Pollock's supporting actress winner Marcia Gay Harden revealed that her nominated leading man (and Pollock director), Ed Harris, had tried to prepare her for the agony of defeat. "A couple days ago, he said, 'Just practice saying, And the winner is... everyone else's name, and you'll be fine.' [So] when [I heard] my name, all I could think was, 'Oh my gosh.'" Overwhelmed, Harden who told TV Guide Online that she had just signed to play "a pop culture history professor" in CBS's upcoming Richard Dreyfuss drama The Education of Max Bickford realized that she had forgotten a few VIPs in her brief acceptance speech. "You know," said the former waitress, "I swore that if I ever won an Oscar, I would say thank you to all the waiters and waitresses who used to cover my shift so I could run downtown on the subway and audition. I wish I'd [remembered] them."
Veteran producer Dino De Laurentiis (Blue Velvet, King Kong, Hannibal) who received a standing ovation after being presented with the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award by Hannibal Lecter himself, Anthony Hopkins struggled with his English, choosing at times to answer questions in his native Italian. (He wasn't the only one who made use of a translator: Tan Dun, the original score victor for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, spoke to the press partially in Chinese, as did Peter Pau, who won best cinematography for Crouching Tiger).
Gladiator's best actor conqueror, Crowe, chose to remain in the audience after his trip to the dais. And when he finally emerged in the press room at the conclusion of the show, he issued a stern edict to reporters. "I'm into short answers," warned the restless star. "Ask me questions that I can answer yes or no [to], and we'll get on really well." At least, the heartthrob deigned to expound a bit when asked what was most challenging about shooting the Roman epic. "In truth, it was the physicality," he said. "I got very heavily beaten up on this movie. But it was a really enjoyable experience. All the little skirts and stuff aside, I quite enjoyed it."
Roberts wasn't nearly as prickly with the press. Still beaming after her triumph, the erstwhile Pretty Woman maintained a playful attitude. When asked if she was being signaled to wrap up her speech, she joked, "Sure. Everybody tries to shut me up. It didn't work with my parents, [and] it doesn't work now. A gal's gotta have her moment, right?" America's sweetheart also mentioned that last year's winner, Hilary Swank, had been giving her pointers all night. "Every time she passed me, she would say, 'Breathe... just breathe,'" Roberts related. "It's not so easy in this dress, but I'm doing the best I can."
At one point, Roberts pointed out that she had forgotten to thank the real Erin Brockovich, who was at home nursing a sick child and could not attend. "During my out-of-body experience earlier tonight, I didn't acknowledge her, shamefully," Roberts sighed. "Really, she is the center of the universe, of our movie." The golden girl went on to say that she planned to send a get-well gift to Brockovich's youngster. (Judging by the length of her speech, it wasn't going to be the high-definition TV set that Oscar producer Gil Cates promised to present to the winner with the shortest acceptance speech.) When asked what went through her head when her name was called, Roberts admitted, "I have no idea. I won't have a proper thought for, I'd say, six to 10 days, which is unfortunate because I start a movie in three. But it's with [Brockovich director] Steven Soderbergh, so I think he'll understand."
Speaking of Soderbergh, all the talk about his dueling directing nods for Brockovich and Traffic canceling each other out proved to be exactly that all talk. Still, he conceded that his Traffic victory caught him off guard. "I didn't see it coming," he said. "I was having a great time, got to see a lot of my friends get up there, and was very happy already... This is going to take awhile to process."
Cameron Crowe who earned best original screenplay plaudits for Almost Famous called his win "psychedelic and musical in a way," and said that it meant a lot to him because the autobiographical film healed some old family wounds. "The movie helped bridge the chasm between my mom and my sister," he explained. "That makes this particularly sweet."