What You Won't See on TV: Backstage at the Oscars with PEOPLE

The 88th ceremony is being broadcast live on ABC

Photo: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

It’s time to go backstage at the The 88th annual Academy Awards!

There was plenty of action going on behind-the-scenes at the ceremony, and PEOPLE was on the scene backstage to bring you all things seen and heard after some of Hollywood’s top talent took home Oscar gold. Check out all the action below.

9 p.m. PT

When Spotlight is named Best Picture, Oscar-winning screenwriter Josh Singer is totally floored, yelling “Oh my god!” Done with his on-stage duties, Morgan Freeman grabs a Girl Scout cookie and eats it as he walks backstage and, in a muffled, cookie-in-mouth way, says, “Congratulations” to Mark Rylance. Delighted, Rylance thanks him and then is grabbed by Moore, who introduces him to her husband Bart Freundlich. But no one is happier than the large group of young women – all sexual assault survivors who appeared onstage with Lady Gaga – who spot Dicaprio walking down the hall backstage. They yelp and cheer and high-five a smiling Leo, and one especially smitten girl says, “I’m ready to die whenever!” while fanning herself. Proclaims another survivor,” He’s so beautiful!”

Check out PEOPLE’s full Academy Awards 2016 coverage and complete winners list!

8:50 p.m. PT

“Oh my god, oh my god!” says Brie Larson as she walks backstage beaming after her win. Eddie Redmayne gives her a hug and hands her the winning envelope, as she clutches her Oscar. “I can’t believe this,” she says. “It’s crazy!”

As all the night’s winners start to gather in the wings in preparation to head on-stage for the group finale, most stop to watch the monitor and clap when Leonardio DiCaprio’s name is called. “Leo Dicap!” says Larson when his name is read. Sam Smith watches Leo’s acceptance speech with his chin resting on his Oscar statuette, and Alicia Vikander watches on the monitor. A huge smile on his face and Oscar in hand, Leo comes off stage to congratulations from those backstage, including Julianne Moore, who gives Leo a huge hug. Realizing he has to turn back around for the final group onstage bit, Leo says, “Oh right, we have to go back on” and stands close to the stage in the wings, smiling and holding his gold statuette. As Larson passes Moore, Moore gives her a hug and Larson, still giddy, says with a smile: “I’m flatlining!” With backstage impossibly packed at this point, Sam Smith, glass of champagne in hand, hugs Vikander.

8:40 p.m. PT

Wide-eyed, Sam Smith walks off stage and puts his hand over his mouth in disbelief, while holding his Oscar. Smith, truly moved, says to his songwriter Jimmy Napes, “I’m just in complete shock. In complete shock.”

8:20 p.m. PT

“Wow” mouths Olivia Wilde after watching on the monitor Lady Gaga and the dozens of abuse victims on stage. After the moving performance, those backstage clap. Once off-stage, Gaga literally sprinted through the wings, changed back into her dress and was taken back to her orchestra seat in time for her Original Song category.

8 p.m. PT

Joe Biden strolls backstage and soon after Lady Gaga suddenly appears, barefoot and upbeat, moving forward as she hops from foot to foot. As Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs walks off stage, she and Gaga cross paths and high five each other! As the In Memoriam wraps up and the show moves to commercial break, Gaga takes her seat at a white piano backstage. She plays a bit of her Oscar-nominated song “Til It Happens” on the piano and practices singing much of the song. When she’s done with the mini-backstage rehearsal, the gathered production staff claps. Poised at the white piano, Gaga on a moving platform is pushed out to the stage.

7:50 p.m. PT

After presenting, Reese Witherspoon heads backstage to look for her husband Jim Toth, who was waiting for her in the green room. Before heading out, Witherspoon hugs Winslet goodbye and, during a brief chat, tells her: “I’m turning 40!” Before she goes onstage to present, Whoopi Goldberg watches Chris Rock do his Price Waterhouse kids bit in the monitor and giggles. “I’m stuck in this dress like a sausage casing!” says Goldberg, before she makes her way to the stage.

7:20 p.m. PT

Kevin Hart has a light-hearted pow-wow with Olivia Munn in the hallway backstage. Before Munn heads out, Hart insists on showing her a video clip of himself in the audience at the Oscars, on his phone, drawing a laugh. “Hi Kevin!,” says Reese Witherspoon as the two pass in the wings during The Weeknd’s performance. “Thank you for doing this,” Oscars producer Reginald Hudlin says to Witherspoon, now standing beside her co-presenter Kate Winslet. When a glam squad person starts brushing Witherspoon’s hair for a touch-up, she says, “I might fall asleep tho if you keep doing that. I’m like a cat!”

6:55 p.m. PT

A path is cleared as R2-D2 and C-3PO zip along to get ready to head out on stage. They are soon joined by BB-8, who rolls past gathered photographers and production staff. No one has evoked as much excitement amongst the gathered backstage crew and photographers as the Star Wars droids. C-3P0 looks up at a clip of Ex Machina on the monitor and says in that computer voice of his, “Yes I like this one!” Soon, he and his fellow droids are led onto the stage to much applause.

6:45 p.m. PT

Making her way back off-stage with Benicio del Toro, Garner is all smiles and gives a thumbs up. Meanwhile in the makeshift make-up room, Jason Segal gets a quick touch-up before bumping into John Legend as he walks by. “I’m a big fan!” Segal says to Legend, as he shakes his hand. While Olivia Munn gets a make-up touch-up, presenter lines in hand, Reese Witherspoon breezes by in the hallway, Chris Evans, holding a glass of champagne, passes Munn, who says to an upbeat Evans: “I need a glass of champagne!”

6:27 p.m. PT

Cate Blanchett exits the stage and puts her arms around Garner and del Toro, still watching the monitor. Del Toro gives Blanchett a hug and Garner says she’s in awe at how Blanchett nailed the “walking and talking” thing on stage. As Garner and del Toro get ready to walk to the stage, del Toro steps on Garner’s dress. She sweetly frees her train and says playfully to him: “Now look here, you have one job to do!”

6:22 p.m. PT

After Alicia Vikander’s acceptance speech, Cate Blanchett, having her dress feathers fixed, wishes Vikander a huge “Congratulations!” as she walks by in the wings, almost in disbelief, holding her Oscar. After Vikander walks out into the hallway, Jennifer Garner and del Toro make their way backstage. A staffer touches up Garner’s under-eye makeup before she and del Toro hunker down together under the monitor to go over their lines. When Chris Rock makes a good-natured joke at Carol‘s expense (Cate Blanchett was on stage at the time), del Toro laughs out loud.

6 p.m. PT

Kerry Washington has a playful conversation with Chris Evans backstage, as they stand next to Sarah Silverman, busy working on her lines aloud and getting increasingly concerned that edits she requested have not been made. “Why do things like this always happen to me?” says Silverman. Washington turns to her and says reassuringly: “Because God knows you can handle it!”

5:50 p.m. PT

“Nailed it! Nailed it!” says Blunt, playfully victorious, as she and Theron make their way off stage having finished their presenting duties. Sam Smith, waiting in the wings, sips water and has his forehead blotted by an aide as it gets closer to his live performance. Walking off stage, Ryan Gosling says hi to Smith before the singer moves during commercial to a microphone to do a few vocal exercises. Meanwhile, Sarah Silverman practices her lines aloud.

5:30 p.m. PT

While the show’s opener starts, Charlize Theron takes a sip of water in the wings and watches on a backstage screen as she waits with Emily Blunt, whose hands are crossed under her pregnant belly … When Chris Rock takes the stage, Theron and Blunt watch the monitor closely and they never take their eyes off the screen throughout the monologue. “That’s awesome,” says Blunt at one point. “Oh my god!” says Theron, laughing at a Will Smith joke, as she holds up her red dress train.

5:25 p.m. PT

Host Chris Rock resurfaces with five minutes to go. “Hey man!” Jared Leto says to Louis CK as the two converge on the bathroom. Leto launches into a conversation about a technology project he’s working on… “10 minutes!” announces a production crew guy. Rock, in a white tux jacket, arrives and walks though backstage and yells for all to hear, “Ghost in the building! Ghost in the building!” 5:20 p.m. PT

More A-listers move through the backstage area 20 minutes before show time. “They haven’t mopped the floor!” jokes Emily Blunt after leaving the restroom. “I’m free!” says Sarah Silverman fresh from the carpet. Heavily pregnant Chrissy Teigen breathes out as she walks just in front of hubby John Legend.

Michael Strahan, about to get a crash choreography lesson, says hi to Sofia Vergara, who walks to the unisex restroom and waits for her turn. A dapper Ryan Gosling swishes by in one direction as Cate Blanchett goes the other. Basically it’s a super-duper, A-list backstage bash with stars and crew and production teams descending in one small corridor and move in some unspoken symbiotic flow. “Hydrate everybody!” yells one Academy staffer… 5 p.m. PT

It’s a half hour until showtime and backstage at the Dolby Theatre is buzzing. While some crew are enjoying the calm before the storm – one checks Facebook while another writes in a Word Search puzzle book – a selection of A-listers mill about: Priyanka Chopra ducks into the restroom, Whoopi Goldberg walks by the wings smiling and Joy Mangano, the inspiration for Jennifer Lawrence‘s character in Joy, chats with her daughter. “It’s the Oscars!” says Kerry Washington as she makes her way backstage, a few steps behind Charlize Theron.

The 88th annual Awards were presented live on ABC from the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California.

Related Articles