LOS ANGELES - Hollywood's biggest stars walked off-camera, dazed but delighted, into hugs and high-fives.
"Yeah!" an Oscar trophy girl whooped backstage when Jamie Foxx was announced as the best actor winner at Sunday night's Academy Awards.
After an emotional speech, Foxx followed presenter Charlize Theron into the wings. They embraced and kissed, whispering to each other.
Surprise presenter Julia Roberts ended up with a prize of her own, even though she wasn't nominated.
She gave Clint Eastwood the best director Oscar, and "when he was finished, instead of going offstage, he went back to his seat, so I have the envelope," Roberts said, waving it in the air.
After the show, presenter Samuel L. Jackson stopped host Chris Rock in the hallway and told him, "You did it, man. Awesome."
Even former Oscar winners were feeling the tension of Hollywood's biggest night.
"I'm nervous," Gwyneth Paltrow confessed, waving her hands in the air. "Nobody's watching, right? Who cares," she joked.
After the show ended, the backstage hallway was busy, choked with lingering, chatting celebrities.
Earlier, the hall was the scene of a series of intimate moments, as presenters tracked down winners to hand over the torn white envelope with the winner's name inside. The informal little ceremonies have become something of an Oscar tradition outside the spotlight and away from cameras.
Supporting actor winner Morgan Freeman was chased by presenter Renee Zellweger.
"Mr. Freeman, I think you should keep this," she said, sliding the envelope containing his name into his hand.
"Congratulations," said Zellweger, an Oscar winner last year, as she hugged the newest member of the exclusive club.
Cate Blanchett, who won supporting actress for "The Aviator," wandered down a backstage hall with a dazed look on her face. She asked presenter Tim Robbins, "Was it really my name?"
He laughed and assured her that her name was in the envelope he was carrying for her.
When Freeman emerged into the crowded backstage hallway, he was greeted by hearty applause from bystanders and high-fives from members of the American Boychoir, waiting to take the stage with R&B star Beyonce.
Freeman rounded a corner to begin his path along the "winner's walk" and nearly collided with two-time nominee Foxx. The men shared a silent embrace, and Freeman asked Foxx, "Did I talk enough?"
Foxx bowed and said, "Man, it was beautiful."
Back in the wings, Beyonce closed her eyes and softly sang the French lyrics to the first nominated song, "Look To Your Path," as the crowd laughed at presenter Robin Williams.
The jovial mood began well before showtime, with host Chris Rock laughing it up outside his dressing room with Adam Sandler.
"Come on, got to have some fun," Rock said.
"I'm psyched to be out there with you," Sandler responded.
Rock had yet to don his tuxedo when his wife arrived, stepping daintily down the hallway in a gown with a long train. "OK, clean up, wife's here," Oscar producer Gil Cates announced to Rock and his posse of writers.
At one point, the Oscars resembled the Grammys when Beyonce, Josh Groban, Prince and Sean "P. Diddy" Combs converged in the wings.
Beyonce enveloped the diminutive Prince in a hug and whispered, "Are you having a party tonight?
"Yes," the singer murmured.
"I hope we can come," she replied.
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