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OSCARS '98

The Waiting Game

Sure, there's glitz, glamour and limos on the way, but how do the nominees handle the pressure leading up to the big event?

March 23, 1998|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Walking the dog. Breaking out in hives. Hanging out at the pool. Chatting with your parents. And, of course, writing down lists of everyone in your life you'd better thank.

Did you ever wonder what the nominees really do on the big day?

For Oscar nominees, the waiting can be the hardest part. The ceremony doesn't start until 6 p.m., giving Academy Award hopefuls hours to get their hair done, prepare acceptance speeches and fret the day away.

With the 70th annual Academy Awards just hours away, we asked some former winners and nominees to reminisce about their Oscar day memories. They range from the ridiculous to the mundane, but they all carry one theme: It's an unforgettable experience.

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* Emma Thompson recalls the day she won best actress of 1992 for "Howards End"; she also won for best adapted screenplay for 1995's "Sense and Sensibility"

My memory? Of my absolute and utter horror of wearing high heels. Apart from all the excitement, and seeing all the stars and dresses, it's thinking, "I'm going to have a serious accident in these shoes!"

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* Steve Tisch, produced the 1994 best film, "Forrest Gump"

5:45 a.m.: Woke up; put on tuxedo.

7:35 a.m.: Dropped a slice of bacon on my formal shirt; changed shirts.

8:15 a.m.: Took my chocolate Labrador, Forrest, for a walk.

9 a.m.: Took my second shower; changed hairstyle; tried to remember everybody at my bar mitzvah.

10:45 a.m.: Alphabetized my CD collection.

12:30 p.m.: Took a nap. Naps suck!

2 p.m.: My wife and I checked in the Four Seasons Hotel; I watched my first soap opera.

2:30 p.m.: Took my third shower; tried on a different tuxedo.

2:45 p.m.: Tried on my wife's dress--not bad!

3:15 p.m.: Departed for the Shrine Auditorium.

6 p.m.: Arrived at the Shrine; for the next three hours sang every Beatles song I could remember (to myself).

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* Billy Bob Thornton, won best adapted screenplay of 1996 for "Sling Blade"

It was all about clothing and details. My mom was in town, and my best friend was going with me. I was so numbed out, that day was really fuzzy. My mom said she was proud of me and that she always knew I would be there. That was great. That was the highlight of the whole thing--having my mom with me.

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* Jack Lemmon recalls the day he won best supporting actor of 1955 for "Mr. Roberts"; he also won best actor in 1973 for "Save the Tiger"

One of the kids who was a member of the crew went over to Warner Bros. a couple of days ahead of the Oscars, walked into the wardrobe department, and he pinched my cap--the ensign's cap I wore--and he came by the house the morning of the Oscars and gave it to me, which I thought was great.

The other thing I remember is, Warner Bros. sent a limo for my then-wife and I. When we got to the Pantages, the platform that we walked up on to stop and be interviewed, the platform and the railing had just been freshly painted, and they had a sign warning us, "Fresh Paint." I got up there and relaxed--I thought I wasn't going to win anyway--I was leaning on the railing and then I sat on the railing. So I had a fanny full of red paint on the back of my rented tuxedo. And red all over my hands!

Well, I pulled out my handkerchief while we were sitting in the audience and I got most of the red paint off my hands, but I didn't know I had red stripes all over my back. But when they called my name out, I ran up there so fast, nobody could've seen 'em anyway. I looked like a zebra.

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* Whoopi Goldberg, nominated for best actress of 1985 for "The Color Purple"; won best supporting actress of 1990 for "Ghost"

The first time I was nominated, I gave myself the hives. I got them so bad, I had to go to the dermatologist. I was totally freaked out.

The second time I was nominated, I just kept walking around. I walked around and sat down. I got up and walked around some more. I walked into things and couldn't put five words together to form a sentence. Like Frankenstein, I was led to the car, arrived at the Oscars and I had no concept of what happened that night. And I was sober!

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* Tommy Lee Jones, won best supporting actor of 1993 for "The Fugitive"

It's unreal, otherworldly. People seem to be disembodied somehow. I worked that day [on "Cobb"] and [director] Ronnie Shelton let me off early to go to the ceremony. I never saw so many famous people in my life--that's the thing that impressed me; all these people I'd been seeing in the movies. Damn, there's a lot of famous people there. I felt like a kid.

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* Bruce Davison, nominated for best supporting actor of 1990 for "Longtime Companion"

That year we also had heavy rains and I was having renovations to my house and the roof caved in, so my wife and I were temporarily staying at the Oakwood Apartments.

When I got into the limo to go to the Oscars, all the little old ladies from the Oakwood, who had been sitting poolside with white zinc oxide on their faces came running out to wish me good luck.

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* Kathy Bates, won best actress of 1990 for "Misery"

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