Q&A: Oscar Winner Luke Matheny, the Film Student Who Showed Up Colin Firth

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You’d probably never heard of Luke Matheny before last Sunday’s Academy Awards. But after the show, everyone was buzzing about the big-haired New York University film student who won the Oscar for Best Short Film (Live Action).

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Matheny’s charming and unfiltered acceptance speech made it one of the night’s best moments. A more collected Matheny talked to NewsFeed to talk about his Oscar night and what’s ahead for the 35-year-old filmmaker.

Congratulations on your Oscar, Luke. Tell us about that moment. You had a speech ready, but was the win a surprise?

I had that speech ready because the Academy urged every single nominee to memorize a speech. I think I was the only nominee that was nerdy enough to actually observe the directions. Plus they were very strict about this 45-second rule, so I’d been practicing it and saying it as fast as I could. I listened to the recording for the first time today and I really am, like, caffeinated for it. But yeah, it was absolutely a surprise. I mean, I would have to be delusionally egotistical to think I had it in the bag.

You met lots of celebrities at the parties after the ceremony. Was there one person who stuck out?

Tom Hanks. What was strange is, I’m used to not making eye contact with celebrities I recognize so as not to freak them out, but this was an extraordinarily bizzaro night where a lot of the celebrities recognized me from the telecast. So I walked in to the Vanity Fair party and Tarantino came up to me and shook my hand. But Tom Hanks was always a big hero for me and Joe Versus the Volcano (1994) is a movie I’m a staunch defender of. I have an 8-foot tall poster of it in my room. And when I told him that, he reacted with a wonderful mixture of flattery and confusion. But he couldn’t have been nicer.

Is it true the Oscar is going to live with your mom?

That is true. It’s up here for now… so we’ve got to figure out a way for her to get it. She’s in Florida.

You gave such a nice tribute to Sasha (Gordon, Matheny’s girlfriend and God of Love‘s composer) in your speech. Did you stick her with an arrow to get her to fall for you? [Matheny’s character in the film receives love-inducing darts, which he throws on unsuspecting women]

(Laughs) Sometimes it feels that way—that’s how lucky I feel. So certainly…and that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

What’s next for you?

Working on this feature script and getting it as good as I can.

What’s it called? And when do you expect to finish?

Ron Quixote. And as soon as I can.

You talked about iTunes in your acceptance speech, too. How have digital platforms changed your filmmaking?

You make a number of films at NYU [Matheny graduated from the graduate film program in 2010], and the only one I shot on film was my first project in the first year of school. And I certainly salute the film die-hards because it is an irreplaceable cinematic format. But, let’s face it, it’s going to be a lot easier to see movies on iTunes. It’s funny to win this award for a short right when I’m trying to get my feature career going. And also when it seems like short films are on the rise. Although I don’t plan to do another one.

You were a journalist during your undergraduate years at Northwestern University. Have I forgotten to ask anything as a reporter?

I’ve been interviewed several times, and the thing which no one seems to care about, and what I think is remarkable is—name any year from 1927 to present. Just go ahead.


Best picture was Platoon. I have all the best pictures committed to memory. Just throw out another year.

That was How Green Was My Valley over Citizen Kane.

We actually just rounded up the biggest Best Picture Oscar snubs. What’s your pick?

Well, Citizen Kane in 1941 is a big one. And not necessarily in my opinion but more historically, Ordinary People over Raging Bull. Dances With Wolves over Goodfellas was a big one too.

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