Brooklyn has a new Oscar winner! Bedford-Stuyvesant filmmaker Luke Matheny, 35, can now add Academy Award winner to his credits after his clever short film, “God of Love,” picked up the naked gold statuette on Sunday night. Our own Aaron Short caught up with Matheny a day after his surprise win, as he was still reveling in his whirlwind Hollywood weekend.
Aaron Short: First off, congratulations. Were you surprised you won over the other four nominees?
Luke Matheny: I expected it was a 20-percent possibility. A lot of people have been telling me that the speech seemed off the cuff, but I rehearsed it pretty meticulously. At the Academy lunch, they told us we only had 45 seconds for an acceptance speech so I spent the time mouthing my speech. I appeared to be the only one taking it this seriously.
AS: The blogosphere says that you had the best speech. Do you agree?
LM: It’s flattering. Justin Timberlake agrees. He told me in the aisle. I was so preoccupied before my category and I was basically just hanging out with my crew after it, so I don’t know.
AS: What is it in your film that Academy voters responded to most? What’s the formula?
LM: This was my thesis film at NYU’s graduate film program. In film school, you’re just trying to do your best. It works against you if you think, “Who likes it and who doesn’t like it.” I thought I was making something only would really like and there was some weird paradox where it became something plenty of people really liked.
AS: OK, let’s get to the good stuff: Which celebrities did you get to meet? Did any recognize you or talk about your film?
LM: Sure, yeah, it’s wall-to-wall. Normally, when you see a famous person, you avoid eye contact so not to bother them. They all recognized me from the awards, said congratulations. It was a surreal thing. Kevin Spacey, Justin Timberlake, Danny Boyle, Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal. Tom Hanks, Paul Rudd, Mark Ruffalo. Michelle Williams — she’s really nice. I was just trying to soak it in. I wasn’t trying to wheel and deal. A college friend texted me, “Say hello to Helen Mirren.” And she walked by me near the aisle, so I showed her the text and she said, “Who’s that?”
AS: What were the parties like? Did you crash any?
LM: Yes, we went to Chateau Marmont, then went to the Vanity Fair party, then we tried to go to Madonna’s party which was full and then we wrapped up the party at Mel’s Drive-in at 3 am and saw Nia Vardalos from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” They were a blur. It’s rare that I go to more than one party in a week than a night, let alone get driven to one in a limo.
AS: Is there anyone else you want to thank that you didn’t get to thank onstage? Joe Biden, maybe?
LM: My English teacher e-mailed me that I was on page two, four and six on the News Journal [Matheny’s hometown paper in Delaware], and that I’m bigger than Biden.
AS: Where are you going to put it?
LM: I think my mom might take it.