After Making Oscar History, Sandra Hüller Already Sees Her Life Changing

Pop Culture

It’s rare for any actor to lead two films that go on to garner best-picture nominations at the Oscars—and it’s fully unprecedented for both of those films to be non-English-language. Sandra Hüller can claim that groundbreaking first, as the star of The Zone of Interest and Anatomy of a Fall, both of which are widely expected to win at least one Oscar come March 10. And Hüller herself is in the hunt for best actress, having received her first nomination for her tremendous work in Anatomy of a Fall. It’s been a remarkable journey for the German star and her top movies for nearly a year now—going back to their world premieres at Cannes last spring, where they won the festival’s top two prizes.

Hüller and I first spoke before both films made their North American bows in Telluride—that is, before the unofficial kickoff to their Oscar campaigns—and have caught up periodically since then. She joined me this week for Little Gold Men (listen or read below) for a reflection on the whirlwind of the last few months, how she sees her life changing after this historic run—details are sparse but exciting there—and what it will be like going home to Germany when all is said and done. While she’d been introduced to the American awards circuit seven years ago with the international nominee Toni Erdmann, these films have presented a whole new world to Hüller—and she knows there’s no going back.

Vanity Fair: Can you talk a little bit about the Nominees Luncheon? How did being a part of it hit you?

Sandra Hüller: Surprisingly emotional for several reasons. First of all, I met all my fellow nominees in the category, which was so wonderful because I’ve admired them very much for a long time. We had the chance to say hi and thank each other for the flowers that had been delivered [to us], which was such a nice gesture between everybody that I didn’t know about at all. Also I like the fact that it’s a room full of people who have already won—there was no competition that day. It’s very different from Oscar night, because then, everybody’s so tense and nobody knows what’s going to happen. But at this point, we’re all just nominated and that felt really, really warm. I noticed a sense of private pride in myself, that I was in there with so many people that I admire. It was a beautiful afternoon.

Did that feeling of private pride surprise you?

I mean, pride is one of the deadly sins, right? See, it’s not something that you rock around every day. But at that point, yeah, I would never have expected myself to be in that space and I had no idea what it’d feel like. Also, the food was good.

You’ve been on this circuit off and on now really since Cannes. Is there anything about these last few months that have really surprised you or taken you aback, just in the way it works, the way you have to show up?

I would’ve assumed before from the outside, it’s a cold business, but it doesn’t feel that way from inside. The people that I’m working with feel very, very dedicated, and I have a lot of respect for the work of everybody. I don’t feel like it’s exchangeable; it really feels like they mean you and not anybody else. That surprised me, really. I had assumptions that were just not true.

This year, you are, given that Anatomy and Zone are both nominated for Best Picture, the face of the globalization of the Oscars, essentially, which is an exciting development.

Obviously, I like this development. I appreciate it very much. I also think it’s very modern—that’s the world we live in. We cannot make films just for a specific country, it doesn’t make sense. The things that happen in the world have to do with everybody. That’s what globalization is about. So I think that’s a good thing, and it’s about time that this happens. I cannot speak as an American because I’m not one—I don’t know how American people feel about this, it could be different.

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