Chris Rock doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who gets nervous before he goes out to perform. If he did, though, he might want to heed a piece of advice from former Oscars host Hugh Jackman: Don’t look too closely at the stage manager.
Jackman, who presided over the show in 2009, said he was cool as a cucumber for most of the run-up to the telecast. He didn’t feel anxious at all -- not through rehearsals, not that morning, not even the time spent in hair and makeup before the show began.
Then something -- or someone -- kicked in.
“I wasn’t scared until right about 30 seconds before airtime,” Jackman recalled to the Los Angeles Times earlier this week.
“And then I see Valdez [Flagg], who’s been the Oscars stage manager I think for more than 25 years. And I’m standing there in the wings and I look up and Valdez is giving me a countdown. Everything just slowed down, and I felt slightly nauseous. He goes ‘Ten seconds. Oh, and there are only a billion people watching you.’” Jackman laughed. “If you look at the tape of me entering you can still see me looking back into the wings.”
After hosting the 2016 Emmys, Jimmy Kimmel will make his debut as host of the 2017 Academy Awards. In addition to his previous awards show experience, Kimmel has hosted the annual “Jimmy Kimmel Live: After the Oscars” special for years.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times; Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times; ABC ; Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
In his second time hosting, Chris Rock addressed the #OscarsSoWhite controversy during the telecast of the 88th Academy Awards on Feb. 28, 2016 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
After multiple stints hosting the Tonys and the Emmys, Neil Patrick Harris was a natural choice to lead the festivities at the 87th Academy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
The Chairman of the Board hosted the 35th Oscar telecast in 1963 and co-hosted the 47th awards with Hope, Sammy Davis Jr. and Shirley MacLaine in 1975. He almost didn’t make it to his first hosting gig in 1963 after forgetting his parking sticker and getting turned away by parking lot security.(William P. Gottlieb / © William P. Gottlieb. Library o)
Rock, of course, has hosted before -- a controversial appearance in 2005 -- and made his bones as a stand-up comedian. So he may not get those butterflies in the same way, no matter how many eyes are on him -- or how tricky the task of playing both to the room and the TV audience in these diversity-charged times.
But he might nonetheless appreciate a thought from Jackman, who himself received some advice from a past host before he went on.
“Steve Martin told me the first 45 minutes is the best audience you’ll ever have. And then the room starts filling up with losers, so just hurry up and get to the end.’
Jackman, who coincidentally has a new movie opening Oscar weekend -- the feel-good sports tale “Eddie the Eagle” -- has been working the road circuit himself on behalf of the movie, criss-crossing the country to promote the film. (He did the same for “Pan” in the fall.)
The actor said he did, however, have time to catch up with a number of Oscar movies. And there was one clear standout in his mind.
“‘Spotlight,’” he said, referring to Tom McCarthy’s journalistic procedural about the Catholic church sex-abuse scandal. “I don’t know if that’s the film that will win. But I think that’s the film that deserves to win.”