THE ENVELOPE
Hollywood's Awards and Industry Insider
For Rene Russo, it took time to understand 'Nightcrawler' character

Call it uncommon the way Rene Russo landed her latest (and some say career-best) role as the desperate, morally impoverished news show producer Nina Romina in this season's L.A.-set indie crime thriller "Nightcrawler." The role was created by her husband, Dan Gilroy — the film's screenwriter and director — and has given her a pack of crackerjack reviews after nearly six years away from the big screen.

She arrives for a late-afternoon interview on the Westside in a black velvet blazer, slim tan pants and vain-free smile. As an actor, she's one of those ageless sorts, both on screen and off, looking nearly half her 60 years and better than half the women half her age.

The film digs into a seedy side of the city as crime videographer Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) gets ever more aggressive in his tactics, and Romina, ever more desperate to get her show's ratings up, encourages him.

It seems that you and your husband went outside your comfort zones for this — and you both hit pay dirt. Did...

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Kevin Costner's 'Black or White,' a labor to produce, explores gray areas

No studio wanted to make it. And once he had spent $9 million of his own money to produce it, no one stepped up to distribute the thing. Passion project, albatross, conversation starter? Just don't let Kevin Costner hear you call his new film "refrigerator art."

"'Black or White' is really a giant metaphor for my career," Costner says, laughing in the bright sunshine of an early December day. "I'm a bit of a plodder. I didn't happen at 22. I started to happen around 28, 29. Certain movies have been hard for me to get made. It's a bit of a pattern for me. 'Bull Durham' was not a cinch movie to be made. 'Dances With Wolves' was not going to be made for the longest time.

"Studios are publicly traded companies, and they really have to look at that bottom line. The slots for a movie like this, maybe there's one a year for each studio, and maybe that was filled. There was no spot for 'Black or White,'" he says of his second collaboration with "The Upside of Anger" writer-director Mike Binder...

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After SAG Award nominations, an early peek at the crystal ball

The Screen Actors Guild Award nominations were announced five minutes ago, and the awards won't be announced for another month. But why procrastinate? Let's pick the winners ... now!. Because of the size of the voting body (111,228 eligible members and counting!), the prizes typically go to consensus candidates. (Sorry, Jake. This isn't the Spirit Awards.) Here's our (really) early look at the races:

CAST IN A MOTION PICTURE

The nominees: "Birdman," "Boyhood," "The Grand Budapest Hotel," "The Imitation Game," "The Theory of Everything"

And the winner is: "Boyhood." Actors love the back story on this movie. The commitment! The passion! And no age makeup!

Unless: Voters often go for volume in this category, rewarding the biggest cast five years running until "American Hustle" upset the apple cart last year. Should they return to that thinking, "Grand Budapest" could pull off an upset, though "Birdman" logically should be the next in line.

MALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

The nominees: Steve...

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Off-screen, 'Unbroken's' prisoner and captor became friends

World War II is often called "the last good war" by Westerners. That's not true in Japan. And in treading into the murky depths of the Pacific Theater with the story of Olympic runner Louis Zamperini, who was imprisoned by the Japanese and targeted by a sadistic prison guard in "Unbroken," director Angelina Jolie stirs the waters afresh. The good news? Stars Jack O'Connell (Louis) and Miyavi (the Bird) became friends during production, emerging with a modern, tempered take on both war and peace. Together they spoke with The Envelope.

It's interesting that you both became friends, because on camera the Bird is so cruel to Louis. How did you manage to turn that attitude on and off?

Miyavi: We kept a distance all the time. I didn't have any skill or technique to be on or off, so I was the Bird the whole time, even in my hotel room. I imagined if [Louis] killed my whole family, I would do anything.

O'Connell: This being Miyavi's first acting role, I didn't want to make that more difficult...

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Actresses bond over playing dress up, tattoos and aging on screen

Chemistry is one of the most essential but hard-to-describe parts of the filmmaking process. Actors need to get in tune with their costars, just as directors need to find the right way to communicate with their actors. You can’t really force it. It just happens or it doesn’t.

Good chemistry broke out in a big way at this year’s Envelope Roundtable of supporting actresses. Participants Laura Dern (“Wild”) and Patricia Arquette (“Boyhood”) have moved in similar circles for years, while Tilda Swinton (“Snowpiercer”) and Emma Stone (“Birdman”) met — and bonded — for the first time.

It all made for a conversation filled with genuine curiosity and discovery on such topics as impromptu costume design, adapting to unusual shooting methods, growing up in a household of actors and what the future holds for the next generation.

Here are excerpts from that conversation.

Olsen: Emma, with “Birdman,” the style of that movie is such a big kind of part of the movie itself, the way it’s shot so that it...

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Oscar Watch: Could Jake Gyllenhaal get Angelina Jolie a margarita?

Rain, shine or chickenpox, Oscar Watch -- a look at who and what's up and down this awards season -- comes to you every Monday. What's moving and shaking this week? Read on ...

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