HOLLYWOOD – Harvey Weinstein, essentially exiled from Hollywood, certainly won’t be at the 90th Academy Awards. Instead, the Oscars will welcome several of the women he allegedly wronged so severely.
Roughly 24 hours before Sunday’s Academy Awards, Ashley Judd, Annabella Sciorra –and a stand-in for Salma Hayek – appear on the Dolby Theater stage together, as rehearsals are in full swing.
On Saturday afternoon, USA TODAY sat inside Oscar rehearsals, witnessing the moment in the making. Like many stars on this chilly Los Angeles day, Sciorra arrives dressed casually in a black velvet jumpsuit, a scarf and a felt hat. Judd is slightly more dressed up in a black dress and a sparkling diamond bracelet.
Shorter than Judd, Sciorra measures herself against the microphone. “I’m going to have heels on right? So I’m going to be up here, probably,” she says, standing on tiptoe.
Light moments pepper the rest of the Oscars rehearsal, which sees stars popping in for 10-minute stretches to practice their podium presentations. Fake, often hilarious acceptance speeches given by production staffers follow.
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There’s Sandra Bullock, saying she’s four days of antibiotics in. (Even Hollywood isn’t immune to flu season; across town, Armie Hammer had to skip the Spirit Awards due to the flu.) She nails her lead joke, which is so casually delivered, it takes a moment to realize it’s actually scripted from the teleprompter.
Standing center stage, Bullock, in high-waisted black pants and a cropped fuschia top, becomes startled as a slender microphone swiftly rises from the ground before her feet. She cracks a joke about tomorrow’s full-skirted dress. “Now everyone’s just going to be hoping for that moment, chiffon billowing up,” she deadpans.
For her test-run, a cheery Emma Stone arrives sipping tea and dressed in a gray wool jacket, jeans and black turtleneck, her wavy hair in a bun.
Stone waits at the back of the stage as five giant rings, lit brightly with Edison bulbs, stack themselves into a tunnel before her. She’ll glide through them on Sunday, but today she’s dancing in the shadows while waiting for her cue. (Pro tip: Keep an eye for her Time’s Up joke, it’s pretty killer.)
For some stars, Oscar rehearsals are a family affair. Matthew McConaughey’s wife, Camila, watches her husband practice his lines from the first row. Viola Davis brings her daughter, Genesis, on stage with her. Adorably, the six-year-old, clutching a glass of water, peers out into the auditorium where seats are marked with stars’ faces on placards, pointing to Mommy’s friends she knows. (This includes Meryl Streep.)
Genesis moves to the first row while mom delivers her lines, gazing up at the stage’s stunning, Swarovski crystal-covered arch, which is made to look like the inside of crystal geodes.
She’s not the only one in awe. When Mary Poppins Returns co-stars Lin-Manuel Miranda and Emily Blunt arrive to rehearse their bit, the legendary Rita Moreno (also a presenter), waves from the seats to get Miranda’s attention.
“Lin-Manuel!” she calls out. “Turn around! Look at this!” She points to enormous “Oscars” on stage made entirely of hanging strands of Swarovski crystals. Miranda widens his eyes, nodding in agreement.
Blunt, makeup-free in an olive green coat, black leggings and sneakers, asks a question about where she and Miranda will walk after they announce the winner. “Ok, done deal,” she says, before dancing off stage with Miranda through the crystal Oscars.
The biggest diva? Arguably BB-8, who rolls out onstage, cocking his spherical head left and right while basking in the spotlight.
The Oscars will broadcast live Sunday on ABC (8 ET/5 PT).
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