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From little Sunny Pawar, to Jackie Chan's panda pals – here are the behind-the-scene moments you need to read all about

By Lindsay Kimble and Elizabeth Leonard
February 27, 2017 12:31 AM
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Credit: Lizz Leonard

While you were tuned in to Jimmy Kimmel‘s hosting antics at the 2017 Academy Awards on Sunday, PEOPLE was watching for the action off-camera, backstage and on the unseen nooks and crannies of the red carpet.

From run-ins between celebrity exes, to supportive co-stars and secret snacking, here’s what we saw that you didn’t.

On the Red Carpet

Rogue One star Felicity Jones was an early arrival on the red carpet, waving literally her entire way toward the theater and giving fans a thumbs-up.

Jackie Chan was also feeling the fan love, with the crowd chanting his name as he walking by with his stuffed panda bear toys. The Night Of star Riz Ahmed later got in on the panda love, too, running over to talk to Chan before grabbing one of the stuffed animals for a photo.

Also enthralled by the presence of the furry faux critters? Taraji P. Henson and Lion‘s Sunny Pawar, who was all smiles when he met Chan and the pandas. Pawar, 8, was the toast of the carpet, with everyone he passed crouching down for a chat.

Watch the PEOPLE & EW Red Carpet Live Oscars pre-show on Feb. 26 at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT on the People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). Go to PEOPLE.com/PEN, or download the app on your favorite device. Then watch our Red Carpet Fashion Wrap-Up after the Oscars!

The men of Moonlight (a.k.a. little, teen and adult Chiron) met up on the carpet, dancing together and hugging each other ahead of the ceremony.

Elsewhere, Captain Fantastic star and Best Actor nominee Viggo Mortensen lead the crowd in a call and response from his movie, chanting, “Power to the people!” and “Stick it to the man!”

Check out PEOPLE’s full 2017 Academy Awards coverage and complete winners list!

The crowd exploded for nominee Justin Timberlake and wife Jessica Biel. The entertainer took advantage of the moment, conducting them with his hands to simmer down or scream louder.

RELATED VIDEO: Sunny Pawar Leads Cutest Kids on Oscars Red Carpet

“I don’t know where I’m going!” said a smiling Hailee Steinfeld as she made her way down the packed carpet.

Host Jimmy Kimmel‘s mother couldn’t be prouder, gushing, “This is so exciting! You know I’m from Brooklyn. This is the Academy Awards!”

Meryl Streep easily received the loudest cheers as she arrived, doing a total 360-degree turn as she graced the carpet in her custom Elie Saab Haute Couture.

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Credit: Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

Lea Michele skipped press with Brad Goreski on her arm, and got inside the tent before being stopped by a male fan who asked, “Can I get a picture? I’ve been a fan since the beginning.”

It took a moment before Michele and stylist Goreski realized that the fan was talking to Goreski. Michele said, “Yes, let me take it for you.” She then orchestrated a fan photo shoot in front of a giant pot of purple flowers.

At one point during the show, Vince Vaughn and Jeremy Renner took a break in the green room and when Renner FaceTimed his daughter, Vaughn joined in and said hi to the little girl.

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Backstage

With 90 minutes to go before showtime, backstage was humming – in part because of all the cupcakes, Milk Duds and coffee available.

As John Legend, holding hands with wife Chrissy Teigen, breezed through the hallway backstage, he was asked where they’d like to go. “Straight to the green room!” said Legend, who performed a medley from La La Land during the show.

Less than an hour before show time, backstage was organized chaos as a steady stream of glamorous celebrities breezed down hallways, weaving past production crew, and between a makeshift glam station and the green room. Alicia Vikander walked by, while Lucas Hedges leaned against a wall beside a “Quiet Please” sign.

50 Shades star Dakota Johnson stepped out of the unisex backstage bathroom, and declared, “Good god, that was so gnarly!”

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Credit: Andrew H. Walker/REX/Shutterstock

Matt Damon, with wife Lucy, spotted Legend and said, “Good luck tonight, man!” As Damon stepped in the green room, Faye Dunaway beelined it to Streep. “Hi Meryl, I’m Faye! I admire you so much,” she said. Streep responded, “I admire you too!”

“Nailed it!” someone yelled as Timberlake walked by the backstage hallway after his performance of “Can’t Stop the Feeling.” Timberlake smiled and made his way back to his seat. Just then, Lin Manuel-Miranda arrived backstage to prepare to introduce the Moana song nomination, and the upbeat Hidden Figures trio Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae and Henson, white wine in hand, emerged from the green room to get ready to head on stage. “Do I look greasy?!” said Henson, laughing, before a make-up assistant patted her forehead with a cloth in the wings.

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Credit: Christopher Polk/Getty

After introducing Moana star Auli’i Cravalho, Miranda ducked backstage and watched the monitor intently as the 16-year-old belted out “How Far I’ll Go.” When she sang her last note and clearly nailed the song, an exuberant Miranda yelled “Yes!! Whoooo!” and giddily clapped and cheered.

Charlize Theron and Shirley MacLaine are glued to the monitor as the Best Supporting Actress winner Viola Davis delivers her emotional acceptance speech. Meanwhile Sting walks around with his guitar strumming softly and watching Davis’s speech. Once Davis comes off stage from her win, Mark Rylance close behind, people in the wings clap and Theron gives her a kiss and little hug. Before heading to the press room, Davis does a quick interview with Kelly Ripa and takes a sip of champagne. To everyone who congratulates her backstage – and many people do – Davis says a warm and genuine “thank you”.

Before the La La Land medley, Emma Stone runs backstage to wish the La La Land dancers good luck and give a little pep talk. After presenting, Stone and Gosling run backstage to catch Legend’s performance on the monitor. Standing side by side, and next to an equally wowed Streep, the La La Land stars are enthralled, taking in the beautiful medley. At one point, Stone touches Gosling’s shoulder and gestures with amazement when the dancers are elevated against the starry, floor to ceiling backdrop.

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Credit: Lizz Leonard

When Stones’s name is read as the Best Actress winner, Brie Larson is beside herself with joy, jumping up and down and clapping. “Oh my god!” she says, looking up at the monitor. When Stone comes off-stage, she and Larson share a long embrace and both dissolve into tears. “Now I’m crying!” says Stone, dabbing her eyes with one hand and holding her Oscar in the other.

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Credit: Lizz Leonard

Inside the Show

Before the show started, Halle Berry was chatting in the front row with Busy Philips, who was Michelle Williams’ date for the evening.

Scarlett Johansson was in high spirits and kissed Andrew Garfield on the cheek, while Emma Stone was an aisle over mingling with guests before sitting down front and center.

Legend and Teigen rushed in as some of the last of the celebs to take their seats, with Legend stopping to say hello to Stone, who jumped up to greet her with a hug.

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Credit: Christopher Polk/Getty

As the lights were dimmed, signaling that the show was about to start, Stone and ex Garfield gave each other a big wave hello across the front row. Later, during a commercial break, Stone went over to say hello to Garfield, who was up for Best Actor to her Best Actress.

David Oyelowo grabbed a box of Junior Mints and popped some into his mouth after the audience was sprinkled with falling candy bags.

During another commercial break, Kimmel went into the audience. He stopped to chat with Jeff Bridges and also said hi to Teigen, Miranda and his mom while getting ready for his next bit.

Affleck passed a parachute of donuts and cookies to Salma Hayek. Across the theater, Timberlake downed cookies while chatting with Oscar winner Justin Hurwitz.

At the Parties

After the dramatic Best Picture mix-up, Stone arrived at the Governors Ball clutching her acting Oscar, and was immediately swarmed by well-wishers. The star looked like she was having the time of her life, before heading to get her statuette engraved.

Davis was sitting down at a table to eat some dessert and blowing kisses to everyone congratulating her on her win.

BFFs Williams and Phillips head to the Amazon after party held at L.A. hotspot Delilah, where Best Actor winner and Manchester by the Sea star Casey Affleck was met with applause and cheers, and could barely make his way through.

At the Vanity Fair party, Kirsten Dunst and fiancé Jesse Plemons walked in holding hands, as did performer Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel. Timberlake gave Best Supporting Actor winner Mahershala Ali a huge hug and congratulated him. Other couple sightings at the party included Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux, who spent the night by each other’s side and posed for photos in the Mark Seliger Instagram booth. The cute pair spent some time talking with Matt Damon and his wife, Luciana.

The dance floor at Vanity Fair belonged to Amy Adams, Isabelle Huppert and Rashida Jones, joined by boyfriend Ezra Koenig, as well as Heidi Klum and boyfriend Vito Schnabel. The bar shut down at 2 a.m., but guests hung out for an hour longer, enjoying vanilla milkshakes and In-N-Out burgers.

Spotted by the bar were funny guys Seth Rogen, Nick Kroll and Will Arnett, who were laughing non-stop. Rocker Mick Jagger attended with his three kids, gathering together for a photo op at one point.

In the early Monday hours, Stone arrived at Soho House where she gave her director Damien Chazelle, the night’s big winner, a big congratulatory hug.

  • With reporting by PATRICK GOMEZ, MELODY CHIU, MIA MCNIECE, J.D. HEYMAN, KARA WARNER and SAMANTHA MILLER