Patty Jenkins, Daniel Kaluuya, and Aaron Sorkin on Making an Impact in Hollywood (Exclusive)


"It's any filmmaker's dream to have an impact on the art form that they work in -- and I hope that I do with everything that I do -- and I so appreciate being honored in any way for that," Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins told ET before she was awarded the Creative Impact in Directing award for her blockbuster superhero film.  

Jenkins was the first female director to receive the award, given by Variety during their annual “10 Directors to Watch” event. Unsurprisingly, this is not the first "first" in her field for Jenkins. 

"It's definitely a huge deal to realize that people haven't been honoring other kinds of directors," she acknowledged. "I think I wasn't even thinking about it much coming up in my career, but now that I see it I'm hugely honored to be a part of changing that conversation." 

The director, also known for her work on 2003’s Monster (which earned Charlize Theron an Oscar), created a bona fide juggernaut this year with the DC superhero film -- which has earned critical praise and over $820 million worldwide. While the box office numbers have been staggering, the film's role in the conversation about gender equality and its effect on little girls everywhere, have been hallmarks. Jenkins was presented her award by Wonder Woman herself, Gal Gadot. 

"She is the first woman to ever receive [the award], but if she has her way, she won't be the last," Gadot said about her director, adding that Jenkins makes “everything she touches brighter.”

Jenkins was not the only artist feted at the ceremony. Get Out actor Daniel Kaluuya was honored with the Creative Impact in Acting award, while West Wing creator and Molly's Game writer and director Aaron Sorkin took home the Creative Impact in Screenwriting Award at the event at the Parker Palm Springs, hosted by Variety and sponsored by Cadillac. The Creative Impact Awards and “10 Directors to Watch” brunch are presented as part of the 29th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival. 

Molly’s Game star Jessica Chastain followed up her powerful speech at the PSIFF gala -- where she promised that “major change is coming” to Hollywood -- by celebrating Sorkin. She admitted that she was "thrilled" to collaborate with him, but nervous to have to write something about "one of our greatest wordsmiths." In his acceptance speech, Sorkin nodded to Chastain’s strong words the night before and pledged his support, saying that he was proud to get behind any movement she was at the forefront of.

"Having Jessica hand me this award is phenomenal to me," Sorkin gushed to ET about his leading lady. "A few years ago, I saw Jessica across a room at a party and I thought, 'I'm never going to get to work with Jessica Chastain. I'm probably never going to meet Jessica Chastain.' So to have done a movie with her, she's a great partner on the set." 

Of his award and impact in the industry, Sorkin said, "Honestly, I just wanted to be a professional writer. I just want to be able to pay my bills by writing, so all of this is beyond my wildest dreams. To have anyone outside my immediate family recognize my work is really something."

Kaluuya shared Sorkin's feelings about being honored, telling ET, “It's a bit mental. It's a bit crazy. It's so surreal.” 

”I'm just really happy for [Get Out director] Jordan [Peele] and everyone a part of it that we've done something that's really standing the test of time, clearly,” Kaluuya explained about the lasting cultural impact of the film. In fact, Get Out debuted nearly a year ago, hitting theaters on Oscar Weekend 2017, and the star marveled at the fact that the film is still being talked about – now as a potential contender for its own Oscar for Best Picture. Among other critical recognitions and award nominations, Kaluuya is in the running for his first Golden Globe award.  

“I’m just trying to enjoy it. You don’t want to be anxious, panicky,” he shared of how he’s handling all of the praise. “We’ve worked hard. [Filming Get Out] was a 23-day shoot, [and] we’re still here, let's celebrate what we've done. You know what I mean? This will probably be the last time [the cast] will all be in the same room for a while.” 

Kaluuya was presented this award by Peele, who made the audience laugh with his impression of the young British actor. While Peele celebrated Kaluuya's work, noting his soulful performance and how the actor somehow was able to make that single tear roll down his face each take of the now-infamous 'Sunken Place' scene, Kaluuya simply thanked his helmer for giving him a chance, explaining that his belief "meant the world to him."

As for what it means that his work has made this kind of impact, he laughed, "It means that my mom can get off my back about going to Uni." 

For more of ET's coverage of the 2018 Palm Springs International Film Festival, check out the video below! 

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