After an Oscars ceremony filled with gags, Moonlight star Naomie Harris tells PEOPLE she at first thought the film's upset win for Best Picture was another joke
“It is really surreal,” Harris explained at the Governor’s Ball after the ceremony wrapped on Sunday night. “I went up on stage with this weird expression on my face like, ‘What is happening?’ “
She added, laughing, “I don’t know what I’m going to look like onscreen.”
In perhaps the most public mistake in the Academy’s history, La La Land was incorrectly named the winner by presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, who apparently had been given the card for a different award (which referred to La La Land star Emma Stone).
The mix-up was only fixed after the musical’s cast and crew had taken the stage in a celebratory group and begun their acceptance speech, followed by a second speech for Moonlight.
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“I started shaking,” Harris, 40, says of being at the center of the confusion. “I thought, Is this a prank or something? There were so many great moments in the show that were comedic moments — like is this another one? What’s happening? And then I was just like, ;Oh god, we’ve got to process.’ “
It was a “very awkward moment,” she says. “But it turned out alright, and we are very happy.”
Indeed, flub aside, Harris says she is thrilled by such a big victory.
“It’s a shame it happened like that in a way, because it was such a beautiful moment,” she says. “What is important is that we won and it’s a huge honor and we are totally and utterly thrilled. And we are going to celebrate big-time tonight.”
• Reporting by MELODY CHIU and MIA McNIECE