Gabourey “Gabby” Sidibe was working as a receptionist in an electrolysis office this time last year. This morning, the Golden Globe nominated star of the acclaimed Precious: Based on the Novel Bush by Sapphire was in Time Square helping to power the 2010 New Year’s Eve Ball. I’ll be damned if the phrase “what a difference a year makes” has ever resonated more.
At the Duracell Power Lab, Sidibe became the final celebrity of the year (guyliner extraordinaire Adam Lambert and “SNL” funnyboner Kristen Wiig are among those who took part in ’09) to pedal the battery company’s Power Rover, which captures human energy via the push of a pedal, and converts it into usable power. The yearlong storing of power will light up the 2010 numerals as the Ball drops tomorrow night. How appropriate since Sidibe’s star has been shining since Precious dropped in Sundance nearly a year ago. As we head into the new year, I asked Sidibe about the miraculously surprising 2009 she’s had, and the film which could be likened to rival battery company Energizer in that the Oscar buzz for it seems to keep “going and going” month after month.
Here’s the brief but delightful chat we had about her brutally honest portrayal in Precious and what it’s meant for her…
Beside the obvious, what has been the most surprising thing about Precious?
It’s all been surprising. I would say the award nominations – that’s been the biggest surprise, because I kind of did the movie to get out of college in a lot of ways and do something different in my life. I had no idea people were going to see it, how it would change so many people, and that they would connect with it … And that I could get nominated for a Golden Globe and SAG Award. It’s amazing.
You’re obviously going to get nominated for an Oscar, and I understand you’ll have to tell me “you hope so but you’re not sure” but I’m curious if you’d like to take this opportunity to ask Justin Timberlake to be your date for the evening. You were beyond ecstatic when he read your name out at the Golden Globe nominations earlier this month.
[Laughs] I don’t know. I’m going to keep my options open … I’m going to keep the date open for now.
Back to the film, did the role stay with you while you were filming it? It’s such a deep film – I mean I saw it movie months ago and it still sticks with me…
No, it didn’t. The thing about me is it’s not new information. I’ve known girls like Precious in my life. It’s [real] life, but it didn’t stick with me.
I see you on talk shows and it’s remarkable how different you are from the character. It’s like night and day.
Yeah, I’m very different. I’m also like such a weirdo I’ll be watching and think “oh, she looks real pretty in this scene. I’m so proud of her, and then I’m like ‘that’s you, Gabby!'”
That’s hilarious. I was going to ask you if you sort of lose yourself in the character while watching the movie …
So, OK, yeah … The first scene I was very aware I was watching myself. But, the second scene, I completely forgot that I was watching myself. I was just so into the story. It’s so weird I’ve seen the movie something like 11 times now and it’s like I’m not watching myself at all. It’s about this girl.
You didn’t necessarily set out to go into acting – now you don’t have a choice really …
Are you cool sticking with this for awhile?
Yes. More and more. It’s certainly something I didn’t know I was supposed to be doing and that I would enjoy as I am enjoying. I hope to do it for a long time. I really, really love it.
Lastly, as we close this year out – are you still pinching yourself?
It’s been really, really surreal. I’m in a subconscious state a lot time, and then I’ll look up and I’m on Jay Leno or Oprah. It’s been surreal.
And when you wake up Oscar morning, I bet that’ll continue.
You are going to wake up Oscar morning, right?