Oscars 2014: Pizza guy Ellen DeGeneres welcomed: ‘I was shocked’
When Edgar Martirosyan showed up at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday with a stack of pizza boxes in hand, he thought he was delivering a few pies to some hardworking Oscar staffers.
But Martirosyan, co-owner of Big Mama’s and Papa’s Pizzeria on Sunset Boulevard, soon found himself being led onto the Oscar stage by host Ellen DeGeneres. With 43 million viewers watching at home, he was instructed to hand out slices to some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, including Julia Roberts and Jared Leto.
“I was shocked,” Martirosyan said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. “When I realized I was onstage, I didn’t understand what was going on. Like, ‘What am I doing here?’ ”
The 30-year-old’s journey to Hollywood & Highland began Saturday, he said, when he received a call from an Oscar staffer asking whether he would be able to handle a delivery to the Dolby the following day. He was told he’d be getting the order after 5 p.m. Sunday.
When Sunday evening rolled around, Martirosyan was slammed. He doesn’t usually deliver pizzas himself -- that stopped five years ago, when he went from an employee to co-owner of the Hollywood outpost of the pizzeria. But because of how busy it was, he decided to help out and drive over to the Dolby himself.
Even though he had to pass through a number of security barriers, he never imagined he would end up as part of the telecast.
“They told me it was going to be for the writers,” he said.
When he finally got backstage, he was told to wait, and suddenly DeGeneres appeared. She introduced herself to him, and then the host told Martirosyan to follow her without saying where they were going. She didn’t give him any instructions on how to behave or what to say, and before he knew it he was in front of the Hollywood elite.
Born in Armenia, Martirosyan moved to Moscow at the age of 10; there, he grew up watching some Hollywood films, including Roberts’ “Pretty Woman.” Needless to say, he was starstruck when he found himself handing her a slice of cheese pizza. “She was actually more beautiful in person,” he said with a laugh.
And then, just as quickly as he’d found himself in the spotlight, he was back at work. When he walked into the pizza shop, his employees greeted him with screams. Reporters from local news outlets and paparazzi had also gathered outside the restaurant.
On Monday morning, Martirosyan filmed an interview with DeGeneres for her talk show in Burbank, while his Facebook page was covered with comments from friends congratulating him on the Oscars appearance.
Elsewhere on Facebook, Big Mama’s & Papa’s -- which has 20 locations in California -- was touting the accomplishments of the franchise owner. Referring to his journey as the “American Dream Come True!,” a post describes how Martirosyan went from delivery driver to franchise owner.
In fact, Martirosyan said, he started out even lower on the food chain at Big Mama’s -- handing out fliers on behalf of the business on the street.
“I always loved to cook and had a real interest in learning to make pizzas,” he recalled. “So I became a cook, and then a manager, and then an owner. Business wasn’t that good -- it wasn’t that clean when we came, and I’m really picky. So I started to clean everything up and grow the business.”
As for how all the attention from the Oscars will affect sales, Martirosyan said he was trying not to get ahead of himself.
“Of course, extra orders are very good,” he said. “But I’m very calm. I’m not going crazy now. I’m really chill. This is just another, regular busy day.” One in which he, ahem, reached for the pie in the sky.
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