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Jolie, Martin, Lansbury, Tosi discuss new Oscars

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Friday, November 15, 2013 - 8:35 am

LOS ANGELES — It's an Oscar ceremony with dinner, drinks and no commercial breaks: For the fifth consecutive year, the motion picture academy will present its honorary Academy Awards at a private, untelevised, black-tie dinner.

Angelina Jolie, Steve Martin, Angela Lansbury and Italian costume designer Piero Tosi will receive Oscar statuettes at Saturday's Governors Awards, where they'll be feted by the likes of Anthony Hopkins and Tom Hanks in front of an audience of the entertainment elite.

"This event is a celebration of film, and it is really the beginning of Academy Awards season," said Paula Wagner, who is producing the ceremony.

Here's what each of the honorees had to say about their upcoming Oscars:

ANGELINA JOLIE

The 38-year-old actress-director was "completely surprised" when she learned the leaders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences wanted to recognize her with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

Oprah Winfrey received the honor last year. Past recipients also include Elizabeth Taylor, Quincy Jones, Jerry Lewis and Paul Newman.

"Paul Newman has been a hero of mine since I was a little girl," Jolie wrote in an email to The Associated Press from Australia, where she is directing her latest film, "Unbroken." ''Receiving the Hersholt award makes me feel like I am on the right path but also reminds me I have more to do."

Jolie is co-founder of the Prevent Sexual Violence Initiative and serves as special envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Even with a flourishing career and family, Jolie said she always has time for humanitarian work.

"It is an honor and a pleasure to work on behalf of refugee children and victims of rape," she said. "No matter how much I have to do, how busy my life is, I am always aware that the challenges are absolutely nothing in comparison to what they face on a daily basis."

ANGELA LANSBURY

Even after five Tony awards, 18 Emmy nominations and three Oscar nominations, Lansbury was overwhelmed to learn she would be getting an Academy Award for lifetime achievement.

"It was quite an emotional moment," the 88-year-old actress said. "It's a nod for everything I've done, in a sense. That's what it means to me: It is really an acknowledgement of a good career, a good career as an actress in Hollywood."

Before audiences knew the British star on stage in "Mame" or on television in "Murder, She Wrote," Lansbury was a movie star who earned a supporting actress Oscar nomination for her debut role in 1944's "Gaslight."

"My early days at MGM were thrilling and exciting beyond words because it all happened so fast," she said. "I started off with three big, huge movies."

"National Velvet" with Elizabeth Taylor followed "Gaslight," then "The Picture of Dorian Gray," for which Lansbury earned her second Oscar nomination. The third was for 1962's "The Manchurian Candidate."

"That was a very exciting period," she recalled. "A tragic period, too, because it came right on the heels of JFK's assassination."

STEVE MARTIN

The comic actor had no idea what academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs was calling about.

"I thought maybe a host had fallen out or something," Martin said. "I thought maybe they needed a favor or wanted me to introduce somebody."

The 68-year-old was touched when he realized he would be the one getting introduced — as the recipient of an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement.

"It goes back to the '80s and '90s — that all that work was actually registering with somebody in a kind of serious way," Martin said, reflecting on the early films he wrote and starred in, such as "The Jerk," ''Three Amigos!" and "L.A. Story." "I and all the people I worked with, we took it very seriously and we worried a lot about it, so it's quite a compliment to have it regarded in some way. It's quite an honor."

He's appeared in more than three dozen movies and hosted the Oscars three times, but has never been nominated for an Academy Award.

"It doesn't bother me that traditionally, comedies don't get recognized on a yearly basis," he said of Oscar's history of slighting comedy films. "But in the honorary academy list, there are a lot of comedians and funny people recognized."

PIERO TOSI

The costumer has earned five Academy Award nominations for his designs in films such as "La Traviata" and "La Cage aux Folles" and calls his honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement "the crowning of a career."

"Given my young age, I was really shocked," the 86-year-old wrote in an email to the AP from his home in Italy.

Tosi's collaborations with Italian director Luchino Visconti consistently caught the academy's eye, with Oscar nods for Tosi's costumes in 1963's "The Leopard," 1971's "Death in Venice" and 1973's "Ludwig."

The designer said he has been "fascinated by the cinema" since he was a child.

"Mostly, I dreamt a lot watching American movies of the '30s and '40s," he said. "That wonderful season fed me throughout my career," which spans six decades and includes some 60 films.