Behind the scenes with Melissa McCarthy and family at the Oscars

Melissa McCarthy arrives before the 84th Academy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012, in the Hollywood...

Story by Mark Caro
(Chicago Tribune/MCT)
Mon, Feb 27, 2012
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When best song winner Bret McKenzie arrived backstage after his “Man or Muppet” win, he looked around and said, “This is a strange room.”

Indeed, press folk in formalwear with laptops, smartphones and earbuds (for listening to the show during interviews) in a hotel function room make for an odd vibe. And then the questions started.

Here are various scenes from backstage and the red carpet that you didn’t see on TV.

• Melissa McCarthy shines on red carpet

“Bridesmaids” supporting actress nominee Melissa McCarthy had happy-dewy eyes as she walked the red carpet.

“My mom and dad and my sister are here,” the Plainfield, Ill., native said. “It’s so extra special with my mom and dad here. So Mike and Sandy are on the red carpet.”

The whole experience, she said, was exceeding her expectations.

“It’s bigger and more exciting and more unbelievable,” she said. “And I expected a lot. This is just better than I could imagine.”

• Plummer calls supporting actor award “le creme on top” of career

Supporting actor winner Christopher Plummer (“Beginners”) finally brought some star power backstage, agreeing with a reporter that the Oscar represents a dessert topping for the new oldest-ever competitive winner.

“It’s le creme on top,” he said. “It’s lovely to be accepted because you know beyond the pleasure of working in front of a live audience, it’s a sort of general acceptance of the work. I don’t poo-poo awards, although there are so many of them I can’t keep up.”

Asked whether the Oscar represents his own beginning, Plummer instead called it “a renewal.”

“I hope I can do this another 10 years at least;” he said. “I’m going to drop dead either on a stage or a set.”

• “Undefeated” filmmakers drop bomb in speech

No surprise, the victorious “Undefeated” documentary feature filmmakers had to answer first to dropping a profanity on the show.

“First and foremost I’d like to apologize for that,” co-director T.J. Martin said. “It was not the classiest thing. That said, it did come from the heart.”

• “Dragon Tattoo” winners in a “very absurd place”

The questions backstage for “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” editing winners Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall returned repeatedly to the frequent correlation between this award and the best picture winner. The pair won last year for “The Social Network” as well, although “The King’s Speech” won the big award. This year, though, they were really surprised.

“We weren’t expecting it at all, and there’s no getting used to this,” Baxter said. “This is a very absurd place to be standing.”

• Makeup co-winners talk “Iron Lady”

The makeup co-winners for “The Iron Lady” were asked what was the most difficult part of turning Meryl Streep into Margaret Thatcher.

“The budget,” J. Roy Helland snapped, later adding that the film’s budget was less than $14 million. “When they budgeted for that, they didn’t consider we would be doing that much old age for that much time.”

• McKenzie disappointed “Muppets” song wasn’t performed

McKenzie, best song nominee for “Man or Muppet” (from, yes, “The Muppets”), said he was disappointed the song wouldn’t be performed on the show.

“I think they’ve got a phobia of felt,” he said, adding, “It’s a shame. It’s a shame that we’re not doing the songs. As my experience of doing that TV show (“Flight of the Conchords”) tells me, people like a few musical numbers.”

McKenzie also said a “Flight”-related movie may be in the works.

• Spencer doing late interviews; Mark Bridges “excited”

An announcement backstage informed the press room that supporting actress winner Octavia Spencer (“The Help”) wouldn’t be doing her interview round until after the show, which meant that the early discussions we dominated by the craftspeople, even if reporters sometimes struggled with their probings.

Cinematography winner Robert Richardson took exception to a question about liberal use of green screen in “Hugo,” saying it was mostly production design.

Then there was this exchange with costume design winner Mark Bridges (“The Artist”):

Reporter: “I’m curious, how do you feel tonight winning the Oscar?”

Bridges: “I’m very excited, as you might imagine.

• The last word

Then there was McKenzie again, being asked how it was to write without “Flight of the Conchords” partner Jemaine Clement.

“It seems to have gone very well,” the new Oscar winner deadpanned.

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