Oscar Diary: Ben Morris take us through his night at the Oscars
After you bag the statue, you get to talk to John Travolta. Award-winner Ben Morris gives us the lowdown on his big moment
Friday 29 February 2008
Two weeks ago, we interviewed Ben Morris about his triumph at the Baftas, where he won the award for Best Visual Effects. On Sunday night, the 37-year-old visual-effects supervisor achieved the double whammy, lifting his second golden statue.
Morris was awarded the Oscar for his work on The Golden Compass including the main character of Iorek, voiced by Ian McKellen. His fellow winners, Trevor Wood, Michael Fink, and Bill Westenhofer, took on other aspects of the film's special effects. On the most important night of his career, Morris kept a behind-the-scenes diary for us.
I didn't have a very good night's sleep before the Oscars because we had only just flown in. It is now 11.30am on Sunday morning and a hairdresser has turned up to do my wife Julie's hair at the Sofitel hotel in Hollywood. A limousine will pick us up at 3pm. We can't take phones or cameras on to the red carpet. I tell my family and friends I won't be sending texts from the event.
1pm: watch a DVD presented by Tom Hanks on how to accept an Oscar. Not cool to turn up with an enormous sheet of paper and a thousand names.
1.30pm: switch on TV to watch Oscar coverage. I jump around the hotel room and feel terrified. One of my friends who got an Oscar 10 years ago for Babe told me he lost sensation in his legs and couldn't get up.
2pm: my wife is now wearing a full-length Marchesa backless, midnight-blue dress. I am wearing the same black tie by Ted Baker that I wore to the Bafta Awards. It is rather unglamorous, but I have purchased the outfit myself.
3pm: a black limo arrives to take us to the Kodak Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. It is 30ft long with a champagne bar inside.
3.20pm: driving through bomb squads and security checks. Police search underneath limo with mirrors.
3.28pm: sitting in traffic jam with hundreds of limos waiting to drop people off on the red carpet. Suddenly it pours with rain.
3.30pm: greeted by a man with an umbrella. Climb out of limo to work red carpet. It takes 45 minutes to walk 100 yards. A- listers go along a separate channel as they stream us. I see Patrick Dempsey, John Travolta, Nick Nolte, Colin Farrell, Seal and Heidi Klum. Notice George Clooney looks very thin.
4.10pm: Helen Mirren zooms past waving at fans. She knows what she's doing.
4.30pm: head into the Kodak Theatre for champagne reception. It's at the back of a shopping mall decked out in red carpets and plush red curtains.
4.45pm: directed to the ground floor. This is where the stalls are for all the nominees. It's the cool floor with all the stars. Aim to schmooze.
5pm: manage only to speak to other contenders in our category; the guys from Pirates of the Caribbean and Transformers. A-list stars trickle in – Daniel Day-Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones, Harrison Ford. It's not my normal environment. We are back room boys. Am reserved and British.
5.30pm: find our seats in main theatre. The army of seat fillers are ready to sit in your place if you go to the restroom. We are the fourth award of the night. Time gets vague. I'm in a spin.
At about 6pm: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson – an ex-body- builder-turned-actor – presents our category award. They show the footage of The Golden Compass revealing how we constructed one of the shots where the little girl is riding on a polar bear. Dwayne opens envelope – pause – everything goes into slow motion. We all scream!
6.10pm: running down stage to collect statue. You have 60 seconds before they kick you off stage. The four of us are given our own statue. I thank my team at Framestore CFC and my wife and kids.
6.40pm: backstage being dragged about for photo sessions. Given another opportunity to record acceptance speech for Academy Awards' website. Sign two posters with all other winners. Knock back the champagne. Couple of TV interviews – no idea with whom.
7.45pm: sneak outside with my wife's phone to wake everybody up in England.
9pm: ceremony wraps up. Go to the Governors Ball for dinner waving the Oscar around.
9.10pm: Colin Farrell sees me outside rest room with statue, he has no idea who I am but congratulates me anyway.
9.30pm: bump into John Travolta, who shakes my hand. Make way to our table where I declare: "Jesus! I have just spoken to John Travolta!" John Travolta is behind me on next table and he can hear me.
9.40pm: am sitting next to one of my visual-effects heroes from the industry – Richard Edlund, a multi-award winner who made the first Star Wars films.
10pm: after main course of fillet steak have group shot photo with John Travolta. He is being pretty friendly. Crazy chocolate Oscars for pudding.
By 11pm: drunk, tired and jet- lagged. Adrenalin replaced by woozy feeling.
11.30pm: leave to go to Elton John's bash at Pacific Design Centre. An Oscar is the golden ticket. Huge military operation underway to radio limo at limo park to collect us.
12.45am: arrive outside Elton John's party. Get interviewed live by BBC. Friend from England calls me to say he has just seen me interviewed on the BBC.
1am: walk into to Elton John's party. It is empty. Everybody has left. Get a free goodie bag.
1.45am: arrive at the Four Seasons Hotel for another party. Ratatouille director Brad Bird is at the bar. Buy champagne.
3am: evening ends. Limo back to our hotel. At 3.30am, Oscar on bedside table, sleepily flicking through 60 text messages on phone.
7am: wake up. Hungover. Coming home with statue.
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