Strong showings for "Eighth Grade" and "You Were Never Really Here" highlight the Independent Spirit Award nominations                Review: Round-Up: "At Eternity's Gate", "The Clovehitch Killer", "Jonathan", and "The Last Race"                "Green Book" is a crowd pleaser of the highest order and a definite Oscar contender                Steve McQueen and a phenomenal ensemble cast help make "Widows" look effortless                "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs" offers something for every type of Coen Brothers fan                Updated Academy Award predictions for early November                Review Round-Up: "Dr. Seuss' The Grinch", "El Angel" "The Long Dumb Road", and "Outlaw King"                Taking a look at potential Best Documentary Feature contenders                "The Front Runner" is a terrific and timely film for right around Election Day                Hollywood Film Awards Marked the Launch of Awards Season                Taking a first crack at Golden Globe predictions                “The Favourite” and “The Front Runner”: Films to see in November                Awkwafina to Host 22nd Hollywood Film Awards                Review Round-Up: "Bodied", "The Nutcracker and the Four Realms", and "The Other Side of the Wind"                Rosamund Pike is a force to be reckoned with in "A Private War"        

“The Descendants” co-star Matthew Lillard on Hawaii, efficiency and the “hype” of the Oscar race – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell He’s the “other man,” the guy we are instructed for the bulk of “The Descendants” to hate. (I can’t really tell you why, because to reveal too much would be to spoil.) And yet, in person, Matthew Lillard couldn’t be nicer. The guy who’ll always be Shaggy bulks up for a dramatic role in Alexander Payne’s new dramedy, where he faces off with George Clooney over … well, see for yourself.

I was lucky enough to interview Lillard on behalf of Payne’s “The Descendants,” which is in theaters now. Here’s Matthew Lillard: The movie has a staying power. It is impacting audience members, and they’re left pondering the film’s impact for days. I’m wondering why you think that might be.

Matthew Lillard: I saw it for the first time two nights ago. And it’s been nice because we’re at [the New York Film Festival], and so I’m inundated with it. It’s so nice to be a part of something that you respect and love. And I think people are responding to it because it’s true. It’s honest. It blasts through the clichés of traditional moviemaking. And Alexander gets such amazing emotional results without abusing emotional moments.

And I don’t think you see that very often. No studio in the world wants to go out and make a movie about a mother of two children dying, with a backdrop of a Hawaiian land deal! [Laughs] Those are the subplots. That just doesn’t get made! So when you see something different, something original, and it speaks to you … all of those things vibrate. Your co-star, Judy Greer, was telling me that even in the moments of filming “Descendants,” she couldn’t tell whether it would connect with audiences. And we started talking about how you might think a project is going to resonate, and it comes and goes with nary a blip. When you finally caught up with “Descendants,” were you surprised at how the threads meshed.

Yes, but with this, I was amazed about how Alexander was able to intertwine the comedy and the drama seamlessly. Nothing surprised me because I don’t think there’s a word in the script … he’s very judicious when he writes, and I think he shot everything that he wrote. And most of it is in the film. Very few scenes are cut. … He’s so clear with what he wants going in that there’s very little fat.

And I think that’s true in how he shoots. He runs an amazing set. I think George has a lot to do with that. Number one on the call sheet always carries the tone and tenure of the set. George Clooney, obviously, is a master at that. So the combination of the two … you’re not shooting things you don’t need to shoot; you’re with a guy who knows exactly what he wants; and you’re with a No. 1 on the call sheet who’s like, “Let’s have fun, but let’s also do some good work.” And then you have Fox Searchlight giving this filmmaker the time that he needs to shoot the film that he wants. It’s enough to spoil an actor.

Listen, it doesn’t happen. And that’s unfortunate for these kids in the cast! [Laughs] We were the Closing Night film at the New York Film Festival. It was a spotlight moment. And I just leaned over and said, “Don’t get used to this. This does not happen. Do not fall for this. This is the hype!”

Because it is spoiling. But you’re thankful that you are able to have it at least once in your life. And you hope that a few more times in your life, you are able to have it again.

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