It’s the time we’ve all been waiting for (kind of): Oscar nominations were announced early this morning. My favorite nomination this year goes to Jewish actress Jennifer Jason Leigh, who was nominated as best supporting actress for her role in the “The Hateful Eight.” She also voiced the role of Lisa in Charlie Kaufman’s “Anomalisa,” which she was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award. Clearly, she’s on a roll.
The Quentin Tarantino film “The Hateful Eight” depicts eight strangers seeking refuge from a blizzard during the American Civil War, and 53-year-old Leigh’s role was nothing less than grisly and utterly badass; she’s even stated that Daisy was “as tough as they come.” Having just seen the film myself last week, I can truly say she was not only spectacular, but it was refreshing to see a woman in a role where she wasn’t merely there as arm candy–but was allowed to be as nuanced, complicated, and intimidating as all of her male counterparts. This is how women are in real life, and I’m glad to see the Oscars are recognizing this.
She is the only woman in the film, but felt that everyone, both Tarantino and her costars, didn’t treated her any differently, stating in Variety:
“I thought it was funny, but I didn’t think it was misogynistic for a second. [Tarantino] doesn’t have an ounce of misogyny in him. It’s not in his writing. It’s not in his being…He writes the best parts for women out there. He really does. He writes very brave, bold, insane, fabulous women. Nobody writes women like he does.
I felt like gender didn’t come into it that much. I felt in some ways very protected, but I also felt like they didn’t change for me. They didn’t behave differently for me. Like, they still told the same stories they would tell if a woman was not present. I felt like one of the guys—I really did—and I loved that. At the same time, I felt like they definitely cared about me and my well-being.”
But Leigh’s life hasn’t always been so charmed. In fact, she’s struggled through many difficult and emotionally taxing times–as daughter, wife, and mother. In fact, Leigh divorced her former husband and director Noah Baumbach when their son Rohmer was only 7 months old. (It was rumored that Baumbach left her while she was pregnant for Greta Gerwig, an actress in one of his films.) As any single parent knows, raising a child alone after a divorce is incredibly tough, even if the other spouse is involved in some way.
Besides a public divorce, Jennifer’s father was accidentally killed during a helicopter stunt on the set of “Twilight Zone: The Movie” in 1982, which was also the year she debuted in her first film, “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” When asked about her greatest influences, however, Leigh comes back to family, recently telling People that her mom, screenwriter Barbara Turner, is her biggest inspiration:
“My mother always helped me because she was kind of a research fanatic. When she would write a screenplay there would be so much research all over the walls. And so when I started working as an actress I would do the same thing. She instilled in me a love of taking everything very seriously. It didn’t matter what it was.”
Her 5-year-old son, however, doesn’t quite understand what having a famous mom is like just yet. Award shows are now a regular occurrence for Leigh, but according to the People interview, her son would rather her stay home and hang out with him (I mean, who wouldn’t?), and apparently told her to stay home from the Golden Globes:
“I was looking at all these texts. My son actually said, ‘Why do you have so many texts?’ I said, ‘Oh, I got a nomination for an award. It’s called a Golden Globe. It’s this really nice night and it’s an honor.’ And he said, ‘Can you cancel it?'”
We have to say, that’s pretty adorable. We’re sure she’s glad her son is still at that stage where he wants to hang out with his mom (and believes she’s the coolest person on the planet), because unfortunately, that stage doesn’t always last.
For now, we’re sure she is basking in the moment. Mazel tov!