Who’s that Oscar guy? Meet Christopher McDaniel!
So what do you think a surprising number my friends wanted to talk about the day after the Academy Awards? The speeches by “Milk” winners Sean Penn and Dustin Lance Black? Well sure, but they also wanted to know WHO that handsome trophy presenter was on the telecast!
Well, I found out: he’s actor Christopher McDaniel and we had a nice chat a few days ago.
“It’s been a little surreal, a little crazy,” he says of the days following the Feb. 22 show. “My managers are getting a lot more calls for auditions and from producers. Things are starting to roll. Before, they had been a bit slow.”
Christopher got the luck of the draw and got to hand the trophies during all four of the major acting categories which featured five past winners during each presentation.
“During rehearsal, we had fake Oscars, little mock Oscars,” he says. “They were really, really light. They claimed it weighed eight-and-a-half pounds. I was holding a lot of them and they’ve got to be 15-20 pounds. But it wasn’t as easy as just handing an Oscar out. There was a lot of staging we had to do. I had all the major awards, supporting actress, supporting actor, actress, score, and best picture. I was in awe every single time. being in stage with Robert DeNiro and Adrien Brody and especially Anthony Hopkins. I can say I’ve worked with these guys!”
Here are some of his recollections from that night:
Daniel Craig: “Everyone was talking about how nervous Daniel Craig was before he went out to present. Even James Bond is nervous before he goes out there. Hugh Jackman was awesome. He came right up and introduced himself to me. I was stage right every actor and musician getting ready to go ion the Oscars right next to you. We were the only ones to have the director’s chair the whole time. Everyone was really nice. I talked to Ben Kingsley a little bit and I talked to a lot of the ‘Slumdog Miliionaire” people, I talked to practically everyone. John Legend was super nice.”
He had to be a little nervous interacting with all these big names in front of an international audience, right?
“I was absolutely blown away,” Christopher says. “I wasn’t sure how it would feel being on stage while looking out at every celebrity I’ve ever wanted to meet in my life. I knew I’ld be a little nervous. During rehearsals, thew seats just had pictures of people: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie up front, Sean Penn, Mickey Rourke. .For the actual Oscars, I knew if i looked out there, my heart might start racing.”
After the awards were over, he headed to the Governor’s Ball and had a seat that included Adrien Brody, Queen Latifah and the show’s producers Bill Condon and Larry Marks. Then he headed over to the Vanity Fair party where he rubbed elbows with the likes of Elton John.
“I’ve never seen so many photographers in my life going into that party. The highlight of my night was meeting Elton John at the Vanity Fair party and I talked to Ben Stiller about his role at the Oscar (Stiller spoofed Joaquin Pheonix’s recent appearance on Letterman.”
Before the Oscars, Christopher had shot a guest spot on the WB’s “90210″ that will air sometime in April. He plays a nude model in an art class. The native of North Carolina has many television credits and was set to have a role in the US version of “Footballers Wives” which ABC shelved. He had made an earlier splash in 2003 as an Abercombe and Fitch model.
I wondered what Christopher thought of all this attention from the gay guys: “I think it’s great,” he says. “First come the gays then come the women! Most of my friends out here in the industry are gay. It just works out that way. I don’t see people as gay or straight. I loved Sean Penn’s speech, it was the most amazing speech he could have given.”