C-3PO, ‘can you hear OK?’ -- and other things we overheard backstage at the Oscars

Girl Scouts, giggles and little gold men set the tone in the wings of the Dolby Theatre stage at the Oscars, where presenters and performers settled their nerves and celebrated their victories.

The cast of Best Picture
The cast of Best Picture "Spotlight" take a selfie backstage. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Could you hear the screaming from stage right when "Spotlight" was named best picture? It came from a crowd of Oscar winners huddled around the film's writer and director, Tom McCarthy, including Alicia Vikander, Sam Smith and Brie Larson, who were waiting to be sent on stage at the close of the show.

Vikander and Larson hugged as the flashbulbs snapped. A stage manager brushed confetti out of Leonardo DiCaprio's hair.

The sexual abuse survivors who had taken the stage behind Lady Gaga screamed, "We love you, Leo!" as he high-fived them.


Brie Larson
Brie Larson (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

When Larson arrived, the survivors screamed even louder and pumped their fists. "Give us a hug!" they said to the actress, whose film, "Room," centered on a sexual abuse survivor. "Yes, yes, yes!" Larson said, rushing into their arms.

Sacha Baron Cohen
Sacha Baron Cohen (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Did Olivia Wilde look surprised by what her co-presenter, Sacha Baron Cohen, said when the two were paired together to introduce scenes from best picture nominee "The Room"? Well she was.

"I tried to warn you ahead of time," Cohen's wife, Isla Fisher, said to Wilde backstage.

"No, it was better that way," Wilde said. Behind the women, Cohen posed for photos still in character as his altar ego, Ali G.

Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Lady Gaga, barefoot and in a white suit, danced on the balls of her bare feet in the stage right wings as she waited to sing "Til it Happens to You."

After performing, Gaga ran off the stage, down a hallway and around a corner to change her clothes, to be in her seat before the announcement of her category, original song.

Alicia Vikander
Alicia Vikander (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

While waiting to have her microphone checked, Cate Blanchett grabbed the arm of freshly minted Oscar winner Vikander and whispered "Congratulations."

When Blanchett stepped backstage after a long, elaborate walk-and-talk onstage, Jennifer Garner said, "How about that walk!" Garner soon realized that her co-presenter, Benicio del Toro, was standing on her dress. "You had one job to do!" Garner said to del Toro with a laugh, as del Toro grimaced and stepped aside.

Then Tina Fey and Steve Carell returned from presenting their category and Fey looked up at the monitor to see the very telegenic Margot Robbie and Jared Leto presenting. "How are we still on screen?" Fey asked Carell.

Kevin Hart
Kevin Hart (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Many presenters probably wish they had the sort of support the Girl Scouts enjoyed backstage.

"Girls, too many questions," their troop leader said as the girls wondered about their upcoming onscreen moment, when Chris Rock asked the celebrity crowd to buy their cookies. "Just walk out there. Ladies, serenity, serenity! Smile!"

Kevin Hart was laughing his head off at Rock's Girl Scout moment as he waited to take the stage. "All right, guys, we're going completely off book," Hart said to the crew before he introduced the Weeknd's performance. "Get ready!"

By all accounts he did: Hart had not delivered his onstage comments about actors of color at Oscar rehearsals. When the comic returned from the stage, he shared a warm hug with show producer Reginald Hudlin.

R2D2 and C3PO
R2D2 and C3PO (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

There was palpable enthusiasm when R2-D2, C-3PO and BB-8 arrived backstage. "What do you think, R2? It has been a long time, hasn't it?" C-3PO said, resting his hand on his beeping companion as the droid duo waited to take the stage. "Well, it's good to be with you." Behind them a man operated R2 by remote control, while a woman whispered to C-3PO, "Can you hear OK?"

As the droids rolled and wobbled back from the stage, C-3PO declared the experience "terribly exciting!"

Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy accept the award for Original Screenplay for
Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy accept the award for Original Screenplay for "Spotlight." (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

During the first commercial break, it was a mix of celebration and nerves in the stage wings.

"That's pretty cool!" Tom McCarthy said as he stepped backstage, holding his trophy aloft, while Sam Smith, who was waiting to perform, did some vocalization exercises.

Sarah Silverman shouted "Feel the Bern!" during Adam McKay's anti-big money speech, and she shared a hug with the "Big Short" director when he stepped backstage with his trophy. "Hey, hey, watch the hair!" Silverman said, turning to review her script.