The Beverly Hilton’s International Ballroom was abuzz Sunday evening with the rolling thunder of excited conversations, clinking glasses and the general whoosh of pedestrian traffic around a party packed with mega-stars and supernovas including Taylor Swift, Oprah Winfrey and Bruce Springsteen.
But when Steven Yeun stepped up to the stage to accept his trophy for “Beef,” the din fell by several decibels. The emotion in his voice as he spoke of his feelings of “isolation and separateness” carried through the ballroom, causing silence followed by rapturous applause.
The respect shown to Yeun was one of many notable moments that you had to be room where it happens to fully appreciate. As always, a big part of the fun of attending the Globes is the people watching and the chance to gauge reactions to the ceremony from a room full of industry insiders.
Here’s a rundown of highlights from those observations.
Traffic Jam: Never forget the Globes is a gala dinner that happens to be telecast live. Stars who leave their tables in the magic circle area in front of the cameras are held back by security from returning to their seats until it’s commercial break time. No exceptions. Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert Downey Jr. , Carey Mulligan, Bill Hader, Colman Domingo, Timothee Chalamet, Brie Larsen, Billie Eilish, Finneas and Jared Leto were among the notables who had to wait patiently at various times in the telecast for the greenlight to sit down again.
Holding Court: Joaquin Phoenix and Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz had a long chat just before the ceremony began. By hour three of the show, Florence Pugh and Hunter Shafer were having an animated conversation with a few other women at the bar in the rear of the ballroom. Meanwhile, Meryl Streep was inundated with requests for selfies when she visited the ladies’ room – and she fulfilled every one of them.
Better Safe Than Sorry: “Oppenheimer” winner Cillian Murphy probably sent some in the crowd at the Hilton to check the dictionary when he used the Irish slang “feckin’ ” in his acceptance speech. In the ballroom, it was clear that he did not drop an actual F-bomb – but CBS bleeped it anyway.
Spirited Response: “Star Wars” stalwart Mark Hamill was a surprise presenter and perhaps he brought some kind of unseen force with him. Seconds after he cheered the Globes for being the only major kudocast with an “open bar,” the sound of breaking glass was clearly heard throughout the ballroom.
Fired Up?: When “The Diplomat” star and nominee Keri Russell was on stage presenting with Ray Romano, attendees in the back of the room were distracted by a fire department official in uniform who snaked his way through the warren of tables on the righthand side of the room. Keen-eyed viewers at home were able to catch a brief glimpse of a tall member of the Beverly Hills FD walking behind the pair as Russell and Romano handled their envelope-opening duty.
Pascal’s Prank: During commercial breaks, “The Last of Us” star Pedro Pascal, who came to the Hilton with his left arm in a sling, was visited by many celebrities including Andrew Scott and Jeffrey Wright. Variety also stopped by the Chilean star’s table. At the time, Pascal was trying to “prank call” Matt Damon who was sitting across the room at the “Air” table. Pascal laughed hard after he realized that he was talking to voice mail rather than to Damon himself. Of his broken wing, Pascal explained to Variety that he fell down some stairs at his family’s home and is awaiting surgery later this month. He expects to be ready to go back to work by the time “Last of Us” begins production on Season 2 in mid-February.
Red Carpet Matchmaker: As Globe attendees walked the long corridor from Wilshire Boulevard to the start of the red carpet, the first thing they encountered was Variety’s interview platform where Marc Malkin and “Entertainment Tonight’s” Rachel Smith nabbed A-listers for interviews for the 90-minute live Globes pre-show. As the crowd swelled, there were some starry logjams, but that just created a value-added networking opportunity. To wit, while “The Color Purple” star Fantasia Barrino was awaiting her interview with Malkin, she came face-to-face with Reese Witherspoon, the Oscar-winning multihyphenate who runs Hello Sunshine. “I would love to work with you,” Barrino told her. To which Witherspoon responded, “I would love to. Let’s talk.” Did Variety just help plant the seed of a future Barrino-Witherspoon collaboration? Let’s hope so.