"The Shape of Water" actor Richard Jenkins explains how in 1962 America was great if you were a "white, straight man."

In “The Shape of Water,” Richard Jenkins plays a commercial artist in the early 1960s, forced by the times to keep his identity as a gay man closeted. As part of the film’s triumphant celebration of giving a voice to outsiders, he joins forces with a ragtag team to help free the mysterious creature that his neighbor (Sally Hawkins) has unexpectedly fallen in love with.

“This movie I’m doing takes place in 1962 and I was in high school in 1962. Man it was great for me. But I was a white straight man, or boy,” Jenkins said at a recent Envelope gathering of supporting-actor Oscar contenders. “If you were anybody else, it wasn’t so great. If you were a woman, if you were somebody of color, if you were gay —  it’s like I was saying, we didn’t have anybody gay in my school until our 40th reunion.”

"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" actor Sam Rockwell thinks it's funny a "city kid" like him keeps getting approached to play "redneck" characters.

In “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” actor Sam Rockwell plays a violent, racist police officer in the small town of the title. After a young woman is raped and murdered, it seems that little is being done to solve the crime until her mother (Frances McDormand) begins a personal campaign for justice. Along the way, Rockwell’s character has his own reckoning with who he is and what he stands for.

At a recent Envelope gathering of supporting-actor Oscar contenders, Rockwell noted how the role comes as part of a long line of dim-witted characters that at times make him question how other people might think of him.

“I get all these redneck [roles], you know, and I think it’s hilarious because I’m a city kid,” he said. “They try and put a lasso in my hand and they’d throw us on horses, but I’m a city kid, I’m a concrete creature.”

"Molly's Game" actress Jessica Chastain explains how researching for her role gave her "a lot of compassion for women in our society" for everything they have to go through just for "someone to listen to what they have to say."

In the role of Molly Bloom for the movie “Molly’s Game,” Jessica Chastain plays a woman navigating her way through the male-dominated world of high-stakes underground poker. As she said during the recent lead actress Envelope Roundtable, the experience made her think about how women are seen and perceived in the world.

“For me it was so much about what society tells women about what they need to be valuable,” she said. “So I would show up on set with this long black hair and my spray tan and short dresses with the highest heels and my cleavage out. And I could feel the power that I would receive on set, I could feel this immediately, ‘Now people are paying attention to me.’ And at the same time I felt smaller.

“And it really gave me a lot of compassion for women in our society,” she added. “In order for someone to listen to what they have to say, they have to smile enough, they have to maybe not wear too many pantsuits, all these things that the film explores.”

"In The Fade" actress Diane Kruger shares how there is "a whole other level of responsibility" when you play someone who lives the reality of the story you are trying to tell.

With “In The Fade,” actress Diane Kruger took on a role in her native Germany for the first time. Written and directed by Fatih Akin, the film tells the story of a woman struggling to move forward with her life after her husband and son are killed in a terrorist bomb attack. Kruger won the best actress prize for  her performance at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, and as she explained during the recent lead actress Envelope Roundtable, the fact-based story was one that has stuck with her in unexpected ways.

“I didn’t quite realize how sometimes, maybe to my own fault, sometimes a character makes you discover so much more about yourself and your capability of empathy,” she said. “You know people talk about the craft of acting but every once in a while you get to play someone who has to live with that reality you’re portraying, and that sets a whole other level of responsibility in what a film can do.”

Annette Bening explains that feeling uncertain or insecure about one's art never goes away, but that's not a bad thing.

When the younger women who took part in the recent Envelope Roundtable for lead actresses began to wonder about confidence and insecurity and, you know, when do the jitters actually go away, veteran actress Annette Bening spoke up to ease their concerns by essentially telling them: It never goes away. But that’s not a bad thing, she assured them.

“Whenever you’re a creative person, you always have a certain amount of insecurity and uncertainty,” she said. “You want to be in a place of uncertainty, a place where something surprising can happen. That’s where the gold is.” The trick, she said to Soairse Ronan and Margot Robbie, is simply to cultivate those feelings, acknowledge them and accept them. And then, essentially, go with the flow.

Kate Winslet, Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan discuss how they can help make sure young girls and boys know there is more to aspire to than just looking good by societal standards.

One of the many things discussed at this year’s Envelope Roundtable for lead actresses was the emphasis society is still putting on women’s looks: their size, the way they dress and how pretty they might be. Kate Winslet was having none of it but, as she notes, it won’t change until the next generation of girls and the ones after that are taught that there are other things to value about themselves.

“It’s so important that we’re putting across an image of what it means to be strong, successful, proud of your body, proud of who you are and proud of what you say,” the “Wonder Wheel” actress said, so that young women “will know that these are interesting things to aspire to be. It isn’t about an image.”

Actress Margot Robbie was grateful that she was able to approach "I, Tonya" with a fresh perspective since she wasn't familiar with Tonya Harding's story.

As part of the recent lead actress Envelope Roundtable, actress Margot Robbie talked about her work on the darkly comic biopic “I, Tonya.” Having grown up in Australia, Robbie wasn’t aware of the infamous saga of figure skater Tonya Harding. So she was able to approach the performance with a fresh perspective.

“In hindsight, I’m really grateful I wasn’t aware of the situation, or I didn’t know who any of these people were going into it, so I could really approach it with no preconceived notions or judgment,” she said. “I quickly found out that everyone had passed judgment on her.”

Actress Jessica Chastain found the portrayal of women in the films she saw at the Cannes film festival "really disturbing."

Actress Jessica Chastain took part in the recent lead actress Envelope Roundtable for her performance in Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut,  “Molly’s Game,” an adaptation of the memoir by Molly Bloom about her time running a high-stakes underground poker game. Chastain was also part of the jury for the 2017 Cannes Film festival and spoke out at the time regarding the collective impression those films made for their depictions of women.  During the roundtable, she noted that she had never before watched 21 films in such a short amount of time. And with such a disappointing results.

“Watching in that concentration, it became very clear to me, how the world viewed women and how little stories talked from a woman’s point of view, a story about a woman who wasn’t victimized,” she said. “Of course, there were exceptions at the Cannes film festival. However, I found it really disturbing in general, the image that was portrayed of women in the lineup that I saw.”

“She vibrates in this feminine place that is not as plot driven as much as it is atmospheric,” said Nicole Kidman of "The Beguiled" director Sofia Coppola.

As part of the Envelope Roundtable for supporting actresses, Nicole Kidman, Holly Hunter and Laurie Metcalf described their experiences working with female filmmakers, and how that can lead to a different atmosphere on-set. Kidman spoke of working with Sofia Coppola on “The Beguiled,” as well as her experiences with Jane Campion. Hunter won an Oscar for Campion’s “The Piano.” Laurie Metcalf spoke about working with Greta Gerwig on this year’s “Lady Bird.”

“Sofia, she vibrates in this feminine place that is not as plot-driven as much as it is atmospheric,” Kidman said.

“She’s very quietly spoken, and unbelievably powerful,” she added. “People are running around doing things, and she speaks barely above a whisper.”

Allison Janney discusses her approach to filming her "I, Tonya" scenes with a bird on her shoulder.

In “I, Tonya,” Allison Janney plays LaVona Golden, mother of figure skater Tonya Harding, who would become embroiled in the scandal surrounding the 1994 attack on fellow skater Nancy Kerrigan. In the film, the contentious relationship between Harding and Golden becomes a big part of the story and Harding’s motivation for success at skating.

A real-life documentary interview with Harding’s mother formed the basis for scenes when she talks directly to the camera with a small pet bird on her shoulder. 

During the Envelope Roundtable for supporting actresses, Janney talked about auditioning three birds for the part and how the calm bird picked for the role wasn’t so calm on shooting day, while adding “It was fun, I really fell in love with the bird.”