist keeps saying, ‘you did great!’ Yeah, as the sweat is pouring down my head,” he says.
“Francis (McDormand) called, emailed. I just saw Joe and Ethan (Coen) at the Director’s guild awards the other night. They said, ‘how are you holding up?’ I said something that made them laugh. They’ve been through it too. I don’t think anybody can prepare you. Nobody told me anything. I don’t how you would explain to someone about what you go through.”
Oscar night is family night
Jenkins is looking forward mostly to exposing his family to the bright light of Hollywood’s biggest night. “My wife,” he says of who he is bringing first and foremost. “My son is coming with us and my sister-in-law who is just freaking out. It’ll be fun for me because my son is really excited about coming. He’s an accountant for Price Waterhouse. How do you think I got the nomination,” he jokes. “Whoops!”
Next for Richard Jenkins is a trip into the world of the mastermind behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Dollhouse and Firefly.
“I’m doing Joss Whedon’s new movie called The Cabin in the Woods. Don’t think this had anything to do with it,” he says pointing to the giant Oscar statues. “I wish I could say something more interesting, but like I said before, there’s nothing going through my head.”
Promised that Jenkins had the best sense of humor! Don’t miss the Oscars February 22 at 8 p.m. on ABC.