ANGEL — During commercial breaks, the audience inside the Dolby Theater really comes to life on Oscar night.
Stars will gladly play for the camera stuck in their faces during global broadcasts — they are actors after all — but it often seems like most prefer talking to the fellow artists in the room.
Breaks may last forever for Oscar-watchers at home, but at Dolby they are never long enough as the main-floor stars abruptly end their conversation and hurry to sit down again.
The start of the show is invariably fought over as security, organizers and thundering god voices all try to persuade attendees to be seated in time for the start of the live broadcast. Some barely make it in, like “The Last of Us” and “The Mandalorian” star Pedro Pascal, whose handler begged to let him in because of his appearance in host Jimmy Kimmel's monologue, while others, like Elizabeth Banks, seem to have closed the moment- at opening. He was led into the room during the first break, walking past aspiring supporting actor Brian Tyree Henry, who walked into Cate Blanchett a few rows ahead.
Minutes later, Henry was one of the first to jump to his feet to cheer on Ke Huy Quan, who won in their category, as Quan's co-star Michelle Yeoh wiped tears from the front row. One person even supported the end of Quan's speech: Harry Shum Jr.
After his defeat, Henry was excited in the lobby. He walked up to Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Martin McDonagh. He requested a photo with Waller-Bridge, which McDonagh then dutifully took.
Back in the bedroom, as Jamie Lee Curtis took the stage to accept his supporting actress prize, Cate Blanchett covered her mouth with her hands and prayed over the newly anointed Oscar winner.
The audience was alarmed by what appeared to be smoke billowing in front of Curtis during his speech. But everyone breathed a sigh of relief when they realized that it was just part of the next chapter, a performance from Sofia Carson.
During the following break, Blanchett made a beeline for fellow Australian Nicole Kidman to give her a big hug, and Kidman did the same later with Austin Butler.
Outside the theater in the lobby Miles Teller was hanging out at the bar with his wife while Bill Nighy took a quick bathroom break. And across the room, filmmaker Rian Johnson shares a laugh with Hugh Grant, who made a cameo in his nominated film “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.”
The lobby was cold enough, but at least a few people came in layers: Rooney Mara wore a red coat to cover her gown and Andrea Riseborough wore a black leather jacket over her pale pink dress, which she wore until the end of the ceremony. .
At the bar, best actor nominee Paul Mescal makes a few new friends. As they debated whether or not they should order tequila, a fan approached Mescal for a photo.
“Are selfies okay?” asked Mescal, snapping his own photo.
SEE ALSO: Oscar 2023 recap: ‘Everything Everywhere' dominates Oscar 2023, wins best picture
A few feet away, Mescal's “Aftersun” director Charlotte Wells spent most of the ceremony in the lobby, sipping a beer.
In another corner, Rooney Mara chats with her “Women Talking” co-star Jessie Buckley. And on a hard-to-find couch, 84-year-old “EO” director Jerzy Skolimowski sits alone snacking on the popcorn and trail mix available to guests.
In the women's room, Yeoh and Sandra Oh walk hand in hand to head out, while Florence Pugh is a bit delayed. She needed a little help drying her hands in her voluminous dress.
“I'm dripping, I'm dripping,” he says with a laugh, his arm extended as far out in front of him as possible.
Moments later at the bar, Pugh edged in next to Cara Delevingne, both of them with the cart protruding behind them, as they whispered to each other. The act of turning around to leave wasn't as easy as they had anticipated.
“To follow one another takes ten minutes,” says Pugh.
As the night wore on, the lobby got a little more radiant as more winners emerged with more Oscars in hand, but it also became a little less starred as the night's biggest names returned to the room for the final categories.
Some, hungry from the long show, took advantage of the “snack box” under each seat with a pretzel, a bottle of water and all kinds of cinema candy, from Junior Mints to Raisinets.
During one of the final breaks, Kerry Condon hugged “Everything Everywhere At Once” directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert as they returned to the room, carrying the Oscar's best original screenplay, as Michelle Williams spread her legs several feet away.
Michelle Yeoh is one that didn't have time to return to her seat between winning the best actress award and when Harrison Ford announced that “Everything Everywhere” had won best picture. So he emerged from the wings of the stage to join his cast and crew at the microphone for the night's final honors.
Many choose to linger at the Dolby Theater for a bit, but others are eager to move on to the Governors Ball, Vanity Fair, and various other gatherings where the press and photographers are not invited. For the stars of Oscar night, the show is often just the first stop.