Inside Critics Choice Awards: ‘Hacks’ Gets New Cast Member; Will Smith Wants to Work With ‘Belfast’ Star; Security Shuts Off Red Carpet

Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dog” and “Ted Lasso” were the big winners at Sunday night’s Critics Choice Awards, as was Will Smith. But when the statuettes weren’t being handed out in front of the camera, there was plenty going on off stage.

Waiting Game

The show had even started yet, but everywhere you turned there was a bottleneck. Members of the press were stuck in line checking in up to the minute before the carpet opened because a computer glitch apparently lost everyone’s registration with proof of vaccination and negative COVID test. Then once the carpet opened, security wouldn’t allow many celebs, including Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo and “It’s a Sin” star Olly Alexander, to walk the arrival line when things got a bit too congested. “Evil” star Andrea Martin was the last person allowed onto the carpet. Danielle Brooks summed up it up best when she posted a photo on her Twitter sitting at the foot of the stage. “Didn’t get to do the @CriticsChoice red carpet because it was literally a <poop emoji> show so decided to hit the stage instead,” she wrote. “#goodtimes we don’t need no carpet to turn it out!”

Waiting for everyone at their tables were dinner plates with large scoops of green hummus and two pieces of bread. Bottles of Fiji water glowed from illuminated silver-colored coasters.

“Hacks” Attack

“Hacks” co-stars Jean Smart and Hannah Einbeinder walked the carpet together, where they exclusively revealed to Variety that Margaret Cho will make an appearance on the second season of their hit HBO Max series. They also said they are also hoping Rosie O’Donnell will pop up on the show.

Party Crashers

There appeared to be a number of party crashers in the crowd who had no obvious connection to the awards. It’s not clear, but perhaps they could have been recipients of tickets that were swiped from the check-in table by a mystery man about 20 minutes into the show. Security went looking for him, but no word if they found the culprit.

Say Cheese

Photographers ran to the front of the ballroom during each commercial break to snag pics of the A-list crowd. Jodie Turner-Smith proved to be a popular subject with shutterbugs capturing her with several fellow celebs, including Aunjanue Ellis, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ava DuVernay and more.

Kristen Stewart kept a low profile, sitting for most of the evening hand-in-hand with her fiancé Dylan Meyer. Guillermo del Toro chatted with many people while screenwriter and wife Kim Morgan wrapped her arms around him. Molly Shannon let out an “Oh, my God” when she saw Venus Williams.

Of course, this wouldn’t have been the CCAs without the annual ritual of many of members of the Critics Association aggressively crowding celebs asking for selfies.

Family Affair

Sitting at the “Tick Tick … Boom!” table next to star Andrew Garfield was Julie Larson, sister of the musical’s late creator Jonathan Larson. “I know I’m a bit biased, but Andrew’s is my favorite performance this year,” Larson, who is an executive producer of the musical movie, said before Miranda asked to take a photo of the two.

Power Table

The “King Richard” table was the evening’s hot spot. Denzel Washington came over and kneeled down to chat with Jada Pinkett Smith and Venus Williams. Halle Berry did the same after she accepted this year’s SeeHer award. “Pose” star Angelica Ross chatted with Serena Williams. Fresh from his best actor win, Will Smith kissed Ellis on the hand but not before having a chat with 11-year-old “Belfast” star Jude Hill. “I hope to work with you one day,” Smith told the young actor. “All of that talent and all of that energy.”

Hill smiled, “That means so much to me coming from you!”

Later, the Williams sisters headed to the Netflix afterparty. Despite Campion getting slammed for her remarks in her acceptance speech about the tennis champions, the director and the star siblings danced together along with Maggie Gyllenhaal and the streaming platform’s big boss Ted Sarandos.

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