Oscar winners talk about the risks they had to take for projects without superheroes

Good things come to those who wait and work hard - that was moral of the Oscars fairy tale told by this year's winners Julianne Moore and Eddie Redmayne.

Speaking to Life! and other press backstage at the ceremony on Sunday (Monday morning Singapore time), a beaming Moore, when asked how she felt about finally winning an Oscar after having been nominated five times, says: "I believe in hard work, actually. At the end of the day, it's being able to do work that I love - it's rewarding and this is just amazing."

The actress won Best Actress for playing a woman struggling with early-onset Alzheimer's disease in the drama Still Alice.

Redmayne, who picked up the Best Actor statuette for The Theory Of Everything, also speaks of his extensive research for the role of physicist Stephen Hawking in the biopic.

For months, he worked with a choreographer to train his muscles to mimic the effects of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease, which Hawking suffers from. He also met with other sufferers.

"They let me into their lives. It was essential to me that I was authentic to what that experience was like," he says, adding that the responsbility for getting this and the science right in the film while also entertaining moviegoers made the whole experience "terrifying".

"But when the stakes are high, it makes you work harder," he adds.

Best Adapted Screenplay winner Graham Moore agrees that it is a heavy burden to portray a real or historical figure with The Imitation Game, his biopic of World War II codebreaker Alan Turing.

"Approaching a story of this magnitude and a life and person as unique as Alan Turing, I felt a tremendous responsibility on my shoulders to tell his story fairly and accurately. He's someone who as a gay man was persecuted by the government... and as such I always felt he needed a film that spreads his legacy and exposes audiences to this man whom history had otherwise treated so poorly," Moore says.

Other winners reflect on the risks that they and others had taken to get their films made.

J.K. Simmons, who won best Supporting Actor for playing a sadistically exacting music teacher in Whiplash, says he struggled for many years to make a career of it and would have quit acting and "if I'd had any reasonable options in terms of employment. But unfortunately I didn't - or fortunately, I guess".

"I've always felt that if you're in any kind of artistic or creative endeavour and feel that there's something else you could do for a living and be happy, I think you should do something else, because you're much more likely to find comfort and happiness. And if you can look deeply within yourself and honestly answer that there's nothing else that will bring you satisfaction, then there's your answer," he adds.

On the late-career success he has enjoyed with this movie, he says: "It's definitely more tiring than the lean times. In the lean times you get plenty of sleep. And the lean times were a wonderful and beautiful part of my life - I was struggling for many years, doing regional theatre for not much money, and odd jobs. I look back on those times with great fondness."

Of her movie Boyhood, which was filmed bit by bit over 12 years, Best Supporting Actress Patricia Arquette says it was remarkable that it ever found financing given the uncertainties involved with such a project.

"This little boy (star Ellar Coltrane) could've decided, after seven years, that he wanted to walk away" because of restrictions on enforcing Hollywood acting contracts for more than seven years, she says. So "even though it was a small budget movie, $2.8 million, it was a big investment to make with no safety net".

She also praises Boyhood director Richard Linklater for wanting "to make a movie about everyday people, people we don't usually see in movies".

"Richard Linklater loves human beings. He wanted to make an autobiographical story not just of his own childhood as a boy growing up through his perspective, but also by that point, he had become a parent.

"And even though he judged his mom and his dad growing up, at that point that he was an adult and a parent, he realised how hard it was for his mom, how hard it was for his dad, how much they'd grown as people. And he wanted to show that whole picture," she says.

Arquette and other honourees used their time on stage and in the press room afterwards to speak about issues that mattered to them, ranging from government online surveillance to women's rights and equal pay.

Laura Poitras, who directed the Best Documentary Feature winner Citizenfour, about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, says "we should be concerned for democracy", because of the state surveillance of citizens explored in her film.

The film's producer Dirk Wilutzsky adds: "I feel what we have done is meaningful and important and I think it's wonderful this has been awarded an Oscar."

Expanding on her widely praised speech about fighting for women's rights and equal pay in the United States, Arquette says: "It is time for women. Equal means equal. And the truth is, the older women get, the less money they make. And it's inexcusable that we go around the world and we talk about equal rights for women in other countries and we don't... have equal rights for women in America and we don't, because when they wrote the Constitution, they didn't intend it for women.

"So, the truth is, even though we sort of feel like we have equal rights in America, right under the surface, there are huge issues that are applied that really do affect women. And it's time for all the women in America and all the men that love women, and all the gay people, and all the people of colour that we've all fought for to fight for us now."

Best Director, Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay winner Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu lightened the mood when he came offstage, though, leaving reporters in stitches with his colourful turns of phrase.

The director, who won for Birdman, says he had had to let go of fear to see his artistic vision for the film about an ageing actor, which simulates one long take.

"I haven't figured out why I did what I did in this film, why I took those chances. I think it's (letting go of) fear, fear is the condom of life, it doesn't allow you to enjoy things. So I did it without fear and this is the result. It was real, it was making love for sure."

But he too notes that it had been a long road to get this artsy film made and finance, and that while he does not blame those who did not want to finance it because "everything sounded so risky", there is a distinctly "horrible corporate mentality in filming right now".

He and others strike a hopeful note when asked if the Oscar success of serious adult dramas such as Birdman and Still Alice might change a movie industry now dominated by superhero action movies.

Best Actress Moore says: "I hope it does. I think there is an audience for these movies - I go to the movies because I like to see complicated, interesting movies about people and relationships."