The 88th Annual Academy Awards took place on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Here is what these Oscar winners said backstage in the Academy Awards press room.
TOM McCARTHY and JOSH SINGER
Best Original Screenplay
Do you think that winning an Oscar for “Spotlight” will move the needle at all on the issue of church sex abuse?
Josh Singer: Yes. We certainly hope so. You know, there have been some nice positive developments in the last little while. The Papal Commission on the Protection of Minors, which is the Pope’s clergy sex abuse commission, screened the film, which we were heartened by, but we were somewhat disheartened when two days later they suspended Peter Saunders, who was one of two survivors on the panel. And they suspended him because he had been advocating for too much change. Well, we think there needs to be more accountability for bishops and more transparency, because I think they need to do more to protect the kids. So we hope that this will spur them to do that.
So in the past few weeks, you’ve won the BAFTA Award and the Writers Guild Award. How does it feel? How has the experience been for both of you?
Tom McCarthy: You know, it’s electric. It’s really exciting. We spent a lot of time working on this. We certainly don’t start a project like this thinking of awards. You think of trying to get it right. And over the course of that time, we’ve become very close to everyone involved: the reporters, the survivors, a lot of people in Boston, the crew, everyone and especially this guy, Josh Singer, who I consider a dear friend and a great mind. And to be able to share this with him in this moment with everyone who worked so hard, because we think this represents that, it’s truly thrilling and rewarding.
Singer: The other thing, as a writer, I will speak to the fact that your words and your script, it’s never realized without an incredible director. And so not only have I found an incredible friend, but he’s the best director I know.
What was it like to film in a real life newsroom and is it what you expected?
McCarthy: Having played Scott Templeton on “The Wire,” I had some sense of what a newsroom looks like, but spending real time with these journalists … one thing, we didn’t thank the Boston Globe, and we probably should, because that institution really opened their doors and their hearts to us, really guided us, really helped us, every step of the way right up through shooting.
They were an incredible asset to this movie. Of course, the reporters and the editors were incredibly helpful. And, you know, I think if Josh and I came away with anything from this it is just what hard working, dedicated, curious, and committed professionals these reporters are. And, you know, for any profession you take your hat off to people like that. And for us, it felt more like a social calling than it did a job with these people, and it was incredibly inspirational.
Well, you did get cut short. Maybe you want to add something?
Singer: No, I just wanted to say that some of the best pieces on the movie have come right out of the Boston Globe from Meredith and from Ty Burr and Janice Page. And so I just want to say we appreciate that.
What’s in the works with the two of you?
McCarthy: You mean “Spotlight 2”? Hey, look, I’d work with this guy again in a minute. We’ve been hanging out, but we haven’t had a lot of time. This awards season, as we both have found out, is a full time job.
The Survivors Network has come out with a statement thanking you both saying that hundreds of thousands of people can thank the writers of “Spotlight” because they have stood up now and taken action. What is your message today to the Survivors Network, SNAP?
Singer: Well, we actually spent the morning down at the cathedral. We were out protesting with probably a good 20, 30 SNAP folks. Tom, me and Mark Ruffalo came, and it was very fulfilling to stand there with them and urge the Church to take action.
McCarthy: Yeah. And our message is: We hear you. You are not alone. There’s no shame in this. Come out. Speak loud. Be heard. And save lives. And the truly great activists in that organization are doing that, led by people like Barbara Blaine and Phil Saviano Joe Crowley, who was very helpful on this film, and we’re forever indebted to them. And I think we all agree, inside and outside the Catholic Church, we got to do everything we can to protect the children.
For more info: Academy Awards website
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