It was the most awkward, cringe-inducing, watch-through-your-fingers moment in Oscars history, and Faye Dunaway found herself right at the centre of it.
Viewers around the world watched, open-mouthed, as Faye joined her ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ co-star Warren Beatty to present the statuette for Best Picture at this year’s Oscars, open the envelope, hesitate and then call it for ‘La La Land’, wait for all the jubilant makers of that film to assemble on stage and start thanking everyone... before Warren Beatty had to clear his throat and announce that there’d been a bit of a mix-up, and the winner was, in fact, ‘Moonlight’.
Last week, Warren reflected on the terrible moment, calling it “chaos”, and now Faye has broken her silence on the mayhemic moment watched by millions, saying she thought her co-presenter was just having a joke at first.
“We took the card out, and he didn’t say anything,” Dunaway told NBC Nightly News. “He paused, he looked over me, off stage … and I finally said, ‘You’re impossible!’”
“I thought he was joking. I thought he was stalling. Warren’s like that, he kind of holds the power … but it’s part of his charm. I read the name of the film on the card.”
Faye added that, afterwards as the chaos descended, she felt responsible for her part in the mix-up.
“You don’t know what has happened,” she said. “I [felt] very guilty — I thought I could have done something, surely, why couldn’t I have seen Emma Stone’s name on the card?”
In fact, the error belonged to the two Price Waterhouse Cooper accountants given the apparently straightforward job of ensuring the envelopes contained the right names, and were opened at the right time.
The Academy Awards committee has since confirmed they will continue to use the accounting firm on Oscar night, though not the two individuals involved, particularly after one of the senior execs was caught taking pictures on his phone backstage when perhaps he should have been attending to the envelopes.