Helen Hunt's rise to fame on Mad About You was a blessing in infinite ways for her, but in the grander scheme, it was a curse for her film career due to the divide between the two factions of entertainment. However, with the help of a softening of the divide, Hunt defied the odds and won her first Oscar in 1998 for As Good as It Gets.
While Hunt had been honored with a number of Emmys and Golden Globes for her breakout TV role, she had yet to be recognized by awards ceremonies for her films. As she notes in the flashback, the culture within the industry discouraged TV actors from being appreciated in film.
However, that changed in 1998 when Hunt was divvied a nomination for the popular drama in which she starred alongside Jack Nicholson. Against a tough group of nominees in her category that included Kate Winslet (Titanic), Julie Christie (Afterglow), Helena Bonham Carter (The Wings of the Dove), and Judi Dench (Mrs. Brown), Hunt's odds were miniscule.
Nevertheless, she prevailed and won her first Oscar that year to match her co-star Nicholson's Best Actor award. Although she mentioned in her acceptance speech that she thought highly of the other nominees' work, Hunt wasn't thrilled to speculate if she was deserving of the award.
"I just thought [Judi Dench] was magnificent, and I saw all the other four women's performances and I thought they were all incredible," she says, then asked directly if she thought she wasn't as deserving as the others.
"Goodness gracious. Well, no, I wasn't, but I'll think about it now," she says with a sarcastic gesture.
Receiving an Oscar on her first nomination, Hunt aspires for that moment not to be described by the film title for which she won the award.