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Too good to be true? Glenn Close doing ‘Da Butt’ at the Oscars was planned — sort of

Glenn Close smiling in a sparkly purple dress
“Hillbilly Elegy” star Glenn Close attends the 93rd Academy Awards at L.A.'s Union Station.
(ABC)

No ifs, ands or butts about it: Glenn Close stole the Oscars by dropping some next-level “School Daze” knowledge and busting a move to Experience Unlimited’s “Da Butt” in front of her fellow nominees.

But — and there is a but — was the screen icon’s crowd-pleasing dance break planned in advance?

Yes and no, according to actor Lil Rel Howery, who played a key part in the water-cooler moment during Sunday’s telecast on ABC.

While playing a game of “name that song” during an unexpected break in the night’s proceedings, Howery turned the spotlight on “Hillbilly Elegy” star Close, who floored the crowd — and the internet — with her bootylicious dance moves.

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The Los Angeles Times confirmed Sunday that Close’s twerk-tastic performance was part of a coordinated bit designed for laughs. It worked, as evidenced by Twitter users who promptly lost their minds:

“I did not have Glenn close doing da butt on my Oscar bingo card but here we are,” tweeted author Roxane Gay.

“Glenn Close just won her first Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film,” joked Entertainment Weekly reporter Joey Nolfi.

But both Howery and a rep for Close have since clarified that the dance portion of the endearing encounter was not rehearsed, despite the 74-year-old actress being tipped off about “Da Butt” and clearly doing her research ahead of time.

“I didn’t know she knew all [those ‘School Daze’ facts], first of all,” Howery told actors Andrew Rannells and Colman Domingo during the Oscars’ after-show. “Also, she did the dance. I was like, ‘Well, Rel, if you could convince her to do it, see if she would do it.’ I was like, I’mma ask her to do ‘Da Butt,’ and she got up and did it.”

Meanwhile, ABC executive Rob Mills told Variety that Close’s booty boogie “was certainly something nobody expected” and posited that if “Close had not heard ‘Da Butt’ before this, she knew it when Lil Rel asked her about it.”

“I mean, that was not in any rehearsal of it or anything,” Mills told Variety. “I think that ... shows that she’s sort of game for anything.”

Washington D.C. go-go legend Gregory ‘Sugar Bear’ Elliot turned on his TV just in time to catch Glenn Close do ‘Da Butt’ at the Oscars: ‘She did a great job.’

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For the lighthearted segment, Howery gave a handful of nominees a chance to identify a random tune from a film soundtrack — selected by Oscars DJ Questlove — and guess whether it scored an Oscar nomination or win the year it was released.

During her turn in the hot seat, Close stunned the room by correctly identifying Experience Unlimited’s “Da Butt” from director Spike Lee’s 1988 film “School Daze,” which did not receive a nomination. But that was nothing compared to what came next: When asked by Howery if she knew “Da Butt” dance, Close didn’t miss a beat before rising from her chair and shaking her booty on live television.

The Times later caught up with E.U. frontman Sugar Bear, who was pleasantly surprised by the homage from the “great actress” and didn’t mind that the skit wasn’t entirely organic. (He’s a fan of Close’s work in the 1987 thriller “Fatal Attraction.”)

“She did a great job,” Sugar Bear said. “A lady her age, doing Da Butt like that? Come on, man.”

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Keep up with the 93rd Academy Awards. Read our predictions and analysis, and follow our updates and takeaways from tonight’s potentially historic ceremony.

Before Close, “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” actress Andra Day correctly determined that Prince’s song “Purple Rain” did not receive an Oscar nomination when the film of the same name debuted in 1984. (The Prince question also sparked Twitter controversy, as “Purple Rain” the movie won the now-defunct Oscar category of “original song score,” which required a film to have five original songs. Some contended that meant “Purple Rain” the song did indeed win.)

After some witty banter about their Oscar-winning 2017 film, “Get Out,” Howery also challenged “Judas and the Black Messiah” actor Daniel Kaluuya, who mistakenly guessed that Donna Summer’s “Last Dance” from the 1978 film “Thank God It’s Friday” was not nominated. (It won.)

Ahead of this year’s ceremony, Close landed a surprise supporting actress nomination for her turn as Mamaw in Netflix’s critically panned drama “Hillbilly Elegy.” (She also scored a Razzie nomination for the same performance.) Close left empty-handed Sunday night, tying a record for most nominated actor without a win.

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See more reactions to her booty-popping display below.

Times staff writer Amy Kaufman contributed to this story.


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