Take a peek inside what happened when the cameras weren’t rolling at the 74th Emmy Awards.
On Monday evening, the biggest names in television gathered at Los Angeles’ Microsoft Theater for the 74th Emmy Awards ceremony. With so many A-listers in one room, most of the best moments — from star interactions to standing ovations — often go unseen from the live telecast.
The Hollywood Reporter was on the red carpet, backstage, in the room and at the afterparties to catch all the action. Here’s what the cameras missed.
- Overheated: With an outdoor red carpet (which, technically, was gold) opening at 2 p.m., the Emmys felt the remnants of L.A.’s heat wave. Though Monday’s ceremony was considerably cooler than the Creative Arts’ triple-digit temps last week, press and talent alike still found themselves sweating as the tented venue ranged from 80 to 90 degrees. FIJI water buckets were carefully sprinkled throughout the interview area, but without fans and only varying shade protection, medical teams were on the scene to tend to some who became sick in the intense heat. Others crowded around air-conditioned vents or whipped out handheld fans, and many formal suit jackets were removed quickly after photos.
- Long Lines: With less than an hour ‘til showtime, the queue to get into the theater wrapped around itself and down the block in Downtown L.A. The hold-up was not only the tickets that needed to be confirmed, but also that each attendee’s COVID-vaccination status or negative PCR test was required for the event. With little time to spare, several attendees could be seen cutting or complaining. Others, like Meg Stalter and Mark Indelicato from best comedy series nominee Hacks, would need to be plucked out and escorted to the front.
- Too Late: At the start of the show, at least a few stars got caught in the wings waiting for a commercial break to return to their seats so as not to disrupt the telecast. During host Kenan Thompson’s opening musical number, eventual winner Lizzo, Brian Cox and Bob Odenkirk all waited for the go-ahead to sit back down. Lizzo danced along to the performance to pass the time. Two commercial breaks later, Odenkirk was spotted a second time, returning to the theater too late after cameras started rolling. The Better Call Saul nominee watched Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez present onstage before he was allowed to return to his seat.
- Committing to the Bit: Presenting the award for best writing in a comedy series, Will Arnett dragged a seemingly passed-out Jimmy Kimmel onto the stage, with Arnett joking that this is the “Thirteenth time in a row that he’s lost and he just got into the skinny margaritas back there.” Kimmel remained horizontal even as winner Quinta Brunson arrived, literally stepping over him to accept her first-ever Emmy for ABC series Abbott Elementary. What viewers at home didn’t see was that Kimmel remained committed to the bit well after the cameras stopped rolling. As the telecast cut to a commercial break, Arnett dragged the late night host, still playing dead, off stage. The internet didn’t seem to appreciate the bit, with many Twitter users noting that it did not appear respectful to remain onstage during Brunson’s big moment. Backstage, Brunson addressed the incident. “I think in that moment, I was just really happy that it was Jimmy up there,” she told reporters. “I kind of consider him one of the comedy godfathers; I’m a huge fan of Will Arnett, so I was wrapped up in the moment. I don’t know — tomorrow maybe I’ll be mad at him. I’m gonna be on his show on Wednesday, so I might punch him in the face. I don’t know. We’ll see what happens.”
- You Get a Standing Ovation!: Oprah Winfrey kicked off the night as the first presenter, to which her appearance was welcomed with a standing ovation. Following, the audience rose for the likes of Dopesick’s Michael Keaton, Squid Game’s Hwang Dong-hyuk, Geena Davis and Sheryl Lee Ralph — the Abbott Elementary winner received a total of three standing ovations during her rousing acceptance speech. Upon returning to the theater after her second win for best actress in a drama series, Euphoria star Zendaya was warmly greeted with tons of screaming and hugs from those in the audience. Her first win had been delivered over Zoom.
- Lots of Love for Abbott Elementary: While the night saw excitement for several nominees, Abbott Elementary appeared to get the most love in the room. Each time the Quinta Brunson-led show was mentioned, the room erupted into applause, beginning with a mention from Thompson in his opening monologue. In addition to her many standing ovations, Ralph was also showered with hoots and hollers from the back of the theater, from the moment her win for best supporting actress was revealed until she left the stage.
- John Oliver Gets Starstruck: After winning once again for best variety talk series, John Oliver joined the press backstage where he revealed that the whole evening “was a bit of a blur.” He went on to share his reaction to the win, saying, “We couldn’t hear back where we were, so when it was announced, I thought someone else had won. Then my staff started getting up and I thought, ‘I guess I should go with them.’” But it wasn’t until he met presenters Steve Martin and Martin Short that Oliver says his mind went blank. “I met Steve fucking Martin and everything left my mind, to be honest,” he said. “I never met him before, so I totally blanked after. I saw Martin Short coming at me with one of these [trophies], which was already weird. Then to have Steve Martin behind him is very strange. If you grew up loving comedy to a genuine character fault, as I did, that is a pretty staggering moment.”
- A-listers Abound: Throughout the night, various stars were spotted catching up with friends and costars at the Microsoft Theater. On the red carpet, Lily James ran over to Himesh Patel, where the Yesterday costars shared a big embrace. In matching blue ensembles, best friends and comedians Nicole Byer and Sasheer Zamata chatted while waiting in the lobby to be let back into the theater during a commercial break. At the Governor’s Gala afterparty, Ariana DeBose and Colman Domingo danced in the walkways. Likewise, the Ted Lasso team, including Hannah Waddingham — who was shrewdly sporting sneakers under her gown — celebrated together at the gala, snapping photos with their collection of Emmy statuettes.
- Selfie Time: After the show, some stars stopped to take photos and greet guests and fans alike at the Governor’s Gala. Upon arrival, Thompson could be seen making his rounds, graciously stopping for photos and chatting with attendees. After taking some heat from Thompson — who poked fun at Netflix a few times — the streamer’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos snapped selfies with guests, even offering to take extras to make sure the photo came out well.
- Worlds Collide: Yellowjackets stars Melanie Lynskey and Tawny Cypress got together with the queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race for a group photo. While both shows were nominated this year in the categories of best drama series and best competition program, respectively, neither took home a statuette. No matter, the casts kept on partying.
Chris Gardner and Kirsten Chuba contributed to this report.
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