Octavia Spencer Lacks 'Clear Recollection' of Winning Oscar

Spencer appears on "Popcorn With Peter Travers" to talk about her role in the new film "Hidden Figures."
23:38 | 01/06/17

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Transcript for Octavia Spencer Lacks 'Clear Recollection' of Winning Oscar
Go find you we. That kind of jams it home glass along. Stroke at me. I have been selected day and night. Yeah. It's coming out. Though there is waning minutes. Just think it's a hands on parent. I'm Dorothy bone cleared decks I'm leaving. In this camp. She's been with three beautiful appearance. So well behaved angels and is what we like to call. Don't see its last ten. Hi everybody I'm Peter Travers and welcome to popcorn where we tell you what's happening at the movies and terrorism now cordoned figures. That you've got to see I mean it's a true story bears amazing acting unit but. The most amazing to me because she's so dear to my heart is Octavia Spencer who has agreed to come on them she. Well thank you wow it's so did last time Wesley was Sundance you do improve pills that he has been awhile that's been alive in a minute with. See you you always winning awards. With everything is just happening could be because it should well thank you thank you M. This is just doing this movie was as good for me. In my spare what you know it's so great because it it is about the space program and it's the late sixties and. We're seeing these three incredibly strong African American women who are so crucial to the space program and when I first heard about it has said. How did they make that up. In a whole. But they didn't you know re worded it is true every word of his trip. What I for certain that I was historical fiction just like hell because we never heard it through outs then. Entire 46 years of my life. 43 tune what forty years among 36 it. I'd never heard this story so. It be able to be a part of the telling them it is is one of those things and I'm very eerie sight so tell us a little bit about the character that you're playing she's not a character she's she's real. Dorsey vine. Was the acting supervisor. Of the female African American female computers they were the women who did all. The trajectories and everything I stop you because it's so great with that that they're called computers. That's what these. Computer operator errors are programs were called compute they were actually before they were programming because Dorsey is can be credited as a mother of the women coat. She figured out the IBM. And then taught herself to program it and then tie the other women who were computers actually did computations. It's it's when you think about it we you're so used to having our computers that are fingertips that he's women. Are actually computing and they gave the information to scientists it was. Amazing. But really it's a tight body into rep did you telling us about dark. Well basically it that this story is about these three women African American mathematicians and help get our. First men and space is just an uplifting movie too because. You see these women it barely two sets and a very volatile time unease nation's history. But. It doesn't deter them from the task at hand in the coal. Is to be a part of something greater than themselves. And that's what they did they contribute to our space race airspace for. We'll talk a little bit about your co stars and who they're playing to rushing Denton is also. Terrorize you penis and is the story while it's about these three women released centers around Catherine Johnson because. Had it not been. For her contributions would never gotten space efforts but she was a money figured out that Al correct them. And so a lot is credited turn she still with us. She saw the movie last week really yes what did she think was reviewed each year she gave it two thumbs up her family loved it. And we watched it also would Dorsey bond Stanley which likely Dorsey. And Janelle Monet plays Mary Jackson and we saw with her family they were all very very happy with with the telling the stories. Which is your best critics you're gonna average your for a. That's always is. Exactly me. Doesn't matter whether I like it or are you likely he would love you liking at that's good that's very open them to do. To do it but what we're also seeing even though it's the late sixties and it did civil rights movement is there. You ladies are still taken a lot of crap absolutely it's set right and then at the beginning of the civil rights movement so when you think about it. These went in the right to votes. And well you know in the movies taking place at the time the movies in places like 19611962. The voting rights act didn't come for another couple of years so. It's. Would that you put it in to that context. And know that they fought so hard for equality. Just to be you know recognize in the workplace and that history went on to somehow obscure them. From. From the achievements in this space race is it makes this movie that much more important for me what I exists still to. To me. A horrible thing to think that we don't know if some that this movie as good as it is has to be the one that puts it back. In our own minds as part of American history. I think this will. The beacon of hope and hopefully. Attract more young minds to the space program because you know young girls or her steered away from stem programs and we know now that women have always been involved and science technology engineering and math I mean. For a very long time. So. If it just gardeners at type of passion from. Feature and Susie is I'm thrilled that we got to be part of it I know to rush into an ally are we just have Kevin Costner playing them you're own coast time. And Kevin I just like and his team I know he's so lightly and place. He's he is but he does there's a scene. In this movie where to rise each character is basically having to do go two miles before she can go to the bathroom. And he's gonna try to make it's he can affix it so she doesn't have to go to a black restroom somewhere else. And we look at that today kids today looking it would say it world as. You know they really don't understand the context. Of what. Error the period that these women reliving it you know segregation was by law. Ands. The head of NASA was quite progressive in this thinking. That it does matter the color of your skin near gender it's about the great mind contributing to our work. And he he says tonight and Kevin have that has outlined we don't get their together we don't get there at all. And it was actually true because that it not been for them looking for the brightest mind and Kathryn Johnston. I know I think eventually they would've gotten there but we got there we got there crediting her. Credit her you've created dart be who you play because in the end even though she doesn't get that title but rumor. She's managed she's managing puts he's in that IBM with those guys in thing this is this work. Can you imagine. This machine. That fills a room and they are paying all of these men who are from the company seen. You know chart the trajectories in everything but they couldn't get it to work you have this woman who could. Disassembled car and reasonable she could fix anything mechanical. Anything. And she went in there sneaked in there on her off time to figure it out and she did but she also realized it was going to make their jobs op silly. So as a visionary she looked two miles down the road and said okay. Megan needs about appropriateness or she taught herself to do it and then later taught the women in both the east and west competing groups of black you know. There you go as my wife always says men known nothing I. Heck they think he'd it was for women then he nothing. Count the teen needs Wikipedia a ticket well. And what's good for the previously it taken over this movie you all got along did the three of you feel like a unit. Absolutely Ted ralphie art director and he also co wrote the script. From the beginning we we had two weeks' rehearsal period. And from that beginning it was really about setting who we were in our real lives and becoming an assuming the roles of these women. And Regis are our relations jail from day one. From date want to Raj is an amazing cook. Says she had me into an -- over and there's a scene or actually play cards in the film that we kinda ended up playing cards you know at her house. So yeah out we have to. New additions to my lifelong friends. They were going to be different throw that's it you're. Listening to denounce music. Watching empire. How are watching project might have come on and I'm being assist a British this. I don't know how that of fat and to. You could make it had. I'd go that you do that. But what's rush he's doing to there's nothing cookie in this reform now there's nothing there. Now those people that are looking for that I'm gonna get what she isn't great chameleon mean that's what we do was actors she. Really. Captured the essence and the elegance. Catherine Johnson I mean that's what I love about. The entire cast we have a beautiful on fumble I'm thrilled to be just a cog in the wheel I really am but. It's all barely on content rises shoulders we through and that dart is actually. In her own quiet way. What if he thinks that we think you think that we act and he's making history that initiatives is so are you. Is this a happy time for you in your career you just happy with the way the can. Also on mom I mean I've loved you in the BI know you've got better but when you're kind of this. Collect who alcohol it. Holm Beth leader of men you just love to play you and Alison Jane needs as I go and Eddie Jones. Alice is one of my dearest friends and and did. See her being welcomed in the half Fowler genre she's really one of the funniest people. On the plan and I love that she's able to do drama and comedy so seamlessly effortlessly startled. I'm so grateful that I am afforded opportunities and I never would you know. Beyond four years ago this I feel like there's Greenberg. And it is the defining him as an actress it's wonderful. Will you and Allison and help to get. Back. Now that is a movie would be created fan and yes. Really did you got a member Emma Stone in the engine that's that's still going on Emma Stone Viola Davis. Allison Janney Bryce Dallas Howard on a O Reilly we're all its we're still there it's funny because I saw. Bryce at Toronto. Wayne and and ran in to Emma. Om and bio and Jessica chest pain I mean is what happened there are I don't. Think they'll want to do. Seats as we've been you know texting as soccer. Just a couple of weeks ago and it just feels so much like old home week when you get to run into them but we we're constantly in contact news at its kind in knots. An issue but what we don't really get to see each other's at one week it's CT its then it's like -- contents pretty. Well that's a good thing to happen. The hell. And that Oscar winner who what do you remember that time that night and. At night to yes I remember it felt like an eternity. From you know him walking out is basically he's talking inch option. And then he's O Euro pretty who wanted that presented Christian Bale Christian. Yeah. Cadillac and he's in slow motion reading news slow motion and IIA I honestly don't have a clear recollection is. I know that it was about getting my knees. It is. Moved eight lobbies the functions IP just locked up I couldn't stand is like oh god got to walk up there how my gonna get up there and I couldn't get up this airs. So it was about not falling down but I don't. I watched the video so I know what happens. Not. Not from Sacramento every act as a Jones. Fault. The world is watching. Alabama is lodgings available down. Obama Girl they do watch they do definitely do that but what did that did that change things for you wonder what happens. It definitely changed my career but. The difference. It it took it was a slow burn because you know people have to see you man to see your work on what you follow up with and then. I felt like more and better roles came my way but it took a minute it's and it's and I didn't mind sitting it out waiting for different opportunities. I was thrilled to be a part of fruit LCI. But I think about trying cooler now you know being this new marvel guys and I love creed that he's now part of that team and Michael. Jordan and it's and you know just an amazing movie and everything different this happening at that again you. Started. And I never really got to ask your budget review an intern. I was and then Terry and. Tiny little movie with Whoopi Goldberg in Sissy Spacek. Called the long walk home. And he kept that job what we genuine in turn I called every day eight went dale I found out where I honestly so I found out where their office was. And I I wish every day and I called every day and finally. And the poor production coordinators at. He Hackett is leaving are you gonna keep coming back nice it isn't. That persistence I just II movies I didn't realize that movies. Were made on location I thought they only were made in Hollywood and I didn't. Would not have a chance to break again and when I realize it can be filmed in your own backyard. It changed my whole life. Well we do I. Up to that point what I wouldn't lifeless to high school so yes. Yeah Taliban in Alabama to immediately start Tom you know you get and I plan would come around when surrounding these people are becoming to rattle Australians some Australian. I can't difference. Relay pool noted. And I. You program that you if of models of your pick. Them up on the bus collided and threatens the so your high school but you're saying to your family. I'm gonna be in this business. My mom had just passed away I dis remembered. She'd always wanted to secure college in do. You know those things but when I. Heard that this movie was coming to him and I felt like I was into a circus I'm gonna join the circus and I'm and go from downtown with circuits. Basically the movies and it was a defining moment for me because. It was the first step in my dreams coming true towards making my dreams country and it worked with Howard cots. And Dave bell the producers in. Man it was. It was wonderful. It changed it changed my whole. Is it like on your first day as an intern on a movie with Whoopi Goldberg and since its base magical is it still managed there was no you had no fear eulogized this is where I wanna be. We'll be and I acted out a scene from the color purple like for Elena I did I mean I there's is hitting. Yet we ate its its cultural phenomenon the color purple I mean I can quote anything from. And I just went to. Memphis team you know or Sophia stomp through the all my life and I going through and we'll be did a couple of her lines analysis. I was transfixed and I news I would never ever not leveled ago where. And I remember her saying to me. Near the endemic as I was starting at depressed. When I moved to Hollywood and and and become an actress and she said. Prime mister mom that you go to college you need your palate Hollywood will be there and so I did and right before graduated she was filming in. Some other countries. Far away like I don't know Africans and where. And she had her brother called me and deliver a message that she was proud of and I does I remember that to this day how committed Zealand. Hello. And she just. BGU and said you've got to go to Colin you have to an apology from mr. mom. Hollywood will be there and she's right. Hollywood still there ladies and gentlemen this is still there is still there under you know it's. It is you and yet it you you it's never too late to proceed so what's your first time on camera on school would have with. I just want to know how that happened I was we're behind the scenes and casting and Joseph Schumacher. From that point on every I'd had up all these directors say to me use enemy it's personality. I'd like for you to read further role. Lighten now think you you know I'm an act working you know Isaac casting assistant and an actors but secretly I was like yeah. Gels Schumacher we were on a time to kill a time to him he did not ask me re. Yeah I went and asked me to reside in turn and and he didn't ask me until I asked him if I can be the woman hears about person who started this. Riots. Tip frees Sam Jackson's character and our marriage saying. No honey your face is too sweet you can be seeing these others. And that started mine professional career being Sandra Bullock sooner lose Rourke sooners. And and I remember my lines. I think we. Owner you'll never forget that moment here I am of course you don't think that I applaud the cars I had forgotten it but now. Time to Kellogg's dreaming that night at just concede that moment innocent. Kid thing. And then after Hollywood got on the give back. They beat a path to you or don't war bases I Kenya. We want you mean there's a tree you know I've victory there was a clear path I had to walk around few puddles but. It I stayed on that track and and cinder bullet actually. Gave me my second job and she was responsible for helping me get an agent. All these things that you don't really understand the mechanisms. Until after the fact how fortunate that you were. I worked and cheap shot a short in Ventura. And I had just moved to town me in my different Tate Taylor and we were working its PA's on it and she. Had a situation where one of the actresses had fallen out of the short. And she. Ended up giving me the parts and then I had taped with Sandra Bullock and Matthew economy in the short film that was shown to a direct our two casting director. Because the DP on that movie was doing it dizziness. So it was just it you when I went from job to job then I realized I really had to study film acting and you know but it was it was not a an easy road but he was definitely one that was in chanted in some way. It is because you're making Hollywood sound like a really nice place where everybody's they acted. Are unionized well give you part in my shore. As in mind casting to and then my age it will connect you with this people kind it was that way why anywhere near people going nobody's army. Now what you do you have those and always don't get me wrong I mean there were moments of that I was. Bill. And so you haven't aged guy I don't like you get you know two jobs a year in you're doing okay if it jobs a year. But that's why I was so thrilled to surround myself and like thousands and he's in the Melissa McCarthy's before. Anybody in news Al illicit Melissa McCarthy was in the ground links here has been Ben Falcone. And Tate and there's at Jim rash who won an Oscar for the descendants would. His writing partner at that peak winds up directing and help yet and we all we were all together I mean I. It's just I I can't see any part of my career without the nucleus of friends. And support. Would you be doing if none of this happened I've been FBI probe. I would be that presents a figuring out the crime seriously I have this affinity for the line the written word. The letter of the law probably would be in law school. Maybe I don't be damn good do in that yes your pockets of. It is sticking with that's. I've met yet I've never doing that it's a yeah I get to play a lawyer until I'm sure you'll play it and you do all of this because you're you. You know and at B time I see you on screen. I'm happy I just feed that to do that. Says that you lead a charmed life do and we're all better afford to do that I do I I'm I'm very atlas woman who really are and of course. You know that we ended song all the time I don't know why is in your head but I'll take what Evers and while. These women or Wonder Woman to me and I just. The land is waiting you and the battle as you put says. And you'll sentence it's fighting Foleo ranks and the already let him do. Food. Oh come on it. I am so happy with that logged. Why can't you just be here with us always. Honey if you pop getting that netted eight at least of it well taken but look it's our. Via.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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