Sharing a name with an Oscar nominee isn't all glamour

Jonah Hill had an unremarkable Oscar Sunday. Perhaps you heard: He won nothing; he did nothing. He woke up early and drove to a Starbucks in the suburbs outside Naperville, where he bought a coffee, then he drove home and shoveled the snow from his driveway for the umpteenth time lately: "Yeah, it pretty much sucked," Jonah Hill told the Chicago Tribune in an exclusive Oscar Sunday interview. "I am so sick of this winter." So sick that Hill climbed into jeans, a long-sleeve T-shirt and never once put on a tuxedo. In fact, Hill said he was not planning to attend the Vanity Fair party, or the Governors Ball, or any Oscar soirees at all.

He was going to skip the braised poulard from chef Thomas Keller and get Giordano's. Then he was going to bed. He had to get up at 4:30 a.m.: Jonah Hill, 35, from the town of Yorkville, operates a pile driver; he's working on the CTA Green Line station at Cermak and State. Before he went to bed, though, I did sneak in a question: Who does he want to work with someday? "Good question," he said. "But no idea."

Famous names: They're just like you and me!

They're exhausted, they want a Sunday to chill and eat pizza in peace. And then some annoying reporter comes around, wanting to know who they are wearing, where do they keep their trophies, what parties are they are planning to attend, how do they describe their style and who they want to work with someday.

Kate Blanchette, for instance: She woke up Oscar Sunday with a hangover from the night before, she said. So she made herself a bowl of cereal, then watched a little "Wild West Alaska" on Animal Planet. Then I called: "What am I nominated for now?" she asked. Well, Cate Blanchett was nominated for best actress, I explained. "But what movie?" she asked. "Blue Jasmine," I said, and asked what she thought of director Woody Allen. "No comment," Blanchette replied, then added: "Wait, who? I can't put the face to the name."

Blanchette, who is 21 and works as a server at both the Original Mother's bar on Division Street and the Houndstooth Saloon in Wrigleyville, said she was wearing "Target" (but used the fancier, French-sounding Tar-jay). She described her style as "edgy, a little skin, nothing raunchy." She said she planned to drive herself (!) around Oscar Sunday in a 2009 Chevy Avail. Then head to work. Then maybe hit a house party.

Frankly, of all the famous names I rubbed elbows with on Oscar Sunday (via the telephone), she sounded the most Oscar-ready: Jayne Squibb, 49, a property manager who lives outside Springfield — somewhat north of where "Nebraska" best-actress nominee June Squibb grew up — said she went to church on Oscar Sunday morning and then she was going back to church that afternoon to teach Sunday school.

Who are you wearing, Jayne Squibb?

"Old Navy and whatever the brand from Kohl's is."

And Sandra Bullock, who are you wearing? "My turtleneck is Liz Claiborne, my pants are Ruff Hewn, my shoes are Steve Madden." And your jewelry, Ms. Bullock? "I bought it on sale at T.J. Maxx 10 years ago."

Sandra Bullock, 67, a retired schoolteacher in Oak Park, is as fun to listen to as that other Sandra Bullock, the one in the space capsule: "Every time I shop at Target, there's this cashier, real loud: 'Hey, guess who I'm waiting on!' It's embarrassing." Oak Park Sandra Bullock has not yet seen "Gravity" and does not know who she would like to work with someday but once saw John Mahoney walking down the street. Coincidentally, she also spent Oscar Sunday teaching Sunday school; Oscar night, she read a depressing novel, then went to bed.

Can you say Oscar trend!

Bradley Cooper — who dressed for Oscar Sunday in American Eagle and Nike, looking perfectly respectable in a new $15 haircut from Great Clips — did laundry, went to the gym, cleaned the house, watched a Matt Damon movie on TV, then went to bed. No Oscar parties for Bradley Cooper: The 45-year-old engineering manager at Caterpillar lives near Peoria and has young children. Likewise, Jennifer Lawrence — the 34-year-old J-Law from Arlington Heights who telecommutes for a Chicago-area publishing house (she was the only big name I spoke with who was actually in California) — did laundry and ate a gluten-free crepe. That was pretty much her Sunday. Compared with them, Michael Fassbender was a wild man: The 44-year-old insurance-industry data proof reader from Carol Stream wore an Edgar Allan Poe T-shirt all day and played computer chess ("I'm a quiet individual"), then planned to sleep in on Monday morning.

See, for famous names, Oscar Sunday is not all about doing laundry and buying batteries at Target.

Julia Roberts — who told me her style was "modern, with vintage" and said she liked "12 Years a Slave" but loved "Wolf of Wall Street" — even created a stir: The 63-year-old retired Chicago school principal was having brunch when a restaurant manager, alerted by his hostess, came over to acknowledge that "Julia Roberts is in the house!" She sighed as she told me this: For decades, she hasn't been able to make restaurant reservations without someone cracking a joke. Also, Julia Roberts just had foot surgery and was planning to watch the Oscars alone.

But David J. Russell, 61, of Peoria, bought two bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches at Hardee's ("sinful, but it's all about the value"), went to brunch with a handful of friends, hit the sauna with his girlfriend, then settled in to watch the Oscars, which did not award "American Hustle" director David O. Russell with a single Academy Award. "My girlfriend's 22," he offered. To which I asked: "Really?" To which David J. Russell, who once acted in a high-school production of "Our Town" but now works in home remodeling and has seven salesman-of-the-year awards that he keeps on top of a file cabinet in his office, replied: "No."

As for Kate Blanchette: I called her Monday morning to congratulate her on her near-doppelganger's win for best actress. She sounded very groggy, though she politely said: "Thanks. There was a lot of competition."

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • '12 Years a Slave' wins Best Picture Oscar

    '12 Years a Slave' wins Best Picture Oscar

    “Gravity” won the most awards, “12 Years a Slave” won the biggest award, and host Ellen DeGeneres crashed Twitter.

  • Gravitas, 'Gravity' dominate

    Gravitas, 'Gravity' dominate

    Confounding the Oscar pundits who predicted levity over gravity, not to mention levity over “Gravity,” “12 Years a Slave” won the Academy Award on Sunday for best film of 2013.

  • Advice for The 606 neighbors

    Advice for The 606 neighbors

    Strangers whooshing by in view of your living room isn't a new problem in Chicago, where the CTA’s elevated tracks can provide a view of residents' balconies, backyards or even bathrooms. Ashley Marchi just moved to one such apartment.

  • When The 606 is your neighbor

    When The 606 is your neighbor

    John Knoerle admits he’s the “designated curmudgeon” of the neighborhood, but when it comes to the Bloomingdale Trail, slated to open practically in his front yard, he thinks a little grumpiness is justified.

  • Tuesday: Eat. Drink. Do.

    Tuesday: Eat. Drink. Do.

    Boozy ice pops, $1 oysters and more things to do in Chicago on Tuesday, May 26. 

  • Why would Rebel Wilson lie about her age?

    Why would Rebel Wilson lie about her age?

    On Monday, "Pitch Perfect 2″ actress Rebel Wilson took to Twitter after what she called the "shady Australian press" claimed she was not 29, but 36. Oh, and that her name wasn't really Rebel Wilson.