Tom Hanks, Cruz, Mahershala Ali, Idina Menzel, Mindy Kaling, Mark Ruffalo and Regina King were among those who attended rehearsals
With just one day to go before the 92nd Academy Awards, Los Angeles’ Dolby Theatre was abuzz with last-minute Oscars prep. Orange hazard-cones flanked the side-stage as production staff and crew whispered cues into head-sets, adjusted lighting, hauled trash and touched up the bold and elegant set that features 40,000 Swarovski crystals. All the while, a dazzling succession of A-list stars rehearsed lines and mastered blocking in anticipation of Hollywood’s biggest night.
“Oh s—!” said a relaxed Julia Louis-Dreyfus from center stage after being nudged by co-presenter Will Ferrell, who was casual in a Seattle Seahawks sweatshirt and sneakers, to start her line. Ferrell and Dreyfus, dressed down in jeans (but wearing heels so the mic’s height can be pre-programmed for show day), joked around, linked arms and high-fived as they walked off-stage in high spirits. At one point, Dreyfus comedically bobbled the faux-Oscar statuette she was meant to practice presenting to a “winner” stand-in actor.
Saturday featured a steady stream of stars and low-key hijinx: 1917 actor George MacKay stood in the nosebleed balcony hundreds of feet above the stage going over lines. “You guys having a good time here?!” he riffed into a mic while gesturing to an empty balcony.
Two-time Oscar winner Jane Fonda, rocking flared jeans and heels, scanned the orchestra section and marveled at the “famous names” and photos — Leo! Brad! Charlize! – emblazoned on cardboard placards demarcating who will grace those seats on Oscar night. With her rehearsal done, Fonda good-naturedly confided in a production staffer, “I’m hungover so I made a few mistakes”, before heading out and declaring, “C’est fini!”
Unsurprisingly, it was Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig who brought the most levity, often dissolving into giggles together on stage. “Oh my gosh, this is an epic thing to see!” said a starstruck Timothée Chalamet after spotting Wiig and Rudolph as he waited to rehearse. Hearing him fanboy in the front row, Rudolph joked self-deprecatingly, “Save that for after you see it!”
Of course, they nailed their bit, leaving the first-time presenter in hysterics and just a tad concerned that he and co-presenter Natalie Portman were set to follow them on-stage. “They’re right before us?! Oh God!” Chalamet said to an unruffled and smiling Portman, who was low-key in jeans and her hair pulled up in a messy bun.
Checking out the orchestra seat assignments and decked out in Balenciaga track pants and a fitted long sleeve tee, Salma Hayek spied her name and photo at a prime spot. “I got a great seat!“ she said giddily, noticing Penelope Cruz’s name nearby. “All my friends are around!”
The parade of stars — Tom Hanks, Cruz, Mahershala Ali, Idina Menzel, Mindy Kaling, Mark Ruffalo and Regina King among them — brought their game and star power throughout the fast-paced few days.
Friday saw most of the show’s musical acts run through their performances and finesse stage directions and timing. Eimear Noone, the show’s first female composer-conductor, rehearsed this year’s Best Original Scores. At one point, Chrissy Metz took the stage to belt out “I’m Standing With You”, her Oscar-nominated song from the drama “Breakthrough”. “Look at all the famous people that are going to be in the audience!” said a wide-eyed Metz, as she scanned the orchestra.
Before the This is Us star ran through the song a second time, 11-time nominee Diane Warren gestured to the orchestra tucked under the stage and took the whole scene in from the front row. After snapping an iPhone selfie beside a seat-placard displaying her own headshot, Warren perfectly summed up the pre-Oscar mood, saying: ”This is f—ing awesome!”
The 92nd Annual Academy Awards will air live from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Feb. 9 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.