"12 MONKEYS" COMES UP SHORT IN 1995 OSCAR RUN
by Hans ten Cate
Friday, 10 May 1996

This year, "12 Monkeys" was recognized in two separate Oscar categories. One nomination went to Brad Pitt in the Best Supporting Actor category and another to Julie Weiss for Best Costume Design. This is the fourth Gilliam project to receive an Oscar nod and is Brad Pitt's (and Julie Weiss's) first such honor.

"12 Monkeys" has done quite well since its official debut this past January 5. After 18 weeks in release, the film has pulled in a whopping $120 million worldwide. The film resided in the number one spot nationwide (U.S.) for two weeks in January. It has also received positive press worldwide, opening in the number one slot in The United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, and Australia. It has also done very well in Israel, Argentina, France, Spain, and Brazil.

Brad Pitt received his very first ever Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Jeffrey Goines, a deranged son of a famous virologist and who acquaints Bruce Willis's character in a psychiatric institution. Brad apparently hung out in a Philadelphia mental hospital to research his role in "12 Monkeys." Only the ward director was told his identity. Terry Gilliam confirmed this once in an interview, saying "Luckily, the people were so wrapped up in their own worlds they had no idea [whom] they were dealing with."

Pitt approached Terry Gilliam about being included in the film. After several conversations, Gilliam conceded and gave Brad the part. "He was sick of being seen as a blond bimbo," says Gilliam. So Brad Pitt cut his own hair and used specially-designed contact lenses to hide his blue eyes. Once removed from his traditional pretty-boy looks, Brad really cut loose and delivered an extraordinary and deranged performance for "12 Monkeys." Bravo! Sadly, Pitt lost the Oscar. Instead, it went to Kevin Spacey for his role in "The Usual Suspects," which certainly wasn't undeserved.

Fortunately, Brad did win a Golden Globe Award for his "12 Monkeys" role at the 35th annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills on January 21. The Golden Globes, although not as prestigious as the coveted Oscar awards, are nominated and awarded by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and are also held every year. The Golden Globes, which began as an awards ceremony in 1944, are usually an indicator of who will receive Oscar nominations or awards that year.

"12 Monkeys" is Brad Pitt's fifteenth film, having made his film debut in 1989 with "Cutting Class". After appearing in such soap operas as "Another World" and "Dallas," Brad Pitt first gained notice as the hitchhiking hunk in the movie "Thelma & Louise" (1991). Pitt achieved leading man status with his roles in "A River Runs Through It" (1992) and "Legends of the Fall" (1994). Pitt was also recently featured in "Interview with the Vampire" (1995) and "Seven" (1995).

Julie Weiss received an Oscar nomination for best Costume Design for "12 Monkeys." In a way, its difficult to recall anything unusual about the costumes in "12 Monkeys," because most of the film takes place in present-day Baltimore and Philadelphia. However, some of the futuristic costumes, particularly the plastic encounter suit worn by Bruce Willis in the post-apocalyptic Baltimore (seen left), must have peaked the interests of a few Academy members. As far as we can tell, this was really the only costume of note.

It was somewhat comical to watch this year's Academy Awards show in which examples of each of the nominated costume designs were paraded across the stage. Among the twenty-or-so designs were beautiful costumes from such films as "Restoration," "Richard III," and "Sense and Sensibility." And then there was this one guy, wearing this lit-up plastic contraption, stomping in circles as if he had somewhere important to go. Quite amusing. (The costumed group is pictured here, right, with presenter Pierce Brosnan)

This was Julie Weiss's first Oscar bid. She has been a costume designer for a number of years now, having done costume work for such notable films as "F/X" (1986), "Tequila Sunrise" (1988), "Steel Magnolias" (1989), "Honeymoon in Vegas" (1992), and, more recently, "It Could Happen to You" (1994).

The winner in the Best Costume Design category this year was James Acheson. He won for his wonderful costumes in Michael Hoffman's rambunctious 17th century period film, "Restoration." This is Acheson's third Oscar, winning previously for "The Last Emperor" (1987) and "Dangerous Liaisons" (1988). Had Julie Weiss won, however, we're sure she would have thanked prop master Douglas Harlocker and prop builder Rick Gamez, both whom collaborated with Weiss to create the Willis's "human condom" spacesuit.


SIDEBAR:

What is perhaps most coincidental from the perspective of a Monty Python fanzine, other than having beaten out "12 Monkeys," is that James Acheson has also designed the extremely elaborate animal costumes for Terry Jones's live-musical version of "Wind in the Willows," which will debut sometime later this year. But wait! This is not the only Monty Python link... Acheson also did the costume work for "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" (1994), "Brazil" (1985), "Monty Python's the Meaning of Life" (1983), and "Time Bandits" (1981).