As wild and unscripted as the Golden Globes are on TV, the ceremony feels even looser inside the ballroom at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. That’s why the star-studded ceremony hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has a reputation as the year’s best party, with its eclectic guest list of industry heavyweights from Megan Ellison to Tom Hanks to Taylor Swift.
Here are 10 backstage secrets Variety witnessed at this year’s ceremony.
1. The Dinner. The menu at the gala, prepared by executive chef Suki Sugiura, offered a choice of these starters: grilled eggplant with sun-dried tomato pine nuts, mini sweet pepper with feta cheese and grilled artichoke on multigrain tabbouleh. For the main dish, there was Mediterranean spice-crusted braised beef short rib or sautéed smoked filet of Atlantic sea trout. The dessert was a mango with compote. And there were three alcohol options–chardonnay, malbec or champagne.
The waiters inside the venue started to serve “dinner” at 3:30 p.m., when most of the tables were still vacant. This is done to avoid clinking silverware during the telecast, which airs 90 minutes later on the West Coast. But by the time most of the stars arrive, the food has already been cleared except for the alcohol, which explains why the winners sometimes look tipsy on-stage.
2. The Chocolate Tower. If you’re really starving, there are other dining options at a backstage bar where many of the guests (Julianna Margulies, Jonah Hill, Kevin Spacey and Chris Evans) take refuge as the show drags into its second or third hour. The space includes a buffet of fruits and vegetables, an assortment of desserts and a towering chocolate display courtesy of Godiva.
3. Seating chart. The Hollywood Foreign Press might have tipped their hand by seating the cast from “American Hustle,” which nabbed the most (three) Golden Globes, at the very front of the ballroom.
4. The Commercial Breaks. This is when the celebrities start to mingle, and it’s a free-for-all of loud conversations. Harvey Weinstein, who seemed to be rotating tables throughout the telecast, hugged Jennifer Lawrence after her win. Later in the evening, Weinstein cozied up next to “August: Osage County” co-stars Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep, who were all cracking jokes.
At another commercial break, Roberts posed for photos with “12 Years a Slave” star Lupita Nyong’o. She later congratulated Elisabeth Moss on her win—does this mean she’s a fan of “Mad Men”?
Tom Hanks, who was on his way to the bathroom, briefly paused to chat with Matthew McConaughey. Ryan Murphy was in a deep discussion with his “Normal Heart” leading man Mark Ruffalo. “Nashville’s” Hayden Panettiere called to Chris Hemsworth, who gave her a quick peck on the cheek (she also received a kiss from Leonardo DiCaprio).
As the night progressed, side conversations picked up volume and started to bleed over into the telecast. By the time Chris Pine and Emma Watson took the stage to present best animated film to Disney’s “Frozen,” the crowd was so rowdy, it was difficult to hear them.
5. The smoking patio. Unlike the Oscars, which has an organized staff of seat fillers, the Globes are more laid back when it comes to roaming. Many of the guests slip away during the ceremony, and when they do, they hang out on the smoking patio adjacent to the ballroom. That’s where you could find Julie Delpy after her category was announced, puffing a cigarette. Joaquin Phoenix, in a cardigan and with his hair tied back, hunkered in a corner. Moss spent the last hour outside, kissing her Globe and talking animatedly with friends. And Jessica Lange quietly stood by the door alongside a gaggle of publicists and agents.
6. Selfies with the Stars. As social media and iPhones have turned everybody into an amateur photographer, the backstage area has gotten more frenzied—with guests sometimes on the hunt for a snapshot with their favorite celebrity. Taylor Swift graciously posed with her fans as she made her way into the venue. Other celebrities who agreed to the pictures included Aaron Eckhart, Elisabeth Moss, Mike Tyson and “Wolf of Wall Street’s” Margot Robbie (who said she was being especially sought out by her fellow Australians). At the end of the night, presenter Jessica Chastain agreed to snapshots in the hotel lobby.
7. Barefoot celebrities. We only counted one. When Emma Thompson presented the best screenplay award to Spike Jonze for “Her,” you could see she was holding up her heels on TV. The rest of us, though, saw her bare feet on stage.
8. Best shoes. Producer Jerry Weintraub (“Beyond the Candelabra”) donned a pair of red-soled Louis Vuittons with a dragon on them.
9. Loudest Ovation. When Andy Samberg surprised as best actor in a TV comedy for “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” his entire table leapt to their feet to celebrate.
10. Favorite Four-Legged Guest. Salem, a 4-year-old Labrador, greeted the nominees at the door as the ceremony’s bomb-sniffing dog. And his handlers reported that many of the evening’s guests like Emma Thompson were happy to see–and pet–him.