By Rebecca Keegan, Los Angeles Times
9:15 AM CST, February 25, 2013
Backstage at the Oscars was a place for frayed nerves and celebrity traffic jams, as the complex, performance-heavy show tested the composure of cast and crew alike.
For many of the winners, however, the energy seemed a welcome rush Sunday night.
As Ben Affleck exited the Dolby Theatre stage after his movie was named best picture, the director kissed "Argo" producer George Clooney on the cheek and hugged some of the film students who were on hand to present the trophies this year.
"Keep it up, guys," Affleck said. "Make great movies."
Steered by a crew member toward the backstage "thank-you cam," Affleck started rattling off names he didn't mention in his speech.
"Did I say Matt Damon?" he asked.
Though Jennifer Lawrence had fallen on her way to accept the lead actress award, she came offstage looking no worse for wear. The "Silver Linings Playbook" actress giggled, accepted a bottle of water and watched the show from a monitor before proceeding to the pressroom.
For some presenters, the Oscars are old hat. Lead actor presenter Meryl Streep, overhearing a stage manager querying about her whereabouts, snorted out a laugh and said, "Leave her there? Leave her there. Get the gurney!"
After Quentin Tarantino won the Oscar for original screenplay for "Django Unchained," presenter Charlize Theron congratulated him. During his speech Tarantino noted that they are neighbors.
"Are you back in town?" Tarantino asked Theron.
"Yup, I'll come over for a cup of sugar," Theron said, and the two exchanged a fist-bump.
A few minutes earlier, Barbra Streisand clutched husband James Brolin's hand and had friend Donna Karan in tow as she boarded the backstage elevator after singing "The Way We Were," in tribute to the late Marvin Hamlisch.
The wings were crowded with bodies and anxious energy in the moments before the show's tribute to movie musicals, perhaps the night's most intricate moment from a logistics standpoint.
Before singing a number from "Dreamgirls," Jennifer Hudson sipped a cup of tea as a groomer sewed the hem of her dress. Amanda Seyfried, who was waiting to perform with the rest of the cast of "Les Misérables," took long, slow breaths while her costar Sacha Baron Cohen sang his part to himself.
The crew, meanwhile, attempted to keep tabs on the show's unusually large number of performers.
"Attention, all pages, we're trying to locate Jack Nicholson," one crew member said into his headset. "Everybody keep your eyes out for Jack Nicholson and let us know ... when you find him."
For some presenters, the stage wings were a place for last-minute strategizing and nerve-calming.
"How do five guys take a bow together?" Robert Downey Jr. asked his co-presenters and "Avengers" costars Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Renner and Mark Ruffalo. "They don't hold hands. That's weirdo, right?"
The opening musical number was cause for a lot of anxiety.
While waiting to make his entrance, Daniel Radcliffe bounced on his heels and turned to one of the chorus dancers.
"Tell me I'll be great," Radcliffe said.
"You'll be great," she said, and kissed his cheek.
When Theron and Channing Tatum returned to the wings after sharing a dance, Theron was holding up her dress hem.
"Something ripped," Theron said.
"You put that leg up and — whew," Tatum said, as a makeup artist dabbed sweat from his brow.
Minutes before the show started, Queen Latifah ran into first-time Oscar producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan.
"What, really?" she said, gesturing at Meron's feet.
"I'm in combat boots," Meron answered.
"Well," Latifah said, "you are in combat."