Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to actress Keira Knightley when the actress in question was actually Felicity Jones.
LOS ANGELES — The tequila started flowing early on the red carpet. At about 3:07 p.m. Pacific time.
Some stars, such as “Boyhood’s” Ethan Hawke and best original song nominee Common, took the shot from Guillermo Rodriguez, the parking-lot attendant-turned-on-camera-character on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” Faith Hill and Tim McGraw declined.
“Hell no,” said the newly shorn McGraw. “I don’t trust you.”
It was, to be sure, a rare bit of the unexpected at an event that has become as rehearsed as an opera at the Met. But for the hundreds of fans assembled who had scored precious tickets to watch from the bleacher stands next to the red carpet, this celebrity stroll has become the main attraction.
“It’s the Super Bowl of fashion,” said Lori Clark, who came from Pittsburgh with her daughter, Alexa, 12. “There’s never enough red carpet.”
The wait felt endless, as long as six hours for some observers. But then, sometime before 3 p.m., the stars arrived. As they shuffled toward the Dolby Theatre, they were peppered with questions. Were there enough opportunities for African Americans in film? How do you feel about fact-checkers raising questions about films based on true stories? Michael Keaton, a best actor nominee for his turn in “Birdman,” got snippy when told of the handicappers who placed him as a slight underdog to “The Theory of Everything’s” Eddie Redmayne.
“I don’t believe or trust any of that,” he said, “and I’m not sure that’s what people are saying.”
Some took questions. Others, such as Julianne Moore, scooted by without stopping. Patricia Arquette scrambled down the line, clearly spooked by the Kimmel staff’s attempts to get her to take a shot and use their “tongue cam,” a phone on a selfie stick meant to be pointed into an open mouth.
John Singleton, who was nominated for best director more than two decades ago for “Boyz n the Hood,” was asked about whether “Selma” was snubbed and what that said about the movie industry.
He started by calling Hollywood a “fixed system.”
“It’s not going to change,” Singleton said. “It’s just a matter of making the best pictures possible. And protesting about it is not going to change it.”
Graham Moore, who wrote the screenplay to “The Imitation Game,” walked the carpet with his mother, Susan. He talked of the thrill of getting the movie made against considerable odds.
“I really want to write a film about a gay English mathematician in the 1940s who commits suicide in the end,” he said. “It’s not an idea a lot of movie executives want to hear.”
He was asked about those who have criticized the film, and others nominated, for taking liberties with some facts.
“It’s not what art is,” said Moore. “When you look at Monet’s water lilies, you never say, ‘those aren’t water lilies.’ You say, ‘that’s what looking at a water lily feels like.’ ”
Truth is, the red carpet is not built for complex conversations. It’s about seeing Scarlett and Bradley and Cate and who will dazzle, who will stupefy, whose attempt at sartorial splendor — remember Angelina’s right leg? Diablo’s cheetah schmatta? — will capture the Twittersphere.
The absurdity can be spotted in quick moments: A Los Angeles Police Department bomb squad officer was kept out because he didn’t have a credential, while a woman with celebrity Wolfgang Puck scooted through.
There were unexpectedly touching moments — Laura Dern walking slowly with her aging father, Bruce Dern — and unexpected comedy. Sara, of “Everything Is Awesome” singers Tegan and Sara, got caught in an interview scrum so close to will.i.am that she ended up stepping on his foot. She apologized and then giggled. She’d never met him before.
Composer Hans Zimmer, last seen jamming on a Telecaster during the Grammys with Pharrell Williams, talked about the surreal nature of his moment in the spotlight.
“I’ve had the most extraordinary two weeks of my life,” he said. “Being a guitar-wielding hooligan wearing a tuxedo here instead of being a rock and roller.”
Composer Alexandre Desplat was asked about being nominated for two films this year, “The Imitation Game” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” and which he preferred to win.
“Very good question to which, of course, I have no answer,” he said.
And then there was Felicity Jones, who somehow found herself holding a shot of tequila.
First, the actress put off the request by noting that she didn’t expect to win for best actress in “The Theory of Everything.” And she hadn’t prepared a speech.
Then, nudged by Rodriguez to drink up, she refused.
“Try some Mexican champagne,” he said.
“This,” she said, taking a sniff, “is not Mexican champagne.”
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