Most of you probably watched the Golden Globe arrivals on TV, but I was behind a glass window facing the red carpet on Sunday afternoon. The most fashionable accessory at the ceremony wasn't sparkly or even very expensive: it was a sea of red and white umbrellas that shielded the celebrities from the rain. Some stars (Taylor Lautner, Bradley Cooper) managed to stay dry, others (Harrison Ford, Sandra Bullock) weren't so lucky, and Robert Downey, Jr.'s tux was as soggy as Sherlock Holmes's trenchcoat. Toni Collette (best actress in a drama winner for The United States of Tara) summed it up best when she told the press room backstage that after she left her house, "I walked out into the rain, the chaos." Maybe that wasn't a bad way to prepare for a night with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the group of journalists who hand out the awards.
Over the years, the Golden Globes have become the modern-day equivalent of Truman Capote's Black and White ball, a gathering where some of the most famous people in the world gather (hello Julia Roberts, Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, George Clooney and ... Chace Craford) to mingle, booze and congratulate themselves. Harper Lee was even there, or at least an actress who played her—Sandra Bullock. But by its own rowdy standards—remember when Elizabeth Taylor seemed so tipsy she couldn't even announce Gladiator the winner?—this year's ceremony was relatively tame, even with the foul-mouthed Ricky Gervais as the show's host and The Hangover as the surprise winner for best comedy. Avatar picked up best drama, making it the frontrunner for the Oscar, along with Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart), Bullock (The Blind Side), Mo'nique (Precious) and Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds). Still, there were some unscripted moments. Here are nine things we learned backstage:
(1) Please, stop asking Meryl Streep how she does her accents. For years, it was the one question that got under Streep's skin, because it oversimplified the art of what she does. After Meryl won best actress in a comedy for Julie & Julia, the first thing a journalist wanted to know was if she hammered out her accents at home in front of a mirror. Streep took a deep breath, and then said, "I don't think about it that way. I have an idea inside me of how a person speaks. Then I corroborate it," she said, by eavesdropping on real-life people. She didn't even seem too annoyed by the question. She really is a great actress.
(2) If you get lost, you can always ask George Clooney for directions. Julianna Margulies (best actress in a drama for The Good Wife) didn't have a direct path to the stage when her name was called. "I was actually getting flustered because I couldn't get up there," she said, "and then I saw this faimilar face"—Clooney, her ER costar, who she pecked on the cheek. "It was very heartwarming for me."
(3) Sandra Bullock, you just won your first Golden Globe, what the heck are you thinking? "My dress isn't see through, is it?" Bullock asked, like a character out of a Sandra Bullock movie. "You guys would tell me?"
(4) Mention Tiger Woods, and Hollywood gets very nervous. Chloe Sevigny, star of Big Love, wouldn't comment on the golfer's big affairs. And Martin Scorsese nearly fled when he was asked if he'd ever consider making a Tiger biopic, and then gave a response that was cryptic even for him. "That's a story that's universal," he said. "It could be a number of people in history. Being human, that's the story."
(5) The Hollywood Foreign Press went Glee-ful for Glee—best TV comedy—but the show's biggest fan is still Suri Cruise. "That blows me away," said one of the show's stars, Jane Lynch. "I take that as a compliment. The Church of Scientology is very powerful."
(6) Fun Hangover fact No. 1: Mike Tyson agreed to play himself in the movie because he loved director Todd Phillips' comedy Old School. Hangover fact No. 2: the sequel is scheduled for release next Memorial Day, and it's not set in Las Vegas. Fact No. 3: Heather Graham took a stripper class to prepare for her role.
(7) When actors say no, it sometimes means yes. Both Bullock and Jeff Bridges (best actor in a drama for Crazy Heart) turned down their award-winning roles, until the directors got them to change their minds.
(8) Joan Rivers isn't the only one who had the wrong name listed at the airport. Robert Downey, Jr., winner for best actor in a comedy for Sherlock Holmes, said that his name often appears on airline tickets as Robert Downing.
(9) In other airport related news, here's how Sam Worthington's life has changed since starring in Avatar. He admitted, "I get through customs easier."