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UCLA

Bruins Take Oscar Gold

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By Teri Bond

Published Feb 27, 2012 8:00 AM


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Gore Verbinski '87. Photo credit: Rick Salyer / © A.M.P.A.S.

"I feel like I'm dreaming," Gore Verbinski '87 told reporters backstage after winning a 2012 Oscar for best animated feature film, Rango. "It's here. It's in my hand. It's heavy. It feels good."

Verbinski wrote, directed and produced the western comedy starring Johnny Depp as an ordinary chameleon who accidentally winds up in the town of Dirt, a lawless outpost in desperate need of a new sheriff.

Known for directing the first three installments of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Verbinski said Rango financing came together when Depp agreed to the project. "Once Johnny said he was in, things started to happen."

In his Oscar acceptance speech, Verbinski said, "Someone asked me if this film was for kids and, I don't know, but it was certainly created by a bunch of grownups acting like children, and we just had the best time." (Verbinski is currently directing Depp in Disney's The Lone Ranger.)

After thanking a long list of talented artists who created the movie's wild characters and the "early believers" who helped get it made, Verbinski acknowledged his loved ones. "And to my beautiful wife and my family who inspire me every day with their smiles and laughter. It doesn't get any better than this, thank you."

Fellow Bruin Alexander Payne MFA '90 added a personal note, too, when he accepted his Oscar for best adapted screenplay for The Descendants, which he co-wrote, directed and co-produced.

"Mom, this one's for you!" he said, waving the statuette toward his mother, who was in the audience.

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Alexander Payne MFA '90. Photo credit: Michael Yada / © A.M.P.A.S.

"My mother is here from Omaha, and after watching the show a few years ago, she made me promise that if I ever won another Oscar, I had to dedicate it to her just like Javier Bardem did with his mother," he explained.

Then he thanked her for "letting me skip nursery school so we could go to the movies" and said "I love you" in Greek, a nod to his family's heritage.

In The Descendants, Payne brought to life the tragic story of a family in Hawaii, originally published as a novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings.

After kissing Angelina Jolie who announced the winners in his category, Payne told the audience "We bow to our fellow nominees." He also gave kudos to his actors. "We share this with George Clooney and the rest of the cast for interpreting our screenplay so generously."

This is Payne's second Academy Award. He previously won in the same category for Sideways.

View his acceptance speech here: Oscars Must See Moments

Homepage photo credit: Michael Yada / © A.M.P.A.S.

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