Do Savannnah

Holly Hunter to receive SCAD Savannah Film Fest’s Icon Award


Holly Hunter to receive SCAD Savannah Film Fest’s Icon Award

25 Oct 2017

Acclaimed actress Holly Hunter’s three-decade career has garnered her the highest honors in film and television.

Hunter will return to her native Georgia for the 2017 SCAD Savannah Film Festival as the first recipient of the festival’s Icon Award, which seeks to honor “an individual who has been instrumental in bringing film or television excellence to a wider audience.” The presentation will be at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 28 at Trustees Theater.

A native of Conyers, Hunter’s film career began in the mid-1980s with appearances in two Coen Brothers movies, “Blood Simple” and the popular “Raising Arizona,” after making her Broadway debut in Beth Henley’s “Crimes of the Heart.”

In 1993, Hunter earned a Cannes Film Festival and Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in “Piano.” She has been nominated for three other Academy Awards, including “Broadcast News,” “The Firm” and “Thirteen.”

Hunter made her television debut in 2007 in the TNT drama “Saving Grace,” of which she was also an executive producer. The role earned her nominations for two Emmy Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards and a Golden Globe Award for Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

Most recently, she appeared in the Michael Showalter film “The Big Sick,” which was produced by Judd Apatow and Barry Mendal. The film also starred Kumail Nanjiani, Zoey Kazan and Ray Romano, and is based on the real courtship of Nanjiani and his wife, Emily Gordon.

Hunter began work on the Alan Ball HBO series “Here, Now” this past summer. The show, which has not received an official release date, also stars Tim Robbins.

Do Savannah spoke with Hunter ahead of her sold-out Oct. 28 festival appearances, including Q-and-A sessions after screenings of “The Big Sick” and her newest film, “Strange Weather.”

Do: What have been some of the creative challenges and rewards in working between different mediums?

Hunter: I think with theater, the privilege of getting to tell a story from beginning to end in one evening, in a way, the story is really telling you. If the play is good, it has an effortless thing to it, where you just allow the play to unroll. There’s a real power to it. It’s an actor’s medium, more than any other.

I think also, you’re often working with a playwright who is living and is in the room with you. The last play that I did was a David Wright play. It was a pleasure to have Dave in the rehearsal and in the theater almost every night that we performed. I loved that opportunity.

I think with film, there’s such a beautiful thing about telling a story in two hours, or an hour and a half, that impacts an audience in a completely different way than television. You hold that two-hour event in a different way. It resides in a different place in the memory, where you see something in 10 hours of it, or 22 hours of it, or 46 hours of it.

The ongoing involvement with television is really exciting. The people get so completely engaged with the characters, where they carry the characters with them.

They’re all three wildly different homes for an audience.

Do: What has been the North Star for you when it came to making career choices?

Hunter: I have a few. I think that being an actor, and in particular an actress, if you only have one, you might work with more rarity than you would want.

For me, it, of course, has been many different things. The desire to work sometimes guides me. I really, really want to work. Sometimes finances have guided me. I needed the money. Sometimes, a director has guided me. I really want to work with a director. I want that engagement. Sometimes, it’s the part. In the really rare circumstances, it’s the part, the director and the project — all three coming with the desire to work — and maybe the money is even good.

Do: What have been some of the more rewarding projects during your career?

Hunter: “The Big Sick” is definitely one of them.

One of the primary functions of a movie being rewarding is success. You do a movie that you had a fantastic time on. You love the director. You love the character. The actors were fantastic and then the movie doesn’t ever really hit an audience, for whatever reason. They couldn’t find a distributor. The timing wasn’t great, or the movie ended up not being very great.

That thwarting of the film totally affects my memory of it and my experience of having worked on it. I hope that a film will connect with an audience, and that the story will.

Do: After 35 years in the industry, what advice would you give to an aspiring actress?

Hunter: I try to give advice as little as I possibly can. Because, in my experience of working with people, people make it in the movie industry, in the television industry, through every avenue that you could possibly imagine.

I could say to people what has worked for me. I know what worked for me. The truths are not hard and fast. People can drive to L.A. at the age of 18 and say, ‘I am going to be a star.’ And they get out of their car in L.A. and they become a star. People have certainly done that and had amazing careers.

I got professional training. I got a degree from an acting conservatory and immediately moved to New York. And still live in New York now. That was a way for me.

It’s not like you’re studying to be a doctor. You have to go through med school. If you’re a lawyer, you have to pass the bar. With actors, there’s none of those prerequisites, really. People can learn as they go. I certainly learn as I go.

It’s just a different craft. A different art. A different career.


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