Among the many rituals of Oscar week — the tuxedo fitting, the speech writing, the red carpet unfurling — perhaps the most coolly efficient is Oscar rehearsals.
That's what the stars have been doing at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood since Wednesday, in preparation for Sunday's
Even as the Los Angeles Police Department shut down streets and deployed a bomb-defusing robot on a suspicious vehicle steps from the theater on Highland Avenue on Thursday afternoon (police determined there was no threat), the show-before-the show went on, with first-time Oscar host
FULL COVERAGE: Oscars 2015
The importance of a regimented practice schedule may not be self-evident, especially since some of last year's most memorable moments —
Zadan and Meron have said they're hoping for more of those kinds of moments this year, but to enable them, they need a show that runs like a well-oiled machine.
By the time practice ends Saturday evening, presenters and performers, including
Washington, who arrived Wednesday evening in blue jeans and flats with a pair of strappy heels for Sunday's show in hand, followed stage manager Gary Natoli's guidance to direct her eyes to a Steadicam operator.
"Oh, it's to the Steadi? It'll still feel like I'm projecting out, right?" Washington asked, sweeping her arms to indicate the audience inside the theater.
As a rehearsal actor delivered a very believable acceptance speech, he referenced Washington's character from
Johansson, in black jeans and clogs with a punk-rock-style shaved haircut, delivered a long introduction in her signature husky voice, gesturing, à la
"Wow, that was fantastic!" director Hamish Hamilton boomed over a PA system as Johansson nailed her delivery on the first try. "Thank you very much!"
"I guess I'll go now," Johansson said with a smile and a shrug. "Buh-bye."
When Teller, also casually dressed in jeans and a sweater, took the microphone, the "Whiplash" star gazed out over the Dolby audience, where the seats held giant, cardboard placards with the stars' faces on them. Looking out over cardboard Meryl Streep and Bradley Cooper, Teller exhaled. "I'm just soaking it all in, man," he said.
As the celebrities breezed through, a team of stage managers served as talent traffic control, speaking into headsets. "And we're walking" means, "I'm bringing that famous person you're waiting for to the stage" and "She needs to start singing by 6:15" means, "Hurry up, Lady Gaga is here."
In the stage right wings the six aspiring filmmakers known as Team Oscar practiced for one of Sunday's crucial jobs, delivering the Oscar statuettes to the presenters. The group, ranging in age from 18 to 23, won their gigs by submitting 60-second videos to an academy contest.
Beside them, dancers in sweatpants trooped through the wings carrying props for Harris' musical number, and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs waited to rehearse her Oscar night speech.
Behind the stage, workers in blue medical booties dusted the floor of the Architectural Digest greenroom, a
Next to the greenroom is a curtained area which on Oscar night will be devoted to "last looks": a process of fixing lipstick, mending torn hems, straightening bow ties. A man emerged from behind the curtain carrying one high heel. "I got it!" he shouted, to no one in particular.
Outside the theater, drills hummed and skip-loaders beeped as construction crews assembled the red carpet along Hollywood Boulevard and placed giant gold Oscar statues in the atrium of the Dolby.
Despite the police activity unfolding outside the mall, most visitors seemed oblivious.
As a young woman lined up a selfie in front of the Louis Vuitton store, a security worker stepped in. "You want me to take a picture of you with Oscar?" the worker asked.
When: 5:30 p.m. Sunday