There’s plenty of elbow rubbing in Hollywood, but nothing compares to the amount of touching between famous people that occurs at the Vanity Fair Oscars party. Benedict Cumberbatch started early in the night, when he lounged at the bar with a martini, and gently rubbed the belly of his pregnant wife, Sophie Hunter. Then J.J. Abrams walked up to Cumberbatch and gave him a big hug. Abrams leaned forward and brushed the actor’s cheek, while Cumberbatch put his hand on Abram’s shoulder — and at some point, a misguided fan (or “Cumberbitch,” as they’re often called) tried to interrupt Cumberbatch for a photo. “I’m in the middle of talking to some friends, so sorry,” the Oscar-nominated star of “The Imitation Game” told his groupie.
Cumberbatch and Abrams chatted for a few minutes, until the conversation turned to the actor’s next big project: his first-born child. “We don’t know what it is,” Cumberbatch said about Cumberbatch Jr.’s gender. “Nor should you,” Abrams replied. The music picked up, and Cumberbatch grabbed his wife’s hand and dashed away.
This year’s Vanity Fair Oscars after-party, hosted by Graydon Carter in Beverly Hills, was once again the hottest ticket in town (much harder to gain admission to than the actual Oscars). Many would kill just to be a fly on the wall, although that might not be helpful, since it was nearly impossible to eavesdrop over the booming dance music that echoed throughout two rooms and an outdoor smoking patio overlooking the Wallis Annenberg Center.
Channing Tatum told what looked like a humorous story to TV host Chris Hardwick that involved big hand gestures and a “Magic Mike” dance move. Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan proved they were off- and on-screen pals, as they stood in close proximity. Judd Apatow made time for everybody, including Michael Keaton, and Jared Leto took a selfie with Jeff Goldblum. Orlando Bloom gushed to friends about the advantages of what sounded like “occupational therapy” (although he could have just as easily talking about “physical therapy”). “You think it’s not doing anything, but it is!” Bloom explained about his mysterious cure-all. “Go every week.”
In the men’s room, Elton John started yelling at a patron who was taking too much time inside a stall. “Hurry up! Hurry up!” John chanted, channeling T.S. Eliot. Adam Levine stood under an umbrella outside, as his wife fed him French fries. A waiter served In-N-Out burgers (Marion Cotillard sank her teeth into one), as well as fried chicken, macarons and chocolate chip cookies. One bartender revealed that his strangest drink order of the night came from Kelsey Grammer, who asked for a gin with onions. “He was very put off by the fact that I tried to put a lime in there,” the bartender said.
Most of the celebrities kept their guard down, except for Jay Z and Beyonce, who brought an actual bodyguard. They were hunkered in a booth in the back room of the party, talking to Kevin Hart. Beyonce kept yawning, as Jay Z petted her left knee. Suddenly, John Travolta (still wearing the chain necklace from the ceremony over his tux) walked up to their booth, along with his wife, Kelly Preston, and planted a big kiss on Queen Bey’s cheek. Travolta’s daughter was carrying a Lego Oscar from the Governors Ball, and Beyonce held it for a moment.
A few feet over, there was a real Oscar, which belonged to Julianne Moore, on a wooden ledge panel. Moore couldn’t stop smiling as her pals wandered over to congratulate her. First, there was Naomi Watts (“Oh, it was so beautiful,” Watts said, presumably of Moore’s speech) and Laura Dern. Fellow lead actress nominee Reese Witherspoon offered Moore a cheeseburger, after the lengthy haul of awards season. Then came “Still Alice” producer Christine Vachon, who teased that she was going to steal the Oscar. Moore handed her statue over to journalist Roger Friedman, who started to mock-weightlift it. “Give it to me!” said Moore’s husband, who took it back and put it on the wooden ledge.
Eddie Redmayne arrived a few minutes later with his lead actor prize for playing Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything.” He said he couldn’t believe that Cate Blanchett presented him with the award. Redmayne noted that one of his first film roles was in “Elizabeth: The Golden Age,” where he had to call the highly respected Australian actress a “dirty whore” over and over in various takes.
But none of the interactions at the Vanity Fair Oscar party seemed to be as intimate as the touching between Cumberbatch and his baby-to-be. He was spotted rubbing his wife’s belly several times throughout the night, including during a conversation with Chris Pine. As the missus leaned up against Cumberbatch, their arms wrapped around each other, as if they were about to drift off in a standing nap. But Cumberbatch wasn’t ready to leave the party yet. He rushed over to a waitress and ordered more alcohol.