God, family make appearance on Oscar red carpet

By Beth Harris

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Feb. 26 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

Meryl Steep, right, poses with presenter Colin Firth and her award for best actress for "The Iron Lady" during the 84th Academy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles.

Joel Ryan, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

LOS ANGELES — It wasn't hard to spot Elvis Presley's old co-star on the Oscars red carpet. She was the one wearing the nun's habit.

Mother Dolores Hart, who left Hollywood 49 years ago to pursue a religious life, made a dramatic return Sunday to take part in the 84th annual Academy Awards ceremony.

The Oscar-nominated documentary short film "God Is the Bigger Elvis," tells the 73-year-old nun's story.

"It's absolutely an extraordinary event," said Mother Dolores, her voice barely audible above the red carpet's screaming bleacher fans. "Believe me, this is very different than being in the monastery."

Hart left Hollywood in 1963 after starring in films with Presley, George Hamilton and others.

But even before her departure, she revealed Sunday, she was being drawn to her future calling.

"One of the things that Elvis and I did when we made 'King Creole' was we opened the Bible every afternoon before we went on set and we listened to the words of the Lord," she recalled.

Asked what Presley would think of her nomination, she replied, "I think he would be very happy."

No, Merle Streep says, she didn't spend the last 29 years worrying if she'd ever win another Academy Award.

Streep, nominated for acting's highest honor a record 17 times, last won an Oscar in 1983 for her starring role in "Sophie's Choice." She also won the year before for supporting actress in "Kramer vs. Kramer."

Then came a dry spell that included 13 nominations without a win before Sunday's award for her portrayal of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady."

"I have everything I ever dreamed of in my life," Streep said backstage after collecting the lead actress trophy. "I think there's room for other people. Frankly, I understand Streep fatigue and it shocked me that it didn't override this."

Indeed she seemed stunned when presenter Colin Firth called her name.

"I thought I was so old and jaded, but they call your name, you sort of go into a white light," Streep said. "It was like I was a kid again."

Documentary filmmaker TJ Martin contributed one of those unintentional Oscar night moments when he dropped the F-word while accepting his award.

Martin and his two co-winners were racing to beat the 45-second limit on acceptance speeches when he inadvertently let the word slip. He said it would be " ... awesome" if all of the other nominees in the category could also come on stage.

ABC caught it and muted the broadcast before it got on TV.

Martin apologized immediately.

"It was out of spontaneity. It was completely accidental," he said backstage.

He can take some solace in the fact he wasn't the first to do it.

Last year Melissa Leo let the same word slip after winning the supporting actress Oscar for "The Fighter."

Octavia Spencer was so excited by her first Oscar, for supporting actress in "The Help," that she almost let out the same F-word documentary filmmaker TJ Martin did.

"The word I want to use I can't," she said backstage. "I want to say, 'Fan-f-ing-tastic.' We'll just have to leave the f-ing out."

Spencer had previously won Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards for her role as a courageous maid willing to disclose the prejudice she and others faced in the Deep South during the 1960s.

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