Spirit Awards: 15 Things the TV Cameras Missed

The 33rd annual Film Independent Spirit Awards aired Saturday afternoon on IFC, but sometimes the best things happen off-camera. Below is a snapshot of the oceanside action.
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Jordan Peele

Wet & Wild: At 10:30 a.m., production staffers are using squeegees to get rid of puddles of rain water that are directly in front of the main entrance where guests file in on their way to the reception area after exiting security. The sun is finally out after a night and early morning filled with rain, and the squeegees couldn’t keep the floor dry inside the tent. During the main attraction under the big top, the ground was soaked due to the rain and many winners mentioned such onstage. Allison Janney and Emily V. Gordon both referenced their wet dresses during their acceptance speeches, while others struggled to keep their balance while walking to the podium due to slippery soles. A Fantastic Woman director Sebastian Lelio slipped and almost fell walking toward the microphone to deliver his acceptance speech for best international film. “Slippery” is how he, Kumail Nanjiani and Sam Rockwell described the scene.

Peele Over Press: Frances McDormand doesn't really do interviews. So after receiving best female lead honors for her work in Martin McDonagh's Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, the 60-year-old star skipped the typical post-win press conference in the back and instead made her way to Jordan Peele's table to have a tight conversation with the filmmaker and his Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya. After her acceptance speech, McDormand had many guests gossiping about what that contract was that she mentioned from the stage. During her speech, she teased that she has new projects on the horizon with "Chloe," presumably referring to Bonnie Award winner Chloe Zhao, who was on hand to also support multiple nominations for The Rider

Get Out? But Leave the Booze!: Allison Williams, one of the stars of best feature winner Get Out, told The Hollywood Reporter that she was running on three hours of sleep due to some hectic travel, flying to Los Angeles from Canada, where she was shooting a project that she couldn’t yet talk about. The actress did, however, find the words to chat with a Santa Monica Police Department officer who was trying to help her exit the whole scene after the show. Her driver was apparently having trouble getting to her exact location on the opposite end of where most stars were being picked up. Meanwhile, Greta Gerwig, a winner for best screenplay, was also trying to make a beeline for the exit but security stopped her and asked her to leave her drink behind. The Lady Bird filmmaker was clutching one of the specialty Piaget mixed drinks being served in a Capri Sun-style gold pouch. Gerwig happily obliged, but then was pulled by back by an escort and directed to the VIP exit. Off she went, sipping on her Piaget cocktail with a straw. 

Double Date: The Big Sick collaborators and real-life married couple Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani cozied up to another married duo, Kerry Washington and husband Nnamdi Asomugha, in what looked like a perfect Hollywood double-date. The quartet shared the same table after meeting for the first time, but it didn’t take long for them to look like loyal friends. When Gordon and Nanjiani were announced as the winners of the best first screenplay prize for their Amazon hit, Washington was one of the first to jump out of her seat and applaud their victory. Asomugha may not have won in the best supporting male category for his work in Crown Heights, but he found support from the table during a group toast after his category was announced.

Spirited Jitters: Long before the show kicked off, THR caught up with Film Independent president Josh Welsh, who was cruising through the American Airlines lounge on his way to rehearsal. It was just after 10:40 a.m., and Welsh relayed that his day started at 5 a.m., waking up with morning jitters. He reached for coffee at 6 a.m., and walked his dog at 6:10 a.m. “I always wake up early on show days,” he says. The source of those jitters can be traced directly back to the sky above. “It’s always the rain,” he says with a smile. “We put on a live TV broadcast inside a tent on the beach in Santa Monica in March, so that’s always the worry. Everything else I’m really relaxed about.” He looked relaxed hours later when he addressed the audience prior to the live broadcast, notably encouraging winners to speak from the heart rather than read off prepared notes. "Just resist it,” Welsh told the crowd. “Speak from the heart and be brief." The Spirit Awards have enjoyed an ongoing streak with this, and for several years no one has pulled out pieces of white paper, but that tradition died this year as one after another read from notes, including Allison Janney and Dee Rees. 

Celeb Sarandos: With just minutes to go before the live show, Ted Sarandos hunkered down at the Get Out table to talk to Peele. Unmistakable in a bright red blazer, Peele turned around in his chair to talk to the Netflix boss, who always seems to be the most popular man on campus at major events. “Hi Ted, I’m a filmmaker and I love everything you guys are doing,” explained one well-mannered gent prior to the show. “And I have a film in your library.” About those prepared notes, though: Sarandos was overheard telling a guest that he got to witness Dee Rees writing her impassioned speech, the one she delivered to accept the Robert Altman Award for her Netflix movie. “She wrote it at the table,” he said. “She had a piece for paper right there with her.”

Pass the Bottle: During the presentation of the Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Award, Molly Shannon reached for a bottle of Bulleit, the frontier whiskey which was one of the day’s big sponsors. She poured herself a glass, as she was finally off the clock after presenting the very first televised award of the day with Alison Brie, who was seated next to her at a table in the middle of the front-and-center section. The Bulleit bottles are a hot commodity following the show, as many guests are spotted scouring tables for unopened or nearly full bottles to snag and take home. Others didn't have to look very far: Bulleit gifted hosts, presenters and winners with specialty engraved Bulleit bottles, doled out to Janney, Aubrey Plaza and others.

Reporting for Duty: Before noon, THR spotted a server standing at the sink in one of the portable restrooms wearing nothing but boxers. The young man was getting dressed and ready to report for duty, presumably working in one of the hospitality tents. He was taking his time and multi-tasking.

Regular or Unleaded?: Hosts Nick Kroll and John Mulaney weren't the only ones to focus in on Timothée Chalamet's gas station-style shirt. When he went over to congratulate Greta Gerwig and the Lady Bird family at their table, co-star Beanie Feldstein made sure to poke a little fun at him, too.

Prime Daughter: Lois Smith’s daughter Moon, who accompanied Smith (a nominee for her work in Marjorie Prime), nearly missed the Saturday afternoon event, she told THR. Her flight from Philadelphia was canceled the night before. “But I said, ‘I am not missing this!’” Luckily, she was able to get on a flight that morning that got her to Santa Monica in time to accompany her mom for the day.

Hello, T'Challa: One of the biggest VIPs making his way around the backstage area was Chadwick Boseman, star of Marvel and Disney’s blockbuster Black Panther. He was spotted chatting with Jay Ellis backstage, and even posed for a photo with The Room’s Tommy Wiseau. Boseman was on hand to present the biggest award of the night, best feature, which went to Peele's Get Out

Hungry Like a Hawke: Ethan Hawke was on a mission in the backstage area — for snacks. He grabbed an ahi tuna tartar snack and later was overheard asking a waitress, “Can I have one of those crisps things?” He ended up hanging out in the Bulleit-sponsored tent, where he checked out the old-school arcade games and chatted with Mudbound star Garrett Hedlund.

What's for Lunch?: Speaking of food, below is the menu from the Spirit Awards lunch, which was served to 1,300 guests. 

Got a light?: While the Spirit Awards telecast took a commercial break, people took the opportunity for another kind of break. Throughout the ceremony, nominees, presenters and guests slipped out of the tent to take quick smoke breaks. Those seen puffing were co-host John Mulaney, Ben Mendelsohn and Garrett Hedlund, while Good Time star Robert Pattinson opted for a vape. McDormand also enjoyed a cigarette, but she waited until the show was over.  

Get a Room: Sarandos aside, one of the most popular guests of the day was none other than ... The Room's Wiseau. 

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