Some of the best moments of the night didn’t make it onto your TV screen. EW takes you behind the scenes to discover what Hugh Jackman was doing to Brad Pitt when the cameras were off, which winner had the wildest entourage, which nominee was the most freaked out, what Robert Pattinson really thinks about the Oscars, what Heidi Klum was doing in the first-aid room, and which star was secretly playing in the orchestra all night. Plus: Inside the Governors Ball. Guess which Oscar winner left in a huff?
The Red Carpet
Oscar night seemed a little touch and go even before Hugh Jackman opened the show with a dance number instead of a monologue. Despite heavy clouds that looked like rain, the Academy left the most famous red carpet on earth open to the elements, and the typically high-energy Ryan Seacrest, on the scene for E!, said he was already exhausted before the first stars showed up. If those signs weren’t ominous enough, at 2:50 p.m., the PricewaterhouseCoopers accountants arrived, flanked by security guards and carrying the winning envelopes in two briefcases. Asked what would happen if someone tried to nab a case, one bean counter replied, ”Blood on the carpet.”
”This Seems Pretty Calm”
The carpet became a much friendlier place with the arrival of the six youngest stars of Slumdog Millionaire, who huddled together and beamed amid a crush of celebrities. ”It’s like a dream!” they cheered in unison. (They all wanted to meet Johnny Depp, who, sadly, didn’t attend this year.) Anil Kapoor, who plays the game-show host in the film, said the cast wasn’t even thinking about winning: ”Today is a dream we never imagined would be fulfilled.” Later, the children swarmed Daniel Craig and Meryl Streep and asked them for their autographs. Streep hugged the two smallest boys and said, ”You are wonderful.” Star Dev Patel, seeing Kate Winslet, turned and said, ”This is sensory overload.” Twilight star Robert Pattinson, however, had certainly experienced far worse. ”This seems pretty calm,” he said. ”At Twilight premieres you literally think you’re going to die.”
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie touched down on the red carpet at 4:44 p.m., and ignited a flashbulb frenzy. Asked which of them spent more time on hairstyling, Pitt replied, ”Always me.” Penélope Cruz seemed…peaceful. ”I’ve been very nervous this last week, but today I woke up relaxed,” she said. Winslet, meanwhile, realized that she had gradually lost her cool. ”I’m apoplectic!” she said. ”I’ve been really calm until about two hours ago, and then I started to get quite scared. It’s really nerve-racking.”
”I’d Lost Hope”
Mickey Rourke, who’d delivered a hilarious, profanity-laden acceptance speech at the Independent Spirit Awards the day before, arrived in a somber mood. His beloved dog Loki had recently died, and Rourke wore pictures of the Chihuahua on his lapel and on a necklace. The actor’s long journey back from obscurity seemed to have given him perspective on the night. ”After about a decade, I’d lost hope,” he said. ”But I just kept moving forward. It was either that or…”
”It’s a Little Bittersweet”
Rain never did fall on the red carpet, but Michael Shannon, the sole actor nominated for Revolutionary Road, still seemed gloomy about being his film’s only representative. ”It’s a little bittersweet, and kind of lonely,” he said. ”I thought pretty much everybody in the film was perfect.” It was also hard for him to rouse any competitive spirit when he was honored in the same category as Heath Ledger. ”What happened is much more tragic than whether I win an Oscar or not,” he said.
The Awards Show
Jackman’s opening number played well in the Kodak, but it wasn’t long before the hubbub at the lobby bar was all about Cruz’s win for Best Supporting Actress. Cruz’s friends gathered while the actress’ sister read them text messages from her. They all posed for a photo and yelled ”Viva Penélope!” Within half an hour they had all inked the letter P on their foreheads. Across town at Sir Elton John’s annual gala at the Pacific Design Center, the host sat riveted during the speech by Dustin Lance Black, the Best Original Screenplay winner for Milk. Minutes later, at the Kodak bar, The Reader screenwriter David Hare and director Stephen Daldry were coping with losing Best Adapted Screenplay to Slumdog. ”We’re good,” Hare said. ”We don’t need a pep talk.”
Brangelina Cuts in Line
During a commercial, Jackman asked Pitt to toss him a cane at the start of an upcoming dance number. They rehearsed it just once. Heidi Klum and husband Seal slipped out to have champagne and a sandwich in the first-aid room, for no discernible reason. Inside the theater, Heath Ledger’s family, accepting his Oscar, moved the audience to tears. Later, Pitt and Jolie accidentally cut in line at the bar, then apologized profusely.
”Chocolate Chip: $3” On stage, as the show neared the two-and-a-half-hour mark, Jackman offered stars cookies during a commercial break, but joked that they had to pay $3 for a chocolate chip one. He also handed out a bit of trivia: Actor Dermot Mulroney was playing cello in the orchestra. Just after 8 p.m., at the Elton John party, a collective gasp went up as Sophia Loren took the stage to help present Best Actress.
”Let’s Get a Drink”
As the show ended, The Reader director Daldry was ecstatic about Winslet’s win. ”What a relief,” he said. ”Let’s get a drink.” At the Governors Ball, Sean Penn seemed dazed. ”I truly do not know how I feel right now,” he said. ”I didn’t anticipate winning, and I’m not entirely clear what I said.” Queen Latifah declared that she’d had ”a beautiful time.” Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award winner Jerry Lewis, meanwhile, didn’t seem to be having a beautiful time, and screamed ”Come on!” as he tried to exit the ball. But the Slumdog team wasn’t going anywhere. Danny Boyle danced at his table. Producer Christian Colson handed his Oscar to the youngest girl in the cast, Rubina Ali, and raised his glass of vodka. ”It was fantastic to have all of them on stage with me,” he said. ”It felt really f—ing great.” Pause. ”Now, can I smoke here?”