12 Peculiar Facts About the Oscars That Made Us Raise Our Eyebrows
Movie lovers from around the world grab your popcorn: the 94th Academy Awards ceremony is just around the corner. On March 27, the best directors, screenwriters, actresses, and actors will be honored with a legendary golden statue. As you can imagine, an event of this magnitude calls for detailed preparation and meticulous organization and involves a long list of behind-the-scenes people who make it all possible. So, before we make predictions about this year’s winners, let’s take a look at how the event is organized.
With the big night approaching, Bright Side decided to bring some lesser-known facts to light as a warm-up for the ceremony.
1. It takes about one month to get ready for the red carpet.
The Academy Awards is Hollywood’s most photographed event of the year and a glamorous night for A-list stars. They have to look perfect from head to toe, and usually, it takes a team of specialists and about a month of grueling workouts to get in shape for this event.
’’The Oscars is the most visible awards show worldwide, so when someone wears a dress from a designer, it’s like a massive ad campaign for them,’’ stylist Tara Swennen says. But it’s not just the dress that matters. Every aspect of a star’s body is in focus, and that’s why they have to be camera-ready and look flawless from every angle.
Workout routines get more intense in the month leading up to the Oscars. Special gowns that celebs borrow from designers are often only available in small sizes, so they sometimes have to scramble to hire nutritionists and personal trainers to get slimmer in very little time.
2. The most expensive gown worn at the Oscars was worth 4 million dollars.
The priciest gown in Oscar history was worn by Jennifer Lawrence at the 2013 ceremony: her light-pink Dior Couture dress was worth a whopping $4 million when it was lent to her. There’s no denying that this ballgown was stunning, but it was a challenge for Lawrence to move in it. She actually tripped and fell as she was climbing the stairs to receive the award.
3. Why do the photographers shout?
The Oscars are not glamorous or comfortable for everyone, especially for photographers who spend most of their time cramped along the red carpet, struggling to get a good shot. While those in the front row can get some interaction with the celebs, the ones in the back often have to get loud to attract their attention.
So when you hear: “To your left! To your left! Over the shoulder!” It’s the photographers who are trying to get celebs’ eye contact for their photos. They need to have the subject looking directly into their lens, or the photo doesn’t get used or sold,’’ Los Angeles Times photographer Jay L. Clendenin explains.
’’It gets ugly as you get closer to the door closing because that’s when the super A-list show up...en masse. That’s where it gets really crazy,’’ he says.
4. Nominees get expensive goodie bags.
Although not everyone will go home with an Oscar, all nominees in the top categories receive a six-figure gift bag. Companies pay up to $20,000 to the marketing firm in charge of assembling the goodie bags for a chance to place their products in the hands of the worlds’ biggest celebrities. The gifts are not humble by any means. In fact, 2020’s lavish gift bag was worth a staggering $225,000 and included items like a smart bra and even a luxury cruise.
5. Volunteers fill empty seats.
Those unfamiliar faces we see when the camera pans the audience are actually volunteers who fill empty seats. At the Academy Awards ceremony or any other important awards show, no seat must be empty at any point aside from the moment when the winners go on stage to receive their award. The stars are not even allowed to leave their seats outside of breaks. And if they do, they have to be back in time.
Given that the Oscars ceremony is supposed to be the most prestigious event in the industry, it wouldn’t look very professional if the theater was half empty. Seat fillers are not allowed to speak to anyone other than the other seat fillers: ’’The best way to describe the job is playing a game of musical chairs with famous people,’’ a former seat filler says.
6. No snacks or beverages are allowed.
Getting ready for the event, walking on the red carpet, posing for photos, and attending the actual ceremony can take hours, so it’s not surprising that stars are often starving. But to avoid staining their expensive gowns, they often stay away from ‘real’ food, and having snacks or food in the theater is strictly prohibited. However, a few times some celebs have managed to sneak in some nibbles backstage and have a quick bite before entering the theater.
Some of you probably remember the 2 hosts who successfully worked their way around this rule: Ellen DeGeneres ordered pizza for the stars in 2014, and Jimmy Kimmel surprised guests by delivering theater lunch boxes directly to their seats.
7. What happens during commercial breaks?
If you imagined butlers wandering around and tending to celebs’ requests, you might be surprised by a far less spectacular reality. During a commercial break, you can see the staff scrambling to clean up the stage, seat fillers rushing to fill empty seats, and celebs grabbing an opportunity to stretch their legs or go to the restroom.
This is also a perfect time for celebs to flip through their speeches once again before hitting the stage, and, of course, catch up with their fellow A-listers. Judging by the behind-the-scenes photos, this is when the most candid interactions take place.
A couple of years ago, the Academy came up with an idea to use the commercial break to present Oscars to the winners in 4 categories in order to cut the duration of the show to 3 hours. But this sparked such internet backlash that the Academy decided to think twice about it.
8. The Oscar winners don’t get paid.
Although the event itself costs a fortune, the famous statue doesn’t come with a cash prize. That said, receiving the Academy Award gives the winners a reputational boost and usually leads to bigger contracts for future roles. And, of course, they receive the above-mentioned luxurious gift bags.
9. No more endless acceptance speeches.
American actress Greer Garson gave a 6-minute speech in 1942, which is the longest acceptance speech on record. The Academy then decided to cut the speech length to 45 seconds. There are reminders on the teleprompter and after a winner has reached their time limit, the play-off music starts. If they take continue rambling, the microphone cuts out.
10. If something goes wrong, tell a joke.
This is one of The Academy’s oldest tricks. One of the duties of the comedy writers team is to write the last-minute jokes in case something goes wrong or to cover the possible awkward moments, like if the host falls or if the wrong winner is announced. But the Oscar jokes are carefully selected: “You have to be careful to not cross the weird line,” former head writer for the Oscars, Bruce Vilanch, explains.
But, he says, the writers start coming up with jokes for the Oscars about 2 months in advance and keep them in a 300-page “playbook.” This lengthy guidebook is kept just off stage, so the host can flip through it during commercial breaks to refresh their memory.
11. Nobody really knows why the statue is called Oscar.
The nickname of the Academy Awards statue has been in use since 1939, but its origin is often disputed. According to one rumor, actress Bette Davis named it ’’Oscar’’ because it resembled her husband, whose middle name was also Oscar. However, the Academy usually references the story of Margaret Herrick, the Academy executive secretary, who jokingly said the statuette reminded her of “Uncle Oscar.” All in all, the origin of the name remains a bit of a mystery, and the official name of the award is “Academy Award of Merit.”
12. Liz Taylor once declined the award.
It may come as a surprise that the legendary Elizabeth Taylor is on the list of 12 stars who declined this famous award. In 1966, both Elizabeth Taylor and her then-husband Richard Burton were nominated for Best Actress and Best Actor for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? but Burton convinced Taylor to not attend the ceremony.
At that time, Burton had 4 missed Oscars behind him and couldn’t stand another blow to his confidence, so the pair went on a trip to Paris. Indeed, he lost again, while Taylor won. However, she turned the award down in solidarity with Burton.
Which of these facts do you find the most surprising? If you know any other interesting behind-the-scenes details, feel free to share them with us in the comments.