Return to Transcripts main page


Academy Award Nominees Are on This Special Oscar Edition

Aired February 14, 2009 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, the Academy Award nominees are here. Will Kate Winslet win it?


KATE WINSLET, ACTRESS: It's incredible to get an Oscar nomination, period.


KING: Will Penelope Cruz go home with an Oscar? Marissa Tomei, who wants a second statuette. And so does Hollywood's own Ron Howard. Josh Brolin is here.


JOSH BROLIN, ACTOR: That's a huge compliment, coming from you.


KING: And the cast of "Slumdog Millionaire" hopes to hit the Oscar jackpot.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just trying to grab each moment and really just enjoy it and embrace it.


KING: Are they in the best film of the year? The envelope, please! Right now on this special Oscar edition of "LARRY KING LIVE."

Good evening and welcome to our Oscar extravaganza. We've got an hour of movie stars and moviemakers, all nominated for Academy Awards. It's been another great year for films. We know that some of you watching this still have your ballots in hand, waiting to cast your votes for who should win one of the most coveted awards in the world. So grab the popcorn, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.


WINSLET: I'm just a girl who would choose a certain number of women.

In the evening, she asked them to join her. She was making these women read aloud to her.


KING: It's our special Academy Award preview show. And a great pleasure to welcome the brilliantly talented Kate Winslet nominated for best actress in "The Reader." "The Reader" is nominated for five Oscars, including best picture.

You've been nominated six times. Does it get to where now you say, what's going to happen?

WINSLET: No, it doesn't. It's an incredible thing to get an Oscar nomination, period, and to have been there now going for my sixth time. It's really, really exciting. I mean, it's...

KING: Win or lose?

WINSLET: Win or lose. Really, truly, win or lose. I mean, these are very special rare moments to happen in any actor's life. These are certainly moments that I never expected to happen to me. And so it's very, very exciting.

And I also feel that this particular year in film has been remarkable. It has just been remarkable. And so to be included in this particular year feels very, very, very special.

KING: What's it like to hit it twice? I mean, two, Golden Globes, two films. One your husband directs.

WINSLET: That's right. That's right. I mean, it's -- what can I say? I've had a really lucky 18 months in my life that I got to play both of these wonderful characters. You know, that I got to do that in my lifetime, let alone in the space of almost a year. It's been -- it's been pretty spectacular.

KING: The Weinstein brothers put you in best supporting actress because they thought "Revolutionary Road" would be the one that would get you best actor. They guessed wrong.

WINSLET: Well, you know, at a certain point I guess the universe just steps in and takes over. I don't know about how these things work politically. I really try and stay away from all of that.

KING: How, Kate, do you -- how do you throw away your accent? Where does it go?

WINSLET: Hopefully, in the garbage can, you know. I mean, you know, when you have to do an accent in order to play a role, you do everything you can to eradicate your own voice. And you just do whatever you can find within yourself in order to disappear so fully into that character.

And with "The Reader," you know, I'm playing a German woman. It's not an accent I've ever done before. I was extremely nervous about doing it. And I'm a real stickler, too. I'll watch movies. And if I know an actor is not the nationality that they're playing, I almost doubly listen out for that. I just hope to God that doesn't ever happen to me.

KING: When you're home after shooting do you talk in the German accent or back to your own?

WINSLET: I do a little bit of both. My children, they're very used to hearing bedtime stories in a whole plethora of German dialects. The German one drove them particularly insane. Bedtime stories in a German accent, that was not good for them.

KING: The academy nomination is for "The Reader." We'll show you a scene from that, no other way to describe that -- no other way to describe it -- incredible movie. Watch.


WINSLET: It's beautiful.

DAVID CROSS, ACTOR: How can you tell? How do you know when you've no idea what it means?

WINSLET: What are you studying in German?

CROSS: I'm studying a play. You can read it.

WINSLET: I'd rather listen to you.


KING: OK, the obvious question. Doing those nude scenes, and there are many. Maybe it would be better to call them sex scenes. They were incredible. Was that hard with all those people standing around?

WINSLET: You know, it's not particularly something that I would say one enjoys. But it's also something that is a part of my job, you know.

I think I'm lucky in the sense that I have done a lot of scenes of that nature in my career, throughout my career. And so I know what to expect. And my priority, quite honestly, was making sure that David Cross, who plays the young Michael Berg, felt comfortable. I needed for him to understand what was going to happen because the anticipation of a scene like that, when you've never done something like that as a younger actor, is far worse than the reality. Me sitting down with him and saying, listen, there's going to be maybe three other people in the room, don't worry, I'll look after you. Even that was music to his ears. I just wanted him to concentrate on the content of the scenes because that is obviously more important than any nudity.

KING: How old was he when you shot this?

WINSLET: He's 18.

KING: He was 18 then?

WINSLET: He's 18, yes.

KING: Was it hard for him?

WINSLET: He was very nervous. He's been extremely honest about that himself. He was very, very nervous. I didn't want his nerves to get the better of him because as an actor, of course, that can sometimes be the death of your performance when you're afraid.

It can also sometimes be useful, but in a situation like that, it would have been particularly difficult for him if he hadn't been able to find a comfort zone and -- I promised him, we'll end up laughing about this. He turned to me and said, oh, my God, you were right, you were right, thank goodness...

KING: What was it like to be directed by your husband?

WINSLET: It was absolutely terrific.

KING: Really?

WINSLET: I have to say, yeah. Going into it, I was nervous. I think like any married couple should be, frankly, if they're going to work together. But I was also tremendously excited. I've respected my husband's work for a long time, even before I knew him, and had long been wanting to have the experience of working with him, being directed by him. And there were a couple of moments when I would said to him, why are you standing right by a camera when you're shooting a close-up of me? He said because I always like to do that when any actor does a close-up. I said, you can't be there. You have to go into another room right now. It's just too weird. It would make me feel very sort of watched and judged. But on the whole, we really had a good time. Yeah, we really did.

KING: Was it OK to do -- there weren't a lot of love scenes in the "Revolutionary Road." Mostly it was people hitting, arguing with each other, vicious arguments.


KING: Was it hard to do a love scene in front of your husband?

WINSLET: Not really. I was the one that was very tense about it. I realized that I -- all the anxiety was on me and nobody else particularly shared it. Leo was fine with it. He's a consummate professional. Sam said, what are you worrying about, Babe, you've done this thousands of times before. I said, yes, darling, but not with you in the room. It was harder, I think, for Sam to watch Leo and I do some of the tougher scenes when we really are fighting with each other.

KING: What is he...

WINSLET: Leo is...

KING: Really terrific. WINSLET: He's just one of the best men in the world. He really is. Not only is he a consummate professional and incredibly prepared for everything that he does, but he's a genuinely lovely person. And having known him for as long as I have, which is 13, almost 14 years now, I have seen him go from strengths to strength in his work. But as a person, just get nicer and funnier and more gentlemanly. He's a very, very, very dear friend.

KING: Kate, what can I say? You're an incredible talent. I wish you the best of luck.

WINSLET: Thank you very much.

KING: You don't need luck.

WINSLET: I think I do. Don't we all?

KING: Kate Winslet, nominated best actress for "The Reader."

What's your pick for best picture? Go to right now and take our quick vote.

Spanish beauty Penelope Cruz joins us after the break with a scoop on Woody Allen. History shows the actors in his films have a leg up on their Oscar competition. That's next.



PENELOPE CRUZ, ACTRESS: I wanted to know who was really sharing the bed of my ex-husband.


CRUZ: Who knew what I would find there? How could I be sure you were not going to hurt me? After all, I have thoughts of killing you.


KING: You're watching a special edition of "LARRY KING LIVE," looking at those very talented people nominated for Oscars this year. One of the more talented is Penelope Cruz, nominated for best supporting actress for "Vicky Cristina Barcelona."

Did Woody Allen contact you directly to do this part?

CRUZ: I think my agent set up a meeting in New York. I had never met him before. And we had one-minute long meeting.

KING: Really?

CRUZ: Yes. Then he offered me the part one month later.

KING: What was it like to work for him?

CRUZ: It was beautiful. It was a beautiful, very interesting and peculiar experience.

KING: Peculiar how?

CRUZ: Like he is.

KING: No kidding.

CRUZ: A very interesting being. He never stops surprising you. I really like him because he's always himself and there is no social veneer with him. And he only speaks when he has something to say. And I love that. I think that's very refreshing in our industry. I've met wonderful people, but you also meet a lot of -- and he's just himself at all times.

KING: Would you call him an actor's director?

CRUZ: Yes, very much. And, also, in a very different way from what I know, because I'm more used to long periods of rehearsing. I worked with (INAUDIBLE) and we'd rehearse three, four months. Woody doesn't like to rehearse at all, not for -- not even two days before a shooting. Maybe you go through the scene for camera and for technical aspects like one time before he says, "Let's roll." But no rehearsals.

KING: Did you like this part right away?

CRUZ: Yes, I really loved Maralana (ph). I always wanted to find a character like this where I could explore the mysteries of a mental and emotional instability. Since I was a little girl, that has been one of the mysteries of life that I feel very interested about. So I loved her. I knew it was going to be an intense character to play. And we did the whole thing in four weeks. Even if I loved her that much, I thought thank God this is not a five-month shoot because...

KING: Was it a challenge to play her?

CRUZ: Yes, it was. It was because -- but a beautiful challenge. We all, as actors, look for material that is different from what we are and different from other characters we've done before. And it's wonderful to find directors that give you that trust and have the imagination to put you in characters that you have never done before. And I feel like Woody has done that with me here.

KING: Did you view her as crazy?

CRUZ: No. I didn't want to label her crazy. I -- for me, she has a different reality from the majority of people that she encounters in her life. But for her, the only reality that makes sense is her own, and it's herself against the world. And I had to be on her side. I didn't want to judge her. I didn't want to -- I could not treat her like crazy. For her, the rest of the world is crazy.

She's somebody that was told she was a genius when she was a little girl and that has become her trap. She feels that she has to keep torturing herself in order to be special. She has to keep being the destructive artist in order to have something to say. And I know people like that. We all know people like that. And it's sometimes the biggest trap. She doesn't allow herself to be happy.

KING: How about Javier Bardem? You like working with him?

CRUZ: He's, I think, one the greatest actors the world has. He's an amazing talent. I love working with him. I worked with him the first time when I was 16. That was our first movie together. And I remember, since the first scene we did together, I remember thinking, oh, my God, what is this humongous talent? What is this? And, I mean, he's done it again and again and again. It's just overwhelming, the talent that he has.

KING: And he won last year.

CRUZ: Yes.

KING: The press kit calls your character beautiful but insane. That's what this says.

Let's take a look.


JOHANSSON: How do you know I take pictures?

CRUZ: I found them in your luggage.

JOHANSSON: You went through my luggage?

CRUZ: Of course, I went through your luggage. The first night I was in the house, I didn't trust you. I didn't believe you were who you said you were. I wanted to know who was really sharing the bed of my ex-husband.


CRUZ: Who knew what I would find there? How could I be sure you were not going to hurt me? After all, I have thoughts of killing you.


KING: I like the hat, too. How about Scarlett Johansson?

CRUZ: I love her. She's great. We've become very, very good friends. Sometimes you take good friends with you from the movie. She's a great girl and really, really talent.

I feel very lucky to have been able to work with this amazing group of actors, because if there is a movie that's an ensemble piece, it's this one.

KING: What's your overview, Penelope, of the film? Comedy? How do look at this?

CRUZ: It is a comedy. When I read the script, I laughed a lot. But I always say I never laughed again until I saw the movie with an audience, because the process of shooting this movie and getting involved with this character, it was an intense and dark and everything that it had to be because Maralana (ph) lives in this complicated, dark place. So I didn't find it funny when I was shooting that.

Of course, Woody didn't want us to be too aware of what the moments that could bring the laughs were. And we are, in the back of our heads, we are, because we agree that we know the material. But on the set, you have to forget about the moments where you could be funny because that's the biggest trap for actors in a comedy, I think.

KING: I gather you would work with him again?

CRUZ: I would love to. I would hope to.

KING: What are you doing next?

CRUZ: I just wrapped a movie four days ago. I've been doing that movie for many months. So I might not shoot a movie this year.

KING: What's the name of it?

CRUZ: "Nine." It's a musical directed by Rob Marshal.

KING: A famous Broadway show. Who's the male? Who's the male?

CRUZ: Daniel Day-Lewis, who is incredible again.

KING: That should be great. And eight other women?

CRUZ: Yes. An amazing group of women -- Sophia Loren, Judi Dench, Nicole Kidman, Maria (INAUDIBLE), Kate Hanson, all the group...

KING: "Nine" comes to the screen. I didn't know that. Good luck, Penelope. Thank you.

CRUZ: Thank you so much. Nice to meet you.

KING: Nice meeting you.

CRUZ: Thank you.

KING: Penelope Cruz, best supporting actress nominee for "Vicky Cristina Barcelona."

We're going to the mat with Mickey Rourke. And Brad Pitt wrestles with old age, next. We'll see you in 60 seconds.


KING: Brad Pitt and Mickey Rourke are nominated in the best actor category for their risk-taking roles last year. The two men are at the top of their game in films that address aging in very different ways.



UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Come back over here. Stay put.


KING: I'm trying to picture this as funny, Brad. They come to you with this idea, "Brad, how would you like to do a movie where you're born like 98 years old and you get younger till the end of the movie when you're a couple months old?" What sold you on it?

BRAD PITT, ACTOR: All I heard was five hours of prosthetics every morning.


I didn't think I was the guy who was up for the task. But, you know, ultimately it -- the man spearheading it, who had been working son this for a good five years diligently and certainly -- I mean, we filmed this two years ago. So every day since then, he's been on it.

And Kate was in very early. So it really became about the company I'm keeping. And as I get older, it becomes something more and more important to me who I'm going to spend my time with, much more important than anything else really.


MICKEY ROURKE, ACTOR: Great to meet you.

One, two, ram!

KING: Did you have to learn to wrestle?

ROURKE: I did. I didn't know nothing about wrestling. I had a preconceived idea of how I thought it was, and I was -- I couldn't have been more wrong. I mean, having come from a boxing background, I looked at wrestling like it's a predetermined outcome. It's choreographed. I thought, well, I could do that in a heartbeat. And then I got in there with the training sessions, which was about a four-month period, and Olfa, the wild Samoan, was my trainer. After about, I think, the first two months, I had three MRIs and I went, you know, these guys aren't only like athletes, entertainers. They're athletic. Somebody over 230 pounds picks you up and slams you down, something is going to shake, rattle and roll.


KING: Still to come, the cast of "Slumdog Millionaire." First, Josh Brolin, and he's next.



JOSH BROLIN, ACTOR: Society can't exist without the family.

EMIL HIRSCH, ACTOR: We're not against that.

BROLIN: Can two men reproduce?

HIRSCH: No, but God knows, we keep trying.


KING: On our Oscar preview show we welcome Josh Brolin who plays Dan White in "Milk." He has been nominated for an Oscar for best performance by an actor in a supporting role. And Cleave Jones, friend and protege of Harvey Milk, a gay rights activist, who conceived the AIDS memorial quilt. He's portrayed in the movie by Emil Hirsch. He has served as a historical consultant for the film.

How did you get the part, Josh?

BROLIN: How did I get the part? The part was somebody else's part, if I remember correctly, at first. Matt Damon, a good friend of Gus VanZant's. Matt couldn't do it because of scheduling reasons. So Sean, who I've known for a while, mentioned to Gus, what do you think about Josh Brolin? I've seen Gus publicly out. And they sent me the script, try it on, see how I reacted. I cried after reading the script. I watched "The Times of Harvey Milk" with my daughter, cried after that. Called Gus and said, whatever you want to do, man.

KING: No feeling of second choice?

BROLIN: No. It was -- it's one of those things that you know the community, especially that community, such a tightly knit community like that, you know, you knew it was going to be boisterous. It was going to be fun. And then here comes Dan White to try to ruin everybody's day.

KING: Cleave, how well did Emil Hirsch portray you? Because it's got to be weird.

CLEAVE JONES, HISTORICAL CONSULTANT: It was weird, but I'm Cleave Jones and I endorse this portrayal.


It was just astonishing. My mom and dad are alive and healthy and I was so happy to take them to the world premiere on Castro Street in San Francisco. They were blown away by it.

KING: How close is the film to what really happened?

JONES: I think it's very true. It's very accurate, very true. When I first met Josh, I was sort of looking at his face and thinking, I guess it could work.

BROLIN: I guess. A big I guess.

JONES: The first day that we were shooting and Josh came out of the wardrobe trailer -- and my hair stood on end, it was just so real watching Sean, I completely forget it's Sean. I was so close to Harvey. He becomes Harvey. It's extraordinary.

KING: Dan White, I would guess a difficult part to play because he wasn't just a bad guy.


KING: He's a complicated guy.

BROLIN: I think he was an emotionally complicated guy. I don't think he was a complex guy mentally. I think he was in way over his head. I think he did great in his small district. But then when he was voted into -- on into city hall, I think that he was a very small fish in a very large pond. And then he was -- I think he went out of his way to become friends with Harvey.

Isn't that right?

JONES: And Harvey always felt that we could reach out to him. He was an unhappy man. You didn't have to be around him long to see he wasn't comfortable in his skin and didn't know what he was doing.

KING: No one knew Harvey Milk as well as you. I had the honor of interviewing him once. How well did Sean do?

JONES: He's just amazing. Harvey, I think, was the most genuinely empathetic political figure I have ever met, and I have worked with a lot of political leaders, and he just had this extraordinary ability to connect with all different kinds of people.

He was a very gentle guy, and there was also, I think, an undercurrent of sorrow with him, probably due to the fact that he was a Jew who came of age during the Holocaust, and I think that he carried that knowledge with him in everything that he did.

But, you know, he could relate to anybody. He could relate to the socialites on Nob Hill, to the homeless people pushing shopping carts, to gay people, straight people...

JOSH BROLIN, ACTOR: The unioners.

JONES: ... the union guys.

KING: Do you think Dan White had conflict -- possibility of some gay in him?

BROLIN: You know, Cleve and I have spoken about...


BROLIN: The only time I feel there was even a hint of that, personally, was during the drunk scene, the drunk scene between Sean and I. You know when you have too much to drink, things surface, and they pop, and that was a possibility. So whether it was envy, whether it was resentment, whether it was anger, whether it was frustration or whether it was a latent homosexuality is kind of up to the viewer to decide.

KING: Let's take a look at one of White's friendlier moments with his political constituents. Watch.


BROLIN: Hey, Harve, committee meets at 9:30.

Hey, you guys. Say, did you get the invitation to my son's christening? I invited a few of the other (unintelligible), too.

SEAN PENN, ACTOR: Oh, I'll be there.

BROLIN: Great. Thanks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he hear you?


PENN: I would let him christen me if it means he's going to vote for the gay rights ordinance. We need allies. We need everyone.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think he heard you.

PENN: Is it just me, or is he cute?


KING: Is that your own hairstyles? You pick that out?

BROLIN: It sure was, but the hairstylist did an incredible job. We didn't have to use a wig, thank God.

KING: By the way, "Milk" has got a good chance, don't you think? I mean -- I saw it, loved it -- great film.

JONES: I hope so. I hope so. I think Sean and this guy and, you know, James Franco, did an amazing job. I think the script was incredible. The first draft I read of Dustin Lance Black's script, I thought, "This is it," and I took that to Gus on March 1, 2009 was when -- or 2007 -- it's been only two years since the first draft was finished and we took it to Gus, and I felt so proud of Lance. I could hear Harvey's voice speaking his words.

BROLIN: And regardless of what happens, I mean, I think this is a film that will resonate for years and years and years and years, you know?

KING: Absolutely -- "classic" might be the word, right?

Van Sant did a great job. Every performance was terrific. You're on a roll, Josh.

BROLIN: Thanks.

KING: George Bush -- you're George Bush.

BROLIN: How was that?

KING: You were great. Hey, I know George Bush well -- you had him down.


KING: I thought you had him down.

BROLIN: That's a huge compliment coming from you. Thank you.

KING: How about "No Country for Old"?

BROLIN: "No Country for Old Men" was an incredible, incredible experience. I just saw the Coens the other night. We went and saw Cormac's new movie called "The Road," which is going to be good, and, you know, I've been very lucky -- great filmmakers.

KING: Strange movie, right?

BROLIN: Strange movie, strange guys. Strange actor.

KING: The Coens are strange, right?

BROLIN: Oh yes, I mean, look, they have an askew humor, you know? It's an absurdist humor, and I love it.

KING: What do you do for a living, Cleve?

JONES: I work for Unite Here International Union. We represent garment and textile workers, hotel and restaurant employees, casino workers. It goes back to Harvey's first outreach to the Teamsters 30 years ago.

KING: Based in San Francisco?

JONES: I work here in Southern California mostly, but all over the United States and Canada on a campaign called Hotel Workers Rising.

KING: Great meeting you, and good luck, man. You don't need luck.

BROLIN: I appreciate that.

KING: Josh Brolin, Cleve Jones -- the film is "Milk."

Ron Howard has already won an Oscar. How much would another one mean to one of Hollywood's favorite sons?

Speakng of favorites, what is yours? Go to Cast your vote for Best Film. Back after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, cue David.

MICHAEL SHEEN, ACTOR: Are you really saying the president can do something illegal..."

FRANK LANGELLA, ACTOR: I'm saying that when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.

SHEEN: I'm sorry?


KING: We welcome to this special edition of LARRY KING LIVE: A LOOK AT THE OSCARS Ron Howard, the Best Director Oscar nominee for "Frost/Nixon." The film is also nominated, and he has earned an Academy Award for 2001's "A Beautiful Mind."

Now "Frost/Nixon" won the Tony on Broadway.

RON HOWARD, DIRECTOR: Well, Langella won for his performance...

KING: Langella won for his performance.

HOWARD: ... It was nominated for a Tony.

KING: Had you seen it on Broadway?

HOWARD: Oh yes, well, I saw it first at the Donmar Warehouse in London, a very small venue. It was directed by Michael Grandage, a fantastic production, yet very theatrical. And, literally, while I was watching it, I began -- I don't know -- almost fantasizing what it would be to take a camera up there and really, you know, bore in on what these actors were doing. There was just so much nuance, and it surprised me just how entertaining the story was.

KING: Oh, amazing. How did you make it work when, basically, it is two people talking? I mean, there's the surrounding scenes, of course. Basically, it is two guys talking.

HOWARD: Well, I think that it is those surrounding scenes that in fact are the key. Sure, there is a lot of drama. It is the edited versions of the transcripts, and they are powerful, but I think the reason that we are nominated, you know, in the categories that we are and the reason that the movie is so much more entertaining than people ever expect it is going to be is in fact because of that behind-the- scenes stuff that Peter Morgan, the writer, discovered.

There is so much more humor and drama, and all that buildup is -- creates the suspense, so you are getting so much more than just the interviews. Yes, sure, there is the history and all that goes with that, but there is this human drama that I think is what is important to me as a storyteller, as important, at least, as the history. KING: As Langella becomes Nixon, did you film in order? Was it in sequence?

HOWARD: His scenes were roughly in sequence. It was kind of a low-budget movie, so we didn't have the luxury of really methodically going through the movie in sequence. That was something that we couldn't afford to do. But certainly as much as possible we did, and when it came to the interviews, which -- don't get me wrong, they're powerful and they were a huge directorial challenge and a challenge for the actors -- we did every bit of that in sequence. I mean, that was the big, you know, the heavyweight battle.

KING: What was the toughest part for you?

HOWARD: I think the toughest part was determining how we were going to further develop the story beyond the interviews so that the -- you know, there's a lot of entertainment value in what David Frost goes through that is dealt with in the play but it is more just discussed, and I wanted to make that visual and energetic, and Frost was, you know, he was a single guy.

I wanted to get that sexuality into the story and the humor of David Frost, and then directorially actually making those scenes as intense and sort of violent -- in a way, you know, we're exchanging close-ups and words for special effects and gunshots. I mean, we need that kind of intensity.

KING: Speaking of those scenes, let's watch briefly one of them.


LANGELLA: Look, when you're in office, you've got to do a lot of things sometimes that are not always in the strictest sense of the law legal, but you do them because they are in the greater interest of the nation.

SHEEN: Wait, just so I understand correctly, are you really saying that in certain situations the president can decide whether it's in the best interests of the nation and then do something illegal...

LANGELLA: I'm saying that when the president does it, that means it's not illegal.

SHEEN: I'm sorry?


KING: And they told you -- I knew both characters, Ron, well, pretty well still -- of course, David's still living -- I know David well. There is some empathy for Richard Nixon.

HOWARD: Well, you know, it's I hope a comprehensive look, not at their lives, but at certainly their personalities, and I think that is what Peter Morgan, the writer, really did, is he got at the core of both of these men and so did the actors. Of course, Frank Langella is remarkable, and I went to the inauguration, as I know you did, and the -- it was amazing to hear from so many reporters, journalists and also politicians who would take me aside and say what Frank Langella has accomplished here is absolutely extraordinary in terms of reflecting the range and the dimension and the complexity of Richard Nixon.

KING: Directed some major male screen stars. What was it like with Langella, who is certainly well within himself?

HOWARD: He is tremendous -- tremendous actor, and in this particular case it was interesting, Larry, but with both Michael Sheen and Frank Langella because...

KING: Don't leave Michael Sheen out...

HOWARD: Well, he is remarkable. They are both great, and it's what makes the piece really work. But they lived with these characters for a year, and normally when I go into a film I've lived with the script for a year, and now as brilliant as the actors are, I'm trying to sort of catch them up on what I think I've learned about the story.

In this case I certainly had a real clear point of view about what I thought it was going to take to adapt it and make it cinematic, make it a movie for movie audiences, but I wanted to understand what it was they had learned about these guys, and I wanted to convince them that my job was going to be not to capture the theatrical performance but get every nuance that they had to offer and kind of in a way put their final stamp on the characters.

KING: Ron Howard, nominated Best Director. The film is, well, "Frost/Nixon."

Marisa Tomei will be here when we come back. She plays a stripper in "The Wrestler," and yes, she researched the part. I'll ask her about that next.



MICKEY ROURKE, ACTOR: Have a beer with me?


One beer?

MARISA TOMEI, ACTRESS: And you have a daughter?

ROURKE: I love my daughter. She don't like me very much.

TOMEI: You should call her.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: It's a great pleasure to welcome to this special Oscar edition of LARRY KING LIVE the wonderful Marisa Tomei, the actress nominated for Best Supporting Actress in "The Wrestler." She also won previously for the brilliantly funny "My Cousin Vinny."

How did you get this part?

TOMEI: Darren Aronofsky, our director, called me. We are fellow Brooklynites.

KING: What else?

TOMEI: All goes back to Brooklyn. So we knew each other as acquaintances, and we also happen to have the same agent, and it was a little matchmaking...

KING: Did you like the script right away?

TOMEI: I did. I loved the script right away. It was very easy to read. It was a page-turner, which not always the case.

KING: Very low budget didn't bother you?

TOMEI: No, I'm kind of used to it, and actually the low-budget things a lot of times have a passion and like a ferocity to it that I do enjoy.

KING: Was there any kind of special feeling that this was a major comeback for Mickey Rourke?

TOMEI: Well, not to -- I certainly didn't -- I know that Darren just loves Mickey and loved him for a long time and wanted to do something with him and just remembered him from so many great movies, as did I. So I know that he had his eye on that, but I didn't. I was just happy to be working with a great actor and...

KING: And to your credit, you milked the heck out of this. You were terrific. Did you have any qualms about -- for want of a better term -- baring yourself?

TOMEI: I did have qualms. I did.

KING: You have a fantastic body.

TOMEI: Well, thank you.

KING: You do.

TOMEI: I had a lot of hesitation, and I hemmed and hawed and I just -- on a lot of levels on just going through that for myself and just putting myself out there in a way that I wanted to -- obviously I want to keep working and I want to do meaty parts, and I didn't know how that would figure into -- the impact it would have on people. It could have been negative. It could have really gone the other way, and I wasn't sure.

KING: In retrospect, I guess you're happy.

TOMEI: In retrospect everything is beautiful.

KING: Let's watch a quick clip from this movie, which might surprise a lot of people on Oscar Night, "The Wrestler."


TOMEI: I'm here. I'm really here. (unintelligible)

ROURKE: You hear them? This is (unintelligible)

TOMEI: Randy? Randy?


KING: That's the last scene. Did you like her?

TOMEI: Did I like Cassidy? I did, I did. I thought that she -- well, you always have to like your character. You can't do it -- you have find even in the despicable people something that you understand where they're coming from.

But I liked her free spirit. I liked that she was out of the box -- I mean, just by nature of how she makes a living and how she lives her life and her fortitude and her determination to succeed for her child.

KING: Are you surprised at how well it has been received?

TOMEI: I am very thrilled, and it has definitely exceeded all of our expectations.

KING: What's next?

TOMEI: I'm doing a comedy now. I'm happy to say I'm back in the comedy saddle doing a movie with Jonah Hill and John C. Reilly.

KING: Oh, I love them.

TOMEI: I love them. We are having a grand old time on that set.

KING: You are a delight, and I wish you every good luck.

TOMEI: Thank you.

KING: You will love her. If you haven't seen "The Wrestler," you will flip for Marisa Tomei, nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

I'm guessing that a year ago many of you never heard of some of our next guests, but now they are the toast of the town, stars of the sleeper hit "Slumdog Millionaire." It's a Hollywood story and they are living it for real, next.




Jamal, you're absolutely right!



KING: The critically acclaimed film is "Slumdog Millionaire," nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director. Already won Golden Globes for best picture, director, screenplay and score.

We now welcome on this preview of the Oscars, its stars and director. The stars are Dev Patel -- he plays Jamal -- Freida Pinto, who plays Latika, and Danny Boyle, the director of "Slumdog Millionaire."

Dev, how did you get this part?

DEV PATEL, STAR OF "SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE": Danny Boyle's daughter in fact saw me in a teen drama I do in London called "Skins," and he was having trouble casting my role elsewhere, and she sort of asked her dad to give me a go, and that's how I got into the audition process.

KING: I'm going to guess you are a Londoner.


KING: I don't know -- I have that instinct.


KING: Freida, how did you get to be Latika?

FREIDA PINTO, ACTRESS: It was an open casting call. Loveleen Tandan, the casting director, found me in Bombay. She put me on tape, sent the tape to London, and I had six months of rigorous auditioning before I got the part, but it was fun. After six months, I got the part.

KING: Were you an actress in India?

PINTO: No, no, this is my first film ever.

KING: What were you doing?

PINTO: I was modeling for two and a half years, and I used to -- I was a presenter on a travel show that traveled all over Southeast Asia, and toward the end of that travel show I got the film audition.

KING: And Bombay, that's the city where that terrible thing occurred, right? PINTO: Yes. I mean, that is the city I come from.

KING: Were you there?

PINTO: No, actually I was on my way back. I was in L.A., and I was on my way back to Bombay so I reached there the second day of the terror attacks.

KING: Danny, how did this project come to you?

DANNY BOYLE, DIRECTOR, "SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE": Well, they sent it to me, and they said it's a film about "Who Wants to be a Millionaire," and I thought, "Oh, dear, I don't want to do that."

They didn't even mention it was set in India, and of course it changes everything because it's the biggest -- the prize there is the biggest prize in the world, anywhere in the world of this version of the show, and it is set in this extraordinary city, Mumbai, as well as Bombay.

KING: Did you like the story right away?

BOYLE: Enormously. The idea of this guy, this underdog who comes from the slums, who comes from nowhere and has nothing, and he pits himself against the glitz and glamour of television and actually gets there, gets to the final, the big money -- and you find out, of course, that's not the reason he's on the show. He has a different agenda for being on the show, which is to do with his heart; it has to do with this young lady.

KING: And how did you see your role?

PINTO: Sorry?

KING: How did you see your part?

PINTO: Oh, well, I come from Mumbai, so when I, when Loveleen Tandan gave me the script and she said it's about this Bombay girl, I instantly jumped at it and, like, I have to read this script now, and after -- I think after the first two months of auditioning I was given the script because first I had just the sights (ph), and when I read it, I just completely fell in love with it because I come from Mumbai so everything that I read in it I could relate to -- the VT Station or whether it was -- just everything -- the little kids selling toys and fruits in the train, the local trains -- I could just relate to so many things that were written in the script. I just found (unintelligible).

KING: Frankly, Danny, are you surprised at what has happened to this movie?

BOYLE: It is astonishing really, absolutely. Nothing prepares you for India, and nothing prepares you for anything you do in India.

It is just extraordinary what has happened around the world, and there is a storm in India in the film. It's like the third most successful film ever released there -- Western film ever released there -- but then there are people protesting about the use of the word "slumdog" and it's just extraordinary. Nothing is done by half there. They call Mumbai "the Maximum City," and everything you do --

KING: Were you surprised at its success?

BOYLE: Enormously. I mean, it is just extraordinary what -- the way people have embraced it, particularly in America, where it has been playing now for nearly 12 weeks, and I think it's the underdog -- you know, you're rooting for the guy who comes out of nowhere with nothing and he just has this dream, and he'll get there, you know, through his determination and his heart and hope. He'll get there, you know?

KING: And there's someone to hate in the host.


KING: All television hosts.

BOYLE: Television hosts, yes.

KING: I commiserate with that rat.


KING: What are you going to do next, Dev?

PATEL: I haven't a clue. This press has really taken us on an amazing journey, and I guess I'm just trying to grab each moment and really just enjoy it and embrace it and not think too far forward. I've got to read some scripts.

KING: Oh, you are?

PATEL: Yes, one (unintelligible)...

KING: In London?

PATEL: Anywhere, wherever it takes me.

KING: Are you now an actress, Freida?

PINTO: Yes, I am.

KING: Have you been seeing stuff?

PINTO: Well, I have an agent who is handling everything for me, and like Dev said, I just want to enjoy everything because life is unpredictable. Who knows if this is ever going to happen to me again, so I'm just trying to enjoy everything.

KING: The two of you had wonderful chemistry, and you can't invent that, right, Dan? I mean, that happens...

BOYLE: No, that is a wonderful thing actually, putting them together -- and trusting the young really, because they are both very young to take on this movie, and you've got to trust the young, you know, sometimes.

KING: In fact, you're older, right?

PINTO: Yes, I am.

KING: How old are you, Dev?

PATEL: 18.


BOYLE: Listen, I know.

KING: And you are how old?

PINTO: I'm 24.

` KING: You I won't ask.


KING: I wish you the best of luck. You've got a hell of a shot here.

BOYLE: Thanks very much, Larry.

KING: The Golden Globes were fantastic. The picture is "Slumdog Millionaire," Dev Patel, Freida Pinto and Danny Boyle. That's maybe the best film story in years.

The Oscars are next Sunday. Thanks for watching.

We'll see you Monday night, and remember that LARRY KING LIVE is open 24-7 on the Web, so go to for the very latest. Drop us a line, check on the blog and vote for your Oscar film favorite.

Time now for "D.L. Hughley Breaks the News." Good night.