Celebrity after-parties are a strange beast.
For one, it’s a pretty arresting sight to take in so many of the stars, whom you usually spot while flipping through Us Weekly, mingling with one another over cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. You’ll never feel like more of an uncool outsider in your life.
My surreal evening at the Golden Globes parties began at 8:15 pm PT, I arrived mere moments after the ceremony wrapped (the night’s big victors were American Hustle and 12 Years A Slave on the film side, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Breaking Bad for TV). The line was around the block.
Through some shifty maneuvering, I cut the line and managed to be one of the first ones in. Since all of the parties are housed in The Beverly Hilton hotel, which also hosts the awards ceremony itself, it’s a total clusterfuck to get in—like the lifeboat free-for-all at the end of Titanic, but featuring a confusing mélange of Hollywood power players, their scantily-clad (and very enhanced) arm candy, and A-listers.
And, since all the parties are in one place, it’s like a buyer’s convention for the rich and famous. Signs scattered throughout the lobby lead you to various Globes parties with arrows. HBO this way. Weinstein/Netflix that way. InStyle/Warner Bros. straight ahead.
I opted for the InStyle/Warner Bros. party first—the night’s most ballyhooed event. After following the longest velvet rope walkway ever—it must have been half a New York City block—you reach the second check-in desk (they are not messing around here). There, you hand your ticket and driver’s license to the party police, who reconfirm that you’re not some de trop interloper. They brand your right hand with a glow-in-the-dark stamp, and in you go.
As soon as you walk in, you have to adjust your eyes to the tremendous star wattage on display. There’s (a pregnant) Olivia Wilde, Jason Bateman, and Kathryn Hahn mid-gigglefest; Mark Ruffalo singing the praises of Her to Best Screenplay winner Spike Jonze; Heidi Klum looking fierce in bangs; Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr awkwardly saying hi to her ex, Orlando Bloom, only for him to give her the cold shoulder, etc.
I grab a cocktail—some fizzy-vodka-bullshit concoction—and spot Joaquin Phoenix standing by himself sporting a casual, pullover sweater, and big, demented smile on his face (sans earpiece). I congratulated him on Her, my pick for the best film of the year. He was very pleasant, and seemed to be in good spirits. Behind Phoenix, the entire cast of The Big Bang Theory seems to be having a ball together.
As soon as I turn around, I spot Jessica Chastain leading a conga line to the back area of the party—albeit in a designer gown and diamond necklace, exuding classic movie star elegance.
“Amy Poehler and Tina Fey kick ass!” Chastain tells me. “They should host it every year.” We chat for a bit more, with the two-time Oscar nominee revealing that her favorite films of the year are Her, American Hustle, and 12 Years A Slave. “It’s been a really good year,” she adds.
On my way to the back-right corner of the venue, I spot Globe winner Jon Voight chatting with (a very slim-looking) Kevin Bacon, and in the back of the de facto “VIP Area,” Ben Affleck is locked in a deep conversation with Orange is the New Black star Taylor Schilling, who starred as his wife in Argo.
I keep making my way around the perimeter of the purple and red-tinted space, passing Mark Ruffalo, Josh Gad, and Orlando Bloom taking a selfie of the group while dancing and mock-yelling, “We won!”, until I hit the dancefloor. If Ben Affleck is the top dog at the rear of the party, Taylor Swift is the center of attention at the front of it. The pop diva dances feverishly with TV host Alexa Chung while a group performs a cover of Selena Gomez’s “Come & Get It” onstage.
There’s a line of stars waiting to be introduced to Swift, who’s flanked by her gigantic bodyguard. First up is Jon Voight who confesses his TSwift fandom (Golden Globe in hand), followed by Kelly Osbourne, then a dapper-looking Jared Leto, fresh from winning the Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe for his riveting portrayal of a transsexual dying of AIDS in Dallas Buyers Club. Leto whispers in her ear a bit before handing Swift his trophy. She stares at it, then stares at Leto, and shouts, “This is fucking crazy!”
[Swift is also, it should be noted, one of the more gracious celebrities at the fête. Every time I spot her, she’s being hounded by—and agreeing to pose with—various fans. She seems to be the only one doing this, period.]
On my way to the bar, I spot Channing Tatum with his wife, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, and Emma Watson. Then, I see Parks and Recreation star Adam Scott, drinking a bottle of Bud.
“Oh, it was wonderful,” Scott says of his co-star Poehler’s Globes win. “And, her and Tina were incredible hosts. Just incredible. As always, I think it’s hard to beat expectations a second time, and I think they exceeded them.”
Craving a change of scenery, I decide to leave the InStyle/Warner Bros. party. On my way out, I pass Star Trek’s Chris Pine and Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul.
And that terribly long velvet rope walkway? It’s now packed with lower-level celebrities waiting to get in to the party—probably two hundred people, total.
“I’m the editor of Her,” one guy yells at a flack. “Can I get in here?”
I cross over to the other side of the Hilton’s lobby to the Behind the Candelabra-themed HBO party. It’s a much quieter affair than the InStyle/Warner Bros. shindig, replete with giant trees, a red-tint, and the costumes Michael Douglas wore in the Liberace biopic on display. After grabbing a croquette of some exotic meat I spot Stephen Merchant, star of the HBO series Hello Ladies, flanked by a bevy of bottle-blond babes. Guess he’s doing just fine. Then, there’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus having an animated discussion with her Veep co-stars Anna Chlumsky and Reid Scott, as well as Candelabra stars Matt Damon and Rob Lowe holding court.
Yawn. I’m getting tired, and over all this star-fucking. Time to go.
In the lobby, I chat a bit with ex-Saturday Night Live star (and future Late Night host) Seth Meyers.
“They just come out, hit the ground, are full of confidence, and tell a ton of great jokes,” Meyers says of Poehler and Fey’s hosting duties. “It was brilliant.”
As I walk out the lobby of the Beverly Hilton, I see a man and woman on either side of an old man, guiding him towards a fleet of black SUVs. It’s Alexander Payne, Laura Dern, and her father, Bruce Dern, ambling together towards the curb. It was the loveliest sighting of the night.