Private moments lived in public: On Oscars’ red carpet, in the lobby

Eddie Redmayne and Cate Blanchett
A moment foretold. Eddie Redmayne and Cate Blanchett embrace on the red carpet. Hours later, Blanchett, last year’s lead actress recipient, would hand the exuberant Redmayne his lead actor Oscar for portraying Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything.”
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

A heavy rainstorm forced stars to walk the Oscars red carpet under a tent, but the stormy weather couldn’t dampen spirits as Hollywood turned out for the biggest night on the movie industry’s annual calendar. For the stars who gathered to celebrate at the Dolby Theatre, everything was awesome (unless, of course, they lost). Here are a few moments from behind the scenes:

‘I feel more in control’

Reese Witherspoon was all smiles as she stopped to chat on the red carpet. The best actress nominee for “Wild,” a film she also produced, said that at this stage in her career, her priorities have changed. “It’s about creating strong women’s roles in his wonderful industry,” she said, placing a hand affectionately on a reporter’s shoulder. “I feel more in control of my destiny.”

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‘Always room for more’

Planned protests over the lack of diversity among this year’s acting nominees were canceled at the request of “Selma” director Ava DuVernay. Still, the topic wasn’t far from people’s minds — indeed, Harris’ first joke of the night was a crack about celebrating Hollywood’s “best and whitest.”

On the red carpet, Lupita Nyong’o, last year’s supporting actress winner for “12 Years a Slave,” said the industry still had work to do to represent minorities on screen.

“You know, we’ve come a long way,” she said. “But there’s always room for more.”


‘I’m fine’

Early in the show, “Birdman” director Alejandro G. Iñárritu was lingering in the lobby with his wife, reclining on a table while downing a glass of champagne. Asked if he was seeking some liquid courage for the upcoming director prize, he shook his head. “I’m fine,” he said coolly.

‘Beautiful time of my life’

After claiming the best supporting actor award for his ferocious turn in “Whiplash,” J.K. Simmons reflected backstage on his long journey from unknown theater actor to Oscar winner.

He waxed nostalgic about his early days. “The lean times were a wonderful, beautiful time of my life, struggling for many years in regional theater all over the country for not much money,” he said. “I look back on those times with great fondness.”

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Another thing Simmons looks back on fondly as he comes to the end of a long and draining awards season? Feeling rested.

“In lean times, you get plenty of sleep and you’re not flying around everywhere,” he said dryly.


Oprah, fan magnet

Midway through the ceremony, “Selma” producer Oprah Winfrey grabbed a drink from the bar and quickly ran to a secluded corner to sip while watching the show on a television broadcasting it into the lobby. But her moment of solitude didn’t last long. Several young women quickly approached to ask for a photo.

As soon as they were gone, another man arrived: “I want to thank you for ‘Selma’ — I don’t know what else to say,” he said. She shook his hand and thanked him, then flashed someone who appeared to be her security guard a distressed glance. He promptly came to whisk her away.

Look: It’s Sean Douglas!

During a break, Michael Keaton, a best actor nominee for “Birdman,” went to the bar with his son, Sean Douglas. The two did a shot together, but Keaton couldn’t finish his and poured it into a glass of water.

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Douglas became a bit of a viral sensation after the Golden Globes, when a handful of outlets noticed him in the crowd with his dad. “It was crazy,” Douglas said. “I mean, I was just there to support my dad.”

Then Keaton, bursting with energy, pulled him away and back into the theater.


‘The patron saint’

Backstage after winning the supporting actress award for “Boyhood,” Patricia Arquette said she didn’t see Meryl Streep’s enthusiastic “You go girl!” reaction to her impassioned call for equal pay for women in her acceptance speech, but she had heard about it.

“I hugged her afterward,” Arquette said. “She’s the queen of all actresses, the patron saint of all actresses.”

Times staff writers Christie D’Zurilla, Rebecca Keegan and Josh Rottenberg contributed to this report.