Whether they say it out loud or not, every actor wants to win an Oscar. It’s the top level in the industry and the major leagues on crack. It’s the big time. Not to mention it looks glam AF.
Now…I’m not about to ruin your hopes and dreams here. BUT I think it’s my job to debunk some actor myths and make everything a little less “shiny and unattainable”. So let’s talk about what The Oscars is actually like.
I was lucky to have two very different perspectives shared with me and I’m glad to share them with you. One is Graham, who attended as a guest of a non-actor. The other is an actress (Lauren Sweetser) who attended when the film Winter’s Bone was up for several awards in 2010. These are super parred down, obviously they both had an amazing time…but let’s hit on some highlights.
I attended an Oscars ceremony as a guest of my dad, who had been nominated for “Best Visual Effects.” This was 2002 or 2003; I don’t remember precisely. All in all, the Oscars are fun, though your eyes get opened to certain realities when attending the show in person.
Keep in mind, there are STARS and NOMINEES , and then there are GUESTS with tickets. Like me. And while we all walk the same Red Carpet to enter, the STARS and NOMINEES are quickly separated from the GUESTS once inside the theater. Not that it should be any different; this night is for them, after all. I’m just saying that holding a ticket doesn’t mean you are suddenly rubbing elbows with Hollywood’s elite. In fact, prior to start of show, STARS and NOMINEES are corralled into one bar area, and GUESTS are sent up to a mezzanine bar overlooking it. Like an observation deck where you can gaze down and dream of one day “make it to the lower level bar on Oscar night.” Again, not suggesting it should be otherwise; just telling it how it is.
Soon, everybody heads to their assigned seats, which is the moment you truly realize THIS IS A SHOW. For broadcast. For advertising dollars. And yes, for statuettes, too. In between the actual award segments, there is constant direction over the sound system: “Coming back from commercial! Energy, people! Applause! Look alive!” The lights in the theater come on during these breaks, and the atmosphere relaxes considerably, as if the whole thing is a performance, which it is!
The romance, prestige, and soft glow that you see on TV is manufactured for TV. That was my experience, anyway, as a GUEST. For STARS and NOMINEES, I’m sure it’s very different; George Clooney stated that Oscar night is how he envisioned Hollywood before he actually arrived. So maybe I’m the jerk.
Let’s start out by saying I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t have a stylist. I found my dress at Nordstrom’s. I loved it, but it was satin so after the car ride there I was so wrinkled. No one would ever think about that but it’s dumb stuff like that that matters for these things. I hired my own hair and makeup (and paid out of my own pocket).
I walked the carpet with one of the producers and our line producer, which was really cool. It did feel a little long, but it’s like, “oh my god, this is THE Oscars!”. An interesting thing is that the way the photos look are so different than they look in person. The colors are totally different! They’re almost more vibrant on TV.
I did have a moment where I pretty much died, when some one tapped me on the shoulder and I turned about and there is the stunning blonde amazon-woman, turns out it was Cate Blanchett and she wanted to talk to ME about my movie. Like, what?? Dead in a coffin.
As for the show itself, it’s very long. You kinda get that itchy-butt syndrome…but at the same time you can’t stop thinking, “I still can’t believe this, how did I get here, I’m at the Oscars, will this happen again, this is incredible, etc.” Another fun thing, I was there the year James Franco and Ann Hathaway hosted and during commercial breaks (because there are a lot of those, definitely a “made for TV” ceremony) they handed out snacks to the celebs in the front rows. That’s something no one tells you, it’s so long and everyone is so hungry that the pros bring snacks. I was not prepared for that. In fact after it was over I skipped the parties and went across the street to eat a burger and then went home. I was so exhausted from the experience. Hilariously I got food poisoning from that burger…not so glamorous I guess.