Leonardo DiCaprio says "The Wolf of Wall Street" is "a cautionary tale," while "12 Years a Slave's" Steve McQueen says audiences were looking "for a challenging film." Jonah Hill, meanwhile, wrote a speech not because he thinks he's going to win but so he "wouldn't sound stupid."
Jonah Hill has already written an acceptance speech -- just in case. Matthew McConaughey was disappointed that Tom Hanks wasn't nominated because he wanted to hang out with him. And Lupito Nyong'o doesn't yet know what her Oscar nomination means for her young career.
Those were a few of the admissions that Oscar nominees, attending the Academy's annual luncheon Monday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, made as they appeared briefly in front of the press before heading into the hotel's ballroom.
Dallas Buyers Club star McConaughey said, "I wish Tom Hanks was in there [among the nominees]. It's kind of crazy that he's not. I'd like to hang out with him."
Asked about the so-called "heckler" who asked him at the Santa Barbara Film Festival why he had the right to play a transsexual, that film's Jared Leto said, "Heckle is a bad term. It was a debater, someone who wanted to take a public stand."
Wolf of Wall Street's Leonardo DiCaprio defended the decadent behavior in his film. "There's a lot of disgusting behavior. ... We wanted this to be a cautionary tale. It was a reaction to what happened in 2008. ... It was a giant Hieronymus Bosch painting. Martin Scorsese has never been a director who spoon-feeds the audience what the ramifications of these actions are. He purposely didn't cut away to the [victims]."
Hill, who worked for scale in Wolf, said he'd work again for scale in any Scorsese picture. "I wouldn't care. I would paint his house if he asked me to." Hill has prepared an Oscar speech, "just so I wouldn't sound stupid. The possibility of winning is so insane to me. ... It seems like a one in a billion chance that it would happen."
Blue Jasmine's Cate Blanchett accepted a compliment on her fancy outfits in the film and said, "They all had to go back by midnight. I think the entire costume budget was less than the [cost to purchase the] Hermes bag, which was also borrowed." Blanchett, who was asked no questions about the Woody Allen controversy swirling around the film, said the role "felt to me like a synthesis of my work on the stage and my work on the screen."
12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen dismissed charges that his film is too harsh to watch. "We've passed the $100 million mark, and that just proves that that's just not a question to raise anymore. It just shows you audiences are looking for a challenging film. Someone told me very early on, 'Steve, this movie is more important than you.' And I understood that and I took that with me. A great debate is occurring over something that's been lost for 150 years."
Nyong'o was asked what difference her supporting actress nom will make for her career. Her response: "I mean, It's a recognition of the highest -- everybody regards the Oscars as the ultimate stamp of approval, and ... I don't know. I guess we'll see."
Nebraska director Alexander Payne said it was hard to find his main character, and others might have done the role. "Not better than Bruce, but they readily came to mind: Henry Fonda, Walter Brennan ... Warren Oates, if he had lived. But not better than Bruce."
Several actors seemed surprised at how short the Q&A exchanges before the luncheon were. When his interview ended after just a few questions, Leto said, "That's it? What a tease!"