Rowdy Hall in East Hampton was a full house on Saturday for Variety’s highly anticipated 10 Actors to Watch Panel at the 25th annual Hamptons International Film Festival.
Past honorees include many future Oscar winners and nominees, such as Mahershala Ali, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Brie Larson, Lupita Nyong’o, Michael Shannon, Alicia Vikander and Melissa Leo. This year’s nominees included a diverse list of fantastic actors including Timothée Chalamet, Hong Chau, Daniel Kaluuya, Kiersey Clemons, Ali Fazal, Daveed Diggs, Barry Keoghan, Danielle Macdonald, Kumail Nanjiani and Grace Van Patten. Clemons, Fazal and Keoghan were unable to attend. The talk was moderated by Variety executive editor Steven Gaydos and IndieWire deputy editor Eric Kohn.
Kaluuya who starred in the mega hit Get Out spoke about the film’s impact, “Yeah it kind of felt like it connected to the people and the people became creative with it like the Get Out challenge … and it just resonated because it articulated an experience that hasn’t really been put to film yet and Jordan [Peele] really used the cinematic language to express a feeling a lot of people feel and it was accessible and it was fun in places as well as saying something really poignant … there’s joy in Get Out.”
When asked if he had sense that Get Out was not your average thriller, he replied, “The last 20 minutes get a bit real don’t they? I knew it would provoke some feelings in people and create debates and a lot of people see it from different sides … it would bring to the fore peoples’ attitudes and beliefs and it was so amazing, because I watched it on opening night in Atlanta — just seeing people to react to it.”
Kumail Nanjiani co-wrote and starred in The Big Sick, which is based on true events. He reflected, “Playing something that I’d gone through was good and bad, it was good in the sense that I had lived through it, so I didn’t really have to try and imagine what it was like, just had to remember what it was like. It was bad cause you’re trying to force yourself to relive the most traumatic experiences of your life. I remember walking down the hospital halls like ‘why am I going through this again, I already did this … and now I have to do this with twenty people watching me and giving me notes?'”
Danielle Macdonald starred in the buzzy title Patti Cake$. The Australian actress spoke about getting into character. “I’m not musical at all, so that was a really big challenge for me to be a rapper, cause that’s really really not me … I was so terrified every time I had to perform that the acting was second nature because that was what I knew.” When asked if she had improvised she said, “Because we had been working on this two years, we were pretty set in stone when we actually started production. We learned so much about the character in Sundance Labs and then I went to Jersey to understand Jersey which was a whole other thing … It was interesting cause I’m not a rapper so the lyrics and all of the words they were so set in stone for me.”
Timothée Chalamet joked about the infamous peach scene in Call Me by Your Name. “Well there’s a certain comfort in that nobody knows who I am, so it felt like if it’s no good then worst case scenario I’ll get stopped in the street every once in a while and somebody will be like ‘Didn’t you have sex with a peach in that movie?’ That was the worst case scenario.” On bonding with his co-star Armie Hammer and preparing for the film, he added, “Certainly with Armie we had a couple weeks in advanced to get to know one another, so it didn’t feel like there was a need to explicitly illustrate a safe space cause it almost felt like dancing with your friend or something.”
Read our exclusives with the other honorees:
The festival was presented by Audi.