When it comes to celebrity gossip, there’s no one more tuned in than eTalk and The Social personality Lainey Lui. The blogger, host and all-around celebrity guru has been reporting on salacious star happenings for years, after all. But when it comes to The Oscars? Well, that’s kind of her bread and butter.
This year, Lui will return to her balcony position on the yearly red carpet, where she’ll be joined by eTalk co-host Danielle Graham to chat about all the things we viewers won’t see at home from our couches.
It’s a gig Lui is fairly used to—after all, she’s been reporting from this specific vantage point since as far back as 2008. And aside from the event’s main broadcaster, she’s the only other one allowed up there. Given that history, we’d say she’s pretty much seen it all.
“All the celebrities end up there at the same place before they go up the stairs to go into the theatre. The most amazing things happen.”
“When we’re not on camera we’re looking down at that red carpet, which happens to be right after the final photo area, before the celebrities go into the auditorium,” Lui explains. “So, this is like their last check. This is where it gets kind of bottlenecked sometimes, because all the celebrities end up there at the same place before they go up the stairs to go into the theatre. The most amazing things happen.”
Naturally, we had to ask her all about it. Here’s just a snippet of she’s witnessed on the red carpet over the years.
1. Wardrobe malfunctions are real
You won’t always see a star pop out, but that’s because they’ve made damned sure they’ll stay in place beforehand. And yes, sometimes that includes minor freak-outs.
“I’ve seen Penelope Cruz sort of adjusting her dress and kind of panicking because she thought she was going to have a wardrobe malfunction,” Lui says. But a lack of body tape isn’t the only reason a lady has to worry. The overall crowdedness of the space is of concern, too.
“Every year someone’s dress gets stepped on, and there’s almost an accident. Those dresses are so involved and complicated sometimes and they all have trains. Every year, one dress will be stepped on and it will be a crisis avoided or a potential crisis,” she adds. “Marisa Tomei’s dress got stepped on a few years ago and we were watching it unfold live and she almost tumbled.”
2. Celebs…they’re just like us
Think being famous exempts certain people from waiting in line like everyone else? Sorry, but that’s not how Mr. Oscar works. Even the most famous couple on the planet has to patiently wait their turn.
“I’ve seen Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie waiting in line. To me, I don’t understand that sentence, why those two have to wait in line, but they were waiting patiently,” Lui reveals. “There was no wrangler or publicist saying, ‘Hey! Angie and Brad coming through.’ They just kind of waited in line, behind frankly, people who were way less famous than they are.”
3. There’s actually more love than drama
The media always seems to want to make frenemies out of certain celebs, but when it comes to a big, old party, that’s just not the case. Mostly perhaps, because the Oscars are good about staggering arrivals, but also because there are just too many catch-up opportunities.
“I’ve seen Jennifer Lawrence and Kristen Stewart spot each other from across the carpet and run towards each other and hug and kind of joke around,” Lui says. “At the time, everyone was trying to make them into rivals because Jennifer was in Hunger Games and Kristen was with Twilight. People were trying to create the woman versus woman story and that just wasn’t the case; they adored each other.”
4. Smoking isn’t so taboo
Okay, so way fewer celebs light ’em up nowadays than they used to, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t actors who actually walk around with their heads in the clouds. Like Sean Penn and Josh Brolin, perhaps?
“I used to go from the balcony straight to the press room backstage at the Oscars, and in order to get there you have to walk across this platform and bisect the Oscar crowd going into the theatre,” Lui explains. “So, there was a year where I was walking from my position to the press room, right behind Brad Pitt and Sean Penn’s plume of smoke. I breathed in all his second-hand smoke.”
5. There’s lots of booze
There may not be any drinking in the actual theatre, but that doesn’t mean those celebs are teetotalling either. According to Lui, she’s seen some of the dudes, like George Clooney, swig from a flask while on the red carpet. And those people who serve as seat-fillers? Well, they don’t just step in when someone has to go to the bathroom—not when there are three bars to access.
“Brad Pitt is always at the bar. So is George. Like, if Brad Pitt’s at the Oscars, he’ll hit the bar at least once, he and George Clooney. They can’t bring their drink into the theatre though, so you won’t see them sitting in their seats holding onto their wine glasses. But yeah, they’re always at the bar.”
6. Some celebs just don’t give a bleep
Oscars schmoscars. There are some celebs who say they don’t care about winning, and then there are those who say they don’t and actually really don’t.
“Joaquin Phoenix is one of those. Whenever he goes to the Oscars, he is like, ‘I need to get this over with as soon as possible.’ That’s sort of his style,” says Lui. “I feel like Tom Hardy is going to be that guy this year.”
7. Then, there are those who perpetually show up
“What I love about George Clooney is that he has always said he will not go to the Oscars unless he is nominated or returning as a winner. So, George is not one of those people who is going to just say, ‘Yes, I’ll present year after year,'” Lui explains. And she can’t say that about everyone. Someone who always seems to show up no matter what? Jennifer Lopez.
“J.Lo has never won an Oscar—I don’t think she’s even been nominated for an Oscar—but J.Lo is at the Oscars every other year. It’s like an opp for her to be like, ‘Find me a dress, I’m going to look the best, I’m going to look awesome, etc.'”
8. Tickets are a hot commodity
No matter who you are, nominees only get a set amount of tickets. So naturally, that always creates ticket drama when someone happens to want more than their allotted share.
“No one actually can come with a huge entourage because Oscars won’t allow it. They’ll all come with a publicist because that’s a standard practice. One publicist. And then that publicist, once they’re inside, the publicist has to go,” Lui says. “And sometimes they don’t get enough tickets all together, so you’ll find that they have their plus-one with them in the front row, and then way in the back is the only place they can seat the two other people they can bring. Like way in the balcony.”
9. Leo probably has big plans this year
Heading into the show, there’s lots of money on Leonardo DiCaprio coming out as the night’s big winner. Well, if the actor does win for his role in The Revenant, Lui says he has some pretty big plans.
“Leo is definitely going to win, there’s no question. I can’t remember a time when he wasn’t campaigning for this Oscar. The whole story has been about how cold he was, and how awful it was that he had to eat raw meat. This big movie star, who suffered so much for this role,” Lui says. “He’s definitely going to be there with his parents—he’s not going to have like a date for the actual show—but this is a guy who 100 per cent after this is done and he has that trophy finally in his hand, I’m sure there are like 30 models on call to meet him immediately after he gets off the stage.”
10. Brie Larson will just be overwhelmed though
The nominee for Best Actress, thanks to her role in the Canadian film Room, will also have a big night, according to Lui. But she’ll probably take it in completely different stride than Leo. After all, six months ago no one knew who Brie Larson was.
“She still seems very overwhelmed by the fact that she’s going to win an Oscar,” Lui predicts. “I feel like there are some people who aren’t overwhelmed. Sandra Bullock wasn’t. Leo isn’t going to be. But with Brie, the fact is that six months ago you didn’t know her name.”
11. The Oscars is the gold mine that just keeps on giving
Lui is the first person to say that without the Oscars, she doesn’t think she’d have any content. And that’s not just from observing people from that elusive spot on the balcony either. According to her, there’s plenty to be learned from the speeches and presentations themselves. Like when Ben Affleck talked about all the hard work his marriage with Jennifer Gardner was, and three years later they split. And then there’s this year’s host, Chris Rock.
“The last time Chris Rock hosted he made a joke about the lack of diversity,” she says. “Look how prescient that was, because he’s coming back to host in a year where #OscarsSoWhite is a controversy.”
Catch Lainey during eTalk at The Oscars air Sunday, February 28 at 6:30 p.m. ET, followed by Oscars Opening Ceremony: Live from the Red Carpet at 7 p.m. ET on CTV and CTV GO.
WATCH: Hungry for more Oscar gossip? Lainey breaks down everything you need to know before the big show in the video below!