Being a high-profile celeb usually means having a primo poker face on at all times. With cameras at the ready, A-listers are veterans at not letting their true emotions get in the way of professionalism. Although, as much as we tend to put Hollywood’s elite on a pedestal, it turns out, they’re also humans just like the rest of us. Not exempt from perplexed expressions, unfortunate crying faces, looks of sheer shock, and even random physical malfunctions, it’s always juicy getting a glimpse of normalcy from our fave icons.
And live television, of course, is the best opportunity to sneak a peek at celebrities moonlighting as deer in headlights. Award shows are particularly adept at catching hilarious celeb reactions, thanks to audience cams that pan to the stars when they least expect it. These spur-of-the-moment delights have graced us with some of the most viral clips, memes, and remixes – providing us much more joy than the acceptance speeches themselves.
But it’s not just Hollywood’s biggest nights where celebs showcase their emotional range of everything from pure terror to deadpan expressions. Talk shows, red carpets, and sporting events have also left us howling — especially now that we know that Jerry Seinfeld isn’t a hugger and Drake is a master heckler. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and relive some of the most hilarious celebrity reactions caught on live TV.
It’s okay not to have a beautiful cry face, Chrissy
Although she got her big break as a model for Sports Illustrated, Chrissy Teigen soon started making waves for different reasons — she’s viewed as one of the most relatable celebrities in Hollywood. The model and cookbook author loves using social media to make fun of her husband, share candid thoughts about motherhood, and even talk about her stretch marks.
Of course, in true Teigen fashion, the supermodel managed to normalize even the Golden Globes in 2015 with her reaction to hubby John Legend winning an award. As Legend went up to accept his Globe for Best Original Song for « Glory » from the movie Selma, the model made a bizarre crying face that could only be attributed to an overwhelming amount of emotion. Of course, moments after the live recording panned to Teigen’s face, fans pounced, and the « Chrissy Teigen crying face » became a worldwide sensation. The Lip Synch Battle star was also quick to comment on her accidentally viral moment. « Sorry I don’t practice my cry face okay, » she mused, adding, « It’s been 5 minutes and I’m a meme. »
It turns out, her cry face wasn’t the last time Teigen would become an award show target. The Twittersphere went wild yet again during the 2018 Emmys when the mother-of-two appeared to cringe and duck out of a shot that panned to her in the audience.
The many faces of Winona Ryder
2002 saw Winona Ryder making major headlines for something other than her brilliant acting chops — she was convicted of two counts in shoplifting. 2017 had her gracing the tabs yet again, this time with a more pleasant header. The actress became a trending meme after the SAG Awards when she took to the stage along with the rest of her Stranger Things castmates to accept the award for Best Drama Ensemble. Proving she definitely has a wide range of emotion, Ryder first looked confused, furrowing her brow, then proceeded to raise her fist and silently cheer on David Harbour as he gave his speech. If that wasn’t enough, the confusion and bewilderment continued while she remained on stage, making Ryder an internet sensation by the time she returned to her seat.
An anonymous source told Page Six that the actress was « super embarrassed » by the incident, allegedly referring to it as « Facegate » with her closest friends. Harbour meanwhile spoke to People about the debacle, giving insight to the real reason behind his costar’s many faces. « She couldn’t hear me! Which I was confused by, because I was screaming! But apparently, she couldn’t hear me. » He then added, « She is just such a porous, expressive woman and actress — I think it just flowed through her like every experience — and I loved it. »
The greatest showman can’t hide his emotion
Known as the « nicest guy in Hollywood, » the online world erupted in a fit of giggles when Hugh Jackman gave us with the most honest reaction to losing an award on live TV. During the 2018 Golden Globes, James Franco beat Jackman for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy for his portrayal of Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist. Nominated for his role in The Greatest Showman, Jackman couldn’t hide his disbelief when Franco came up to speak, resulting in a stunned expression — mouth agog and eyes unblinking. Within moments, « confused Hugh Jackman » became one of the evening’s most relatable memes, sparking a series of GIFs and screencaps that left fans in stitches.
The most surprising part of the entire reaction? The interview Jackman gave TMZ a day before the award ceremony. When asked if he was going to take home another trophy, the Aussie quipped, « I don’t know if I’d put money on that, » laughing, before adding, « I think James, in my category. »
Although Jackman may have predicted his loss, some Twitter users saw it as a snub by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the industry group that hands out the awards. Considering The Greatest Showman took Jackman a whopping seven and a half years of filming, it’s easy to understand how fans felt astonished the actor walked away empty-handed!
These stars had perfect poker faces during a ‘family friendly’ performance
Miley Cyrus’ VMA performance in 2013 left audiences in complete shock — a whirlwind of proof that her Hannah Montana days were gone for good. A ball of energy in her latex ensemble, the pop star had her tongue out for the majority of the performance, twerking alongside Robin Thicke as he performed his hit single, « Blurred Lines. » While celebrities and Twitter users alike flooded the internet to express their awe, the most notable reaction came from six audience members at the award ceremony who didn’t show a lick of emotion. As the camera panned towards the crowd, viewers caught a glimpse of the One Direction boys and Rihanna, who sat close together with completely blank expressions. Apparently not impressed by the way the former Disney star was acting on stage, their faces were the perfect cherry on top to the otherwise totally extreme performance.
Shortly after, the lads were then quizzed by Yahoo! (via Mirror) about the debacle during a press conference for the premiere of their movie, This is Us. Their responses were cheeky, allowing them to still remain neutral. « It was very reserved. I think she’s quite shy and it’s about time she came out of her shell a bit, » Harry Styles joked, before adding, « You can sit and watch with your kids and your grandma. » Louis Tomlinson also quipped, « I don’t think she knew she would get so much attention from it. It’s family friendly. »
Drake’s incredibly close taunting
As an ambassador for the Toronto Raptors, it’s no secret Drake is one of the biggest supporters of his hometown’s basketball team. Regularly seen courtside cheering on his boys, Drake has served up countless endearing moments looking like any mega-fan would, given the opportunity to be so close to their favorite team. From taking his mom to a game, deciding to suddenly use a lint roller on his legs, to even mouthing off an opposing player only inches away from him, Drake is genuinely a diehard Raptors devotee.
Gracing us with the most entertaining display of passionate fandom in April of 2016, the « In My Feelings » rapper did what is probably the most distracting thing ever — he repeatedly clapped in a player’s face. As Rodney Stuckey from the Pacers hurled towards the singer and fell out of bounds at his feet, Drake didn’t help him up. Instead, he celebrated the opposing team losing possession of the ball by practically clapping his hands off at Stuckey’s ear as he walked away. While Stuckey told Candace Buckner of The Washington Post that he didn’t even recognize Drake was behind him, the internet surely did, making a remix to Vanessa Carlton’s « Thousand Miles » almost instantly.
The blunder that left these celebs in a mortifying la la land
The nominees for the 2017 Academy Awards were all such serious contenders, audiences had no idea what to expect. That’s why, when La La Land seemingly won, almost no one paused to wonder if there was any sort of mix-up. However, when the cast and crew came up to accept the award and give their speeches, they were interrupted and told Moonlight was the real victor.
Bonnie & Clyde costars Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were on stage to announce the winner for Best Picture, while the front row watched on in pure horror. The star-studded section consisted of Busy Philipps and BFF Michelle Williams, Casey Affleck, Ben Affleck, and Meryl Streep. As Philipps told her fans in an Instagram video later on (via People), she started « panicking and shaking » right as the victor was being announced. But how did she know something was amiss?
According to Philipps, the front row knew what was going on before anyone on stage was informed. « All of a sudden this stage manager … crouched in front of Casey and started whispering into his microphone really urgently and saying, ‘It’s a mistake! Moonlight is supposed to be Best Picture. » Their looks of terror went on to be a trending photo from the night, and Philipps herself joked that she planned on framing the legendary moment.
A swift split-second mix up
A pop album powerhouse, Taylor Swift is probably used to collecting awards as much as she is ex-boyfriends. In fact, before her Grammy nomination for Album of the Year for Red in 2014, the « Blank Space » crooner already had seven of the coveted awards! So, it’s not surprising that the ambitious pop star was slightly disheartened after she misheard the winner during the unveiling above. With the cameras locked in on all of the nominees, Alicia Keys opened up the envelope and announced the winner for Album of the Year – Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories.
It’s during this moment that viewers got a glimpse of Swift for a split second, mouth wide open in utter shock, thinking she had won. Opening up to Grammy Pro (via Billboard), Swift explained the incident. « When they announced the Album Of The Year winner, it was like, ‘And the album of the year goes to…Reeeeeandom Access Memories, Daft Punk! And they really dragged out the ‘reeee.' » The singer was apparently so upset, she went straight home and didn’t even attend any of the afterparties! « I went home and I cried a little bit, and I got In-N-Out Burger and ate a lot. »
Definitely pushing herself to come out on top, Swift’s next album that came out, 1989, was a bonafide hit, winning her the coveted Album of the Year award in 2016.
Is History repeating itself?
One of the most talked about moments in award show history was Kanye West interrupting a mortified Taylor Swift as she went on stage to accept her award for Best Female Video for « You Belong With Me, » at the 2009 VMAs. Beating out Beyoncé’s « Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It), » West decided to go after Swift on stage and grab the microphone from her, declaring that « Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time. » The entire crowd was speechless — Beyoncé included.
Well, it turns out history almost repeated itself at the Grammys in 2015, when Beck’s Morning Phase was chosen over Queen Bey’s Beyoncé for Best Album of the Year. As the alt-rock legend went on stage to give his speech, West followed, with the audience in disbelief. The camera, of course, panned to Beyoncé and Jay-Z, causing fans to catch a glimpse of Jay-Z’s face fill with total dread. Thankfully, Yeezy was just joking around, reaching the stage only to head back to his seat quickly.
It turns out, West wasn’t joking too much, speaking to E! News after the ceremony and exclaiming that Beck « should have given his award to Beyoncé. » Fans alike were also serious, with #WhoIsBeck becoming a trending hashtag on Twitter. Regardless of your opinion on the Loser hitmaker, we’ll still always have that GIF of a momentarily mortified Jay-Z forever.
Jerry Seinfeld isn’t a hugger
Kesha found herself — in her words — in her « very own mini episode of Seinfeld » during the Night of Laughter & Song at The Kennedy Center in 2017. The « TiK ToK » songstress became a cringe-worthy viral sensation after she snuck up on Jerry Seinfeld in the middle of an interview on the red carpet. Interrupting her idol, the singer asked for a hug not once, but three times, only to get rejected. As Kesha quite literally bolted away, Seinfeld laughed it off with the interviewer, admitting he had no idea who she was. Once he was told it was Kesha, he continued chuckling, exclaiming, « I wish her the best! »
As the comedian later revealed to Extra, « I’m 63, I don’t know every pop star … I don’t know everyone. » It turns out, he spoke to Kesha backstage about the incident later in the evening and mentioned she was very nice about it. So, did he end up hugging her? « No! »
Unfortunately, Kesha had to relive the moment chatting to Hits1 in Hollywood (via Daily Mail) where she confessed she was a major fan of the hit ’90s sitcom, having watched every episode « a thousand times. » The hosts then asked her if she had a message to pass on to the legendary actor. The pop star joked, « I should have known better, I’ve seen the hugging episode! »
An eye roll geared at the toilet of the internet
Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper were front and center in the spotlight after the release of their critically acclaimed movie, A Star Is Born, and the subsequent hit song to come out of the film, « Shallow. » While both the flick and the single received plenty of recognition throughout awards season — « Shallow » won a coveted Oscar and a Golden Globe — it’s the chemistry between the two leading roles that’s been the talk of the town. Besides openly gushing about each other repeatedly, Gaga going viral with an incredibly romantic quote about the duo, to their steamy Oscar performance of « Shallow » that sent the Twittersphere wild, these two have been fighting affair rumors on the regular.
Only days after their hot and heavy Oscar performance, Lady Gaga appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to address the rumors, but not before giving Kimmel an epic eye roll. She then went on to squash the goss, saying, « First of all, social media, quite frankly, is the toilet of the internet. And what it has done to pop culture is abysmal. Yes, people saw love and guess what? That’s what we wanted you to see. This is a love song. » As Kimmel continued to pry gently, Gaga was quick to note, « I’m an artist and I guess we did a good job. Fooled ya! »
The original VMA shocker
No award show moment has come close to the amount of publicity that the original VMA shocker gave us in 2003. Who can forget the iconic kiss shared between Britney Spears, Madonna, and Christina Aguilera? Setting the stage, Spears came out with Aguilera performing Madonna’s timeless classic, « Like a Virgin, » only to be joined by the grandmother of pop herself. As the pop stars slinked on stage, they only paused to grace us with the timeless moment — Madge pulling Spears close to her for a smooch. The fact that Madonna then kissed Aguilera next wasn’t even relevant — the camera immediately panned to Spears’ ex, Justin Timberlake. Only a month after releasing « Cry Me a River » (which was allegedly about Spears cheating on Timberlake), the former NSYNC member watched the spectacle with a completely deadpan expression.
Years later in 2018, Timberlake released his book « Hindsight, » where he discussed writing his hit revenge track. Explaining he wrote the song in two hours because he had « been scorned » and « pissed off, » it’s no wonder he watched that VMA performance as expressionless as he did in a room full of hysterics.
The most awkward clap in audience history
Presenting at an award show must be a nerve-wracking experience. Making sure you’re reading the lines right, thinking about not tripping as you walk on stage, and making sure you’re couture outfit doesn’t « malfunction, » are all valid fears, even for A-List presenters. That’s why, when you have the opportunity to relax and take in the ceremony as an audience member, you can completely unwind, thinking nobody will pay you any attention. That’s exactly what Brendan Fraser did, yet unfortunately for him, he still became a trending meme.
When Robert De Niro began his speech to present Martin Scorsese with the Lifetime Achievement Award during the 2009 Golden Globes, he told a quick joke. The cameras then panned to Fraser who was clearly enjoying himself, resulting in a bizarre clap-and-point reaction that became a viral sensation. What was probably the strangest clap anyone has ever delivered even got remixed to Gwen Stefani’s « Hollaback Girl. »
Obviously, fans around the world were wondering what exactly happened to Fraser, and if this sort of clapping occurs on the regular. The actor opened up about it on Lopez Tonight, explaining, « The truth was, I wasn’t presenting, so it was just my job to sit there and have a good time. … I just spazzed. » Aw, the poor guy was merely caught up in the moment!