‘Carol’ Screenwriter Phyllis Nagy Talks To Us About Her Oscar Nomination

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This morning, Phyllis Nagy woke up to find out she’s been nominated for a Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Award for her work on Carol, the story of two women (played by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara) who fall in love in the early 1950s. There was some disappointment from pundits that Carol didn’t pick up nominations for Best Picture or Todd Haynes’ direction. Still, Carol did pick up a remarkable seven nominations. Earlier today, we spoke to Phyllis Nagy about her nomination and, yes, she’s disappointed about the snubs, too. But she also can’t believe she heard her name this morning. Actually, that’s not true, because she was so excited she never did hear her name and has no idea if it was even pronounced correctly. (It was.)

Today is a good day for you.

Yeah, it’s not bad!

As an admirer of this movie, I’m very happy this happened. I wish it would have gotten Best Picture, too, though.

Yeah, I know. Obviously, we got a lot of recognition for the movie and I hope that means more and more people will see it. Of course, one’s personal joy is slightly tempered by the fact that the man whose stellar work made all out work shine was not similarly recognized.

This was a tough movie to even get made and it did get recognized in a lot of categories.

Yes, I think it’s all good and Todd would be the first person who would be thrilled for the recognition that it has gotten. You know, in your fantasy of these things, everyone who ever worked on the movie is nominated for every damn award and you all go through it together. But we will all still be going through it together. And I know the rest of us are very proud to represent Todd and the film. So, that’s a tribute to him.

When you went to bed last night, did you feel good about this? Did you sleep?

Well, I got about five hours of sleep.

That’s not bad.

It’s pretty good, considering. But, no, I can honestly say – and everyone can attest to this – I was not expecting it. Perhaps that’s just a writer’s natural gloom-and-doom response.

So, you just wake up and watch like everyone else?

I did. I got up at 5 a.m. and I made a pot of coffee and sat down in my PJs with my little notepad, keeping score for Carol and for pals with other films. And when my category came up, I looked at my girlfriend and said, “Okay now, prepare yourself for the worst.”

Oh no.

And then my name came up and I didn’t hear another word. I didn’t even know if they pronounced my name correctly or anything. But, I didn’t care. All I saw was a picture of Carol and thought, This is amazing and a bit unbelievable and I’m going to faint. [Laughs.] That’s what went through my mind.

Well, it’s good your name was pronounced correctly. No one wants another Dick Pope, Dick Poop situation.

You know what? That’s fine, but they could have called me Phyllis Jones for all I care! It was fine!

When you think back to when all this started, did you think this was a possibility? In a, “Hey, we have something good here,” kind of way?

You know, I never did. Because it was such a long journey and I was so used to fits and starts and disappointments – minor ones and major ones – that I never, ever thought we had anything going on until we were shooting and the bond company never showed up. [Laughs.] But, actually, truth be told, I knew it from the moment I saw Cate and Rooney in a scene together and saw what was going on that we might just have something here.

Mike Ryan lives in New York City and has written for The Huffington Post, Wired, Vanity Fair and New York magazine. He is senior entertainment writer at Uproxx. You can contact him directly on Twitter.