ETALK’s Ben Mulroney hopes to get a certain star to crack a smile on Oscars red carpet
This may be Ben Mulroney’s ninth year on the Academy Awards red carpet but with everything from interviewing the youngest and oldest best actress nominees in history to trying to get a famous star to crack a smile, he’s as excited as ever to cover Hollywood’s biggest night of the year.
“I think there are some great performances, some great actors, some movies of note and some subplots that are really, really interesting this year that are worth talking about and worth an interview or two on the red carpet,” Mulroney says of Sunday night’s awards show.
He cites the Best Actress category as one of these subplots. Eighty-five-year-old Emmanuelle Riva of “Amour” is the oldest woman to ever compete for a Best Actress Oscar (she will turn 86 on the day of the Oscars), while nine-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis of “Beasts of the Southern Wild" is the youngest.
Mulroney is especially looking forward to interviewing Wallis as there are so many things he wants to ask her.
“It’s not just her first time at the Academy Awards, it’s her first movie, it’s her first awards season. She’s nine years old! And she’s actually having experiences that princesses have (with all this attention).”
He’s also excited about speaking with the movie’s director Benh Zeitlin, who got his first nod for the movie he made on a shoestring budget, as well as Sally Field and Daniel Day-Lewis of “Lincoln” and Robert De Niro of “Silver Linings Playbook,” who could each potentially take home their third Oscar.
And, perhaps even more compelling -- will Tommy Lee Jones crack a smile?
“These are questions Canadians want answers to,” Mulroney says with a laugh.
Mulroney is also looking forward to seeing whether “Argo” will indeed take home the Best Picture Oscar (even without a directing nod for Ben Affleck), after dominating the award circuit thus far.
“One of the reasons the film could take it is because Affleck’s not nominated in that category. He is a producer on the film so he would be going home with a statue. There isn’t anyone associated with the movie who doesn’t acknowledge that this movie would not exist were it not for him,” says Mulroney.
Mulroney says he and the ETALK team have been hard at work for weeks coming up with interesting and unique questions for stars such as Affleck.
But even with all the preparation, Mulroney admits he still gets nervous once the stars hit the red carpet.
“There is so much you can’t control . . . I think I’m a very good interviewer but if there is no one to interview, that skill is meaningless. I might have three great questions to ask but if I’m only given one question then there’s the nervousness of picking the right one and what happens if our camera goes down, what happens if the lighting goes out?
“There’s all sorts of what-ifs and those are the things you’re nervous for, which is why you prepare.”
He has also interviewed many of the films’ stars and creators from the Oscar-nominated films during the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
“This is a really satisfying time of year where we get to shake hands with people we shook hands with months ago who were nervous about just launching their film or they were worried how it would be received . . . You get to be there and look them in the eye and say, ‘I remember when you were nervous. Are you still nervous?’ You get to finish the story with them.”
He adds that having previous conversations with the nominees also increases the comfort level between him and his interviewees that over the years have ranged from Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to George Clooney.
But does Mulroney ever get star struck on the red carpet?
“I’m not star struck to meet Ben Affleck or George Clooney. I’m impressed that they consistently do incredible work,” he says.
“You’re there to celebrate their hard work and their accomplishment and to have that many people who have done that much good work in a short period of time – that to me is what’s impressive.”
“CTV at the Oscars,” featuring Ben Mulroney on the red carpet and E! host Leah Miller on the balcony with special guest correspondent Jay Manuel discussing red carpet fashion, airs at 6 p.m. ET on CTV and will also stream live online at CTV.ca.
The 85th Academy Awards airs at 8:30 p.m. ET on CTV and will also be streamed live at CTV.ca.
About Sheri Block
Sheri Block has been covering entertainment for CTV.ca since 2008. In addition to covering Will and Kate’s Royal Wedding in London, Sheri’s highlights have included going on tour with “Canadian Idol,” being a stand-in on “Canada’s Next Top Model” and meeting Colin Farrell at the Toronto International Film Festival.Follow her on Twitter!