It’s been two months since the 2017 Oscars, and Faye Dunaway admits that the jaw-dropping moment when she and Warren Beatty mistakenly announced the wrong winner for Best Picture remains very much on her mind.
The 76-year-old actress broke her silence with NBC’s Lester Holt on NBC Nightly News Monday, explaining that she felt “very guilty” about the incident. She added in another clip of her interview that aired Tuesday morning on Today that she’s not yet over what happened.
“It’s a moment I still have not recovered from,” she said, telling Holt that it’s still too soon to laugh about it.
Oscar viewers watched Beatty and Dunaway mistakenly announce Damien Chazelle’s La La Land as the Best Picture winner in February — before the show’s production team stepped in to correct the mistake and pass the award to Barry Jenkins’ powerful coming-of-age story, Moonlight, after they were alerted to the mistake by PriceWaterhouseCoopers executives who erroneously passed the wrong envelope to Beatty.
Beatty, who looked confused when he opened the wrong envelope, passed the piece of paper to Dunaway — making her the one who actually said “La La Land.” While many on the Internet joked that Beatty had thrown Dunaway under the bus, she said that was always their plan.
“We had planned to come on stage, do some banter, see the film clips, and then Warren was supposed to open the envelope and then for suspense, pass me the card to read the winner,” she said. “We’d rehearsed the whole thing.”
The rehearsal went as planned — except the look of confusion that hit Beatty’s face. At first, Dunaway thought he was joking.
“Warren opened the envelope, took the card out, and didn’t speak,” she said. “He looked around, looked over me, looked inside the envelope again hoping he would find another card there. Time is ticking by. He’s charming, he makes you wait, he’s just the best in all those ways. But the show is going late. I tried to tell him, come on and get on with it. And I read the name of the film on the card. And it was the wrong name.”
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Looking back, Dunaway said she was “completely stunned” in the moment.
“You don’t know what has happened,” she explained. “I was very guilty. I thought I could have done something, surely. Why didn’t I see Emma Stone’s name on the top of the card?”
The pressure, it seems, made Dunaway freeze.
“Something about that moment, in front of the entire world, all those lights, all artistry — just combined to make us both not able to perform what normally one would perform,” she said. “Normally you’d say, ‘This is the wrong card.’ But it didn’t happen that way.”
Today airs weekdays (beginning at 7 a.m.) on NBC.