By SANDY COHEN, AP Entertainment Writer
LOS ANGELES - Most of the action on the Oscar stage is choreographed and rehearsed. Backstage is another story.
In the wings of the Kodak Theatre, stars grapple with nerves, have impromptu meetings with colleagues and make last-minute adjustments to their hair and makeup. Presenters and performers mingle with brand-new Oscar winners while dodging props and cameramen.
What you see on TV is Hollywood magic. Backstage is like a home movie, where everybody knows each other and they're all excited about putting on a show.
OSCAR SHOCK: As Marion Cotillard stepped offstage with the best-actress Oscar for "La Vie En Rose," Forest Whitaker enveloped her in a hug that lasted at least a minute.
Then they looked at each other and laughed.
"I'm shaking, like wow," Cotillard trembled.
Stopping by the backstage "thank you" cam, she expressed her gratitude in French and studied her Oscar.
"I'm shaking so much I think I can't talk," she said.
Whitaker led her arm-in-arm behind the stage on the winner's walk.
"This is huge, this is huge," she gushed as backstage workers applauded.
At a stop for a makeup touch up she tried to breathe deeply.
"This is crazy, this is totally crazy. Ooh la la la la! It's totally surreal," she said.Tilda Swinton
was so stunned by her win for supporting actress in "Michael Clayton" that she could only keep repeating "wow, wow" as she walked offstage.
Presenter Alan Arkin chased her with the winner's envelope.
"Oh yes, this is the proof," Swinton said, leaving arm-in-arm with Arkin.
JITTERS: Katherine Heigl
wasn't kidding when she told the Oscar audience she was nervous.
Behind the scenes, a stagehand asked if she was OK.
"I just need a cigarette," she said, bumming one from a security guard and heading out to a loading dock.
NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOE BUSINESS: Adjusting her dress as she stepped into the theater wings and prepared to take the stage, Jennifer Garner
confessed to the stage manager: "I'd like to take my shoes off."
"We could do it," he replied.
Instead, she looked skyward and said, "I didn't mean it, karmic dressing gods," and walked in a small circle.
"I'm just going to make sure I'm not going to fall," she explained.
Rene Zellweger had slung her silver Christian Louboutins over her shoulder when Johnny Depp
ran into her.
"I like your shoes," Depp said.
"Thanks man," Zellweger replied. "I used to like the shoes."
STAR CLUSTER: At times it seemed there were as many stars in the green room as in the audience. Penelope Cruz
sat by her sister, Monica, and fanned herself. They were joined by Miley Cyrus, Johnny Depp
and companion Vanessa Paradis
, and Forest Whitaker.
Marion Cotillard was about to join them when she learned she would have to smoke outside.
CELEBRITY PLUMBING: The restroom just offstage was another Kodak Theatre hotspot. Jessica Alba
and Forrest Whitaker waited in line, and Javier Bardem brought his Oscar inside with him.
First-time presenters Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill passed the crowd on the way to the stage, but Hill paused and thought better of it. They joined lineup.
LADIES MAN: This backstage reporter was just trying to get out of Jack Nicholson
's way, but ended up in his crosshairs.
As he passed in a narrow corridor he brushed against her synthetic white fur coat.
"Nice jacket," he said half under his breath.
As the reporter thanked him, photographers in the hallway aimed their cameras.
"Let's have a picture," said Nicholson.