In an Oscar ceremony low on high points, most everybody seemed to agree that one of the evening’s best moments came when Luke Matheny, recently a film student at NYU, accepted an Oscar for Best Live Action Short for his inventive romantic comedy God of Love. Very tall, with a shock of dark curly hair that he publicly regretted not cutting, Matheny gave a sweet and polished speech that also displayed just enough of his goofy charm to immediately win over the audience. We caught up with him via phone after a rather eventful night to ask him how he’s doing.
What went through your mind when you heard your film announced as the winner?
Well, you know, at the nominees luncheon, they drilled all of the nominees about meticulously practicing their speeches to finish within 45 seconds. Apparently, I was the only one who took this seriously. So, I had been practicing nonstop. And at that point, I was just ready to recite the speech and was hoping I finished in time.
It seemed to have worked. People loved your speech. You seemed more confident up there than a lot of big-name actors and filmmakers.
I guess practice helps. I mean, really, I’m not kidding — I practiced that speech so many times.
You’re a pretty recognizable figure: You’re tall; you’ve got a lot of hair. Have a lot people been recognizing you today?
Well, the funniest was this morning. Last night, I lost the keys to the apartment I was staying in. And this morning my car was towed. So, when I went to pick up the car at the tow station, I said to the attendant, “Guess what happened last night?” And he said, “You won an Oscar!” Later, we had brunch at this place the Griddle, and a bunch of people came up and said congratulations. I guess right now I’m just in a zip code where everyone saw the Oscars last night.
So, what parties did you go to?
We went to the Governor’s Ball, and then the Chateau … what do you call it …
Yeah, that. Then we went to the Vanity Fair party. We tried to get into Madonna’s party, but it was at capacity. So we called it a night — there were like eight of us — and went to Mel’s Drive-In. We finished the night with milkshakes and waffles and drunk people coming up to us wanting to hold the Oscar.
So you get to keep the Oscar statuette immediately following the ceremony? What about getting it engraved?
Oh, the engraving they do at the Governor’s Ball. That was great. Aaron Sorkin was a couple of steps behind us, and Natalie Portman came in while we were there.
Is there any particular moment from last night that really encapsulates your experiences?
I think maybe meeting Tom Hanks, and freaking him out when I told him I had an eight-foot-tall poster of Joe vs. the Volcano at home. I don’t think that’s the film he gets the most compliments on. But really, in person he is just as nice and down-to-earth as you’d expect.
So what happens now?
Sasha [Gordon, Matheny’s partner and collaborator] and I are going to try and get away a bit tonight. We’re flying back to New York on Wednesday. I will try to field a bunch of media requests, and then I’ll lock myself up and polish this script I was working on, hoping I can use some of this Oscar momentum. I also currently have 164 unread e-mail messages and 150 text messages I need to reply to!
You made God of Love as your MFA project at NYU. Have you gotten a grade yet on the film?
Well, it was pass/fail and I passed. But I have to say, the NYU community was always very supportive of the film. My films have a somewhat breezier style than a lot of the other films that get made there — the other ones tend to be a bit more serious. But everybody’s been incredibly supportive and helpful.
We at Vulture were big fans of your earlier film Earano.
I know! I can recite that review word for word! It was the first good review I ever got.