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EW.com goes backstage at the Golden Globes

Kate Hudson, Renée Zellweger, Tom Hanks, and others share their big night

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Kate Hudson, Golden Globe Awards 2001
Kate Hudson: Kevin Winter/Image Direct

Trophy season opened Sunday night at the 58th Annual Golden Globes Awards, where the top films of a decidedly mediocre crop were honored. The favorite in her category, Julia Roberts took home the statuette for best dramatic actress for ”Erin Brockovich.” Backstage she joked that due to her low self image she was shocked by the win. ”I’m always filled with joy, but confidence is a flighty thing,” said Roberts. ”It’s kind of like PMS — it comes, it goes, you deal with it.”

Speaking of PMS, Roberts was clearly perturbed as she read the winner in the best director category where Steven Soderbergh, nominated for both ”Traffic” and ”Brockovich,” was upset by ”Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” director Ang Lee. But her reaction didn’t seem to bother Lee. His favorite thing about the awards show? ”Meeting Julia Roberts,” he said.

He jokingly thanked his wife for providing inspiration for the tough women portrayed in his film. About his next project, ”The Hulk,” Lee said, ”I see a connection with this one — another green destiny. The green guy deals with psychological repression and stuff; he turns green like the green sword.” Sure.

Meanwhile, ”Gladiator” director Ridley Scott (whose movie won for best drama) described his upcoming ”Silence of the Lambs” sequel ”Hannibal” (due out Feb. 9) as ”rather romantic and also quite humorous.” That explains the release date so close to Valentine’s Day — see it with someone whose face you want to rip off.

Perhaps Russell Crowe would’ve liked to rip the face off of Tom Hanks, who walked off with the best dramatic actor award for ”Cast Away.” Some thought Hanks, having been lavishly decorated by both the Academy and the Hollywood Foreign Press (two Oscars, four Golden Globes) in the past, would be overlooked this time. But no such luck for Crowe, about whom Hanks said: ”Russell’s going to be just fine. We don’t have to worry about Mr. Crowe. I think he’s going to be kicking people’s butts for quite some time. I’m just glad that tonight I was somehow able to dodge one of his fisticuffs.”

Best comedic actress Renée Zellweger nearly dodged a moment she’ll never forget — ”a moment I almost didn’t have,” she told the audience. Like Christine Lahti, who won best actress in a TV drama back in 1998, Zellweger found herself in the ladies room when her name was called. ”I had lipstick on my teeth,” Zellweger told the press. ”The girl was yelling in the bathroom, ‘Is Renée here?”’

”O Brother, Where Art Thou?” star George Clooney took home the award for best actor in a comedy, beating out stiff competition from Robert DeNiro and Jim Carrey. Just how daunting was it for the ”ER” hunk to step into a period comedy driven by song and dance? ”It’s a bigger risk dressing in rubber and playing Batman, believe me,” he said backstage.

In his acceptance speech, Clooney joked that the Coen brothers aren’t really brothers. (Relax, they are.) ”And I am the illegitimate love child of John Ashcroft,” he proclaimed, a line that got a smattering of polite laughter. Also taking a political turn was Martin Sheen, a winner for ”The West Wing”: ”We’re putting words on issues and making it easier for the people to debate some of the great public issues of our time. I think we are, in a sense, putting a face on bureaucracy.”

Washington also came under fire from ”Traffic” writer Stephen Gaghan for the failed war on drugs. ”You have two presidential candidates who neither one of them talked about the war on drugs the entire election,” said Gaghan, who went on to explain the inspiration for the script, a friend who overdosed three months before shooting started. ”I changed the name of the character [who overdoses] in the movie,” said Gaghan. ”I was trying to send him a message.”

Speaking of overdoses, parolee Robert Downey Jr. took home the trophy for best supporting actor in a series. On accepting the award he recalled ”Ally McBeal” producer David E. Kelley saying writing for Downey was like having a new toy. Downey assured his new boss that he wouldn’t have to be ”sent back to the factory.” Meeting the press, he delivered a statement but took no questions. “I just want to share this with my fellow parolees, er, nominees,” he joked.

Downey may have been short on rhetoric and anti- drug messages, but best supporting actress winner Kate Hudson (”Almost Famous”) had a message for teens everywhere: ”College? No. You couldn’t catch me in a classroom.” When asked if it bothered her that people compared her looks to her mother’s (Goldie Hawn), Hudson replied, ”It’s my mom — like I came out of her womb, ya know?” Director Cameron Crowe, whose ”Almost Famous” won best musical or comedy film, sweetly noted that ”seeing Kate nominated was like seeing your little sister going to the prom.”

So much for the winners, now for the losers. Elizabeth Taylor appeared at a major ceremony last night for the first time in years. She was told she would read the winner for best dramatic film and that’s precisely what she started to do. Luckily, Dick Clark rescued the moment by stepping out of the wings to remind her to name the nominees before announcing the winner. It was an odd and uncomfortable moment as the two, looking eerily young for their years, gazed at the teleprompter.

So Julia, Kate, Renée — if you’re smart, you’ll heed these words of wisdom imparted to Ms. Hudson by her Hollywood savvy mom: ”Have fun, enjoy it, and soak it in — because it comes, and everybody’s career also goes.”

More 58th Annual Golden Globes: See our complete list of winners.