With its open bar and relaxed table seating, the Golden Globes have long been considered the rowdier, more informal version of the Academy Awards; and over the years the event has produced a seemingly endless number of candid speeches and scandalous moments, from overserved starlets to unpredictable political pontificating and at least one poorly timed bathroom break. This year? Call us crazy, but we’re anticipating even more viral moments—even as nominees dial in from home. In anticipation of Sunday’s ceremony, we’re taking a look at the most shocking moments from Golden Globes past.
Beyoncé makes a fashionably late entrance
Queen Bey was nominated for Best Original Song for a Motion Picture for her work on The Lion King’s “Spirit,” but—as befits musical royalty—she skipped the beginning of the 2020 ceremony, sneaking in to the back of the venue just as Kate McKinnon was introducing Ellen DeGeneres for the Carol Burnett Award. Although Beyoncé didn’t win in her category that year, her subtle yet distinct entrance still belongs in the Globes hall of fame.
Michelle Williams speaks out for reproductive rights
It’s nothing new for celebrities to focus their awards speeches around political issues, but when Williams got up to accept a Globe for her role in Fosse/Verdon in 2020, she did so with a speech nobody could forget. “I’m grateful for the acknowledgment of the choices I’ve made, and I’m also grateful to have lived at a moment in our society where choice exists. Because as women and as girls, things can happen to our bodies that are not our choice,” Williams said, reminding women to “vote in your own self-interest. It’s what men have been doing for years, which is why the world looks so much like them.”Photo: Getty Images
Seth Meyers calls out Hollywood’s predatory past and present
“It’s time to address the elephant not in the room: Harvey Weinstein,” Meyers said during his opening monologue as host of the 2018 awards ceremony. “But don’t worry, he’ll be back in 20 years when he becomes the first person ever booed during the ‘In Memoriam.’” Shortly after, Meyers took on Kevin Spacey, who had just been replaced by Christopher Plummer in All the Money in the World after accusations of sexual misconduct surfaced. “They’re going to do another season of House of Cards. Is Christopher Plummer available for that, too?” Meyers asked. “I hope he can do a Southern accent because Kevin Spacey sure couldn’t.” He also took on Trump at the end.
Elizabeth Taylor goes rogue on stage
It’s no secret that Taylor liked to indulge in cocktails, and it seemed she might have done just that at one Globes appearance. In 2001, the Hollywood legend was tasked with giving out the award for best drama picture and caused a kerfuffle with her unusual take on the announcement. “What, I don’t open this?” she asked, holding the all-important envelope. Thankfully, Dick Clark helped her out, explaining that she had to actually say who the nominees were first.
Renée Zellweger’s ill-timed bathroom break
Zellweger was nowhere to be found after Hugh Grant announced her as the 2001 Golden Globe winner for best actress in a musical or comedy for Nurse Betty. It was only after Grant started accepting the honor on her behalf that the actor finally rushed onto the stage and admitted she had been in the bathroom taking lipstick off her teeth when her name was called.
Emma Stone loudly apologizes for her whitewashing role in Aloha
Host Sandra Oh made a joke at the 2019 Golden Globes about the 2015 film Aloha, which cast Caucasian actor Emma Stone in a role that was written for a part-Hawaiian, part-Chinese woman. The joke wasn’t totally shocking, as the movie received a high level of scrutiny for the casting choice, which many saw as whitewashing; the real surprise was hearing Stone yell “I’m sorry!” from her seat in the audience.
Brad Pitt shows some love to an anti-diarrhea medication
When Brad Pitt won the Golden Globe for best supporting actor for his role in 12 Monkeys in 1996, he took the opportunity to thank a somewhat unorthodox source of support. “I’d like to thank...actually, the makers of Kaopectate,” said Pitt, adding, “They’ve done a great service for their fellow man.” Pitt explained off-camera that he relies on the medication to heal his nervous stomach.Photo: Getty Images
Ricky Gervais’s second hosting stint falls flat
After hosting the Globes in 2010, the British comedian was back at it the following year. During his opening monologue, he managed to tackle Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Charlie Sheen, and many more in about five minutes. Even more shocking, Gervais was asked to return as host for a third time in 2012—and is coming back to the podium in 2020.
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s take on Hollywood’s leading men
Fey and Poehler should teach a class (or at least Gervais) on how to host awards shows that make your audience laugh while simultaneously poking fun at them. Who can forget their memorable dig at George Clooney? “Gravity is nominated for best film. It’s the story of how George Clooney would rather float away into space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age.” Or this Leonardo DiCaprio joke (at the 2:34 mark)—which is too dirty to write out.Tina Fey and Amy Poehler onstage during the 71st Annual Golden Globe Awards in 2014.Photo: Getty Images
Bette Midler’s Golden Globes joke
It’s actually a bit surprising that no one else has made use of the easy “Golden Globes” pun since Bette Midler’s joke back in 1980.
Jacqueline Bisset’s rambling acceptance speech
Jacqueline Bisset might have won her Golden Globe in 2014 for her role in Dancing on the Edge, but her best performance was by far her acceptance speech. A visibly moved Bisset made little sense throughout, while also dropping a couple of censored words and ignoring the cutoff music entirely. She even offered up some awkward advice before leaving the stage, saying: “I believe, if you want to look good, you’ve got to forgive everybody. You have to forgive everybody—it’s the best beauty treatment.”
Jack Nicholson admits he’s high on Valium
After winning the best actor in a drama award for his role in About Schmidt, the always-charming Nicholson said he was shocked since he thought the film was, in fact, a comedy. He then went on to poke fun at his costars before finally admitting he had taken some Valium that evening.
The awards show is canceled in 2008
During the Writers Guild strike in 2008, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association was forced to cancel the awards ceremony after members of the Screen Actors Guild (a.k.a. Hollywood’s finest) pledged not to cross picket lines outside. With the threat of an empty red carpet, the awards ceremony was replaced that year with a televised press conference announcing the winners instead.
The Golden Globes ceremony was cancelled due to a Writers Guild strike in 2008.Photo: Getty Images
Jodie Foster’s (sort of) coming out speech
The notoriously private Jodie Foster surprised everyone during her acceptance speech for her Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award in 2013 by (maybe) coming out of the closet. During her monologue, the actor deadpanned: “I guess I have a sudden urge to say something that I’ve never really been able to air in public...But I’m just going to put it out there, right? Loud and proud, right? So I’m going to need your support on this. I am single.”
Jeremy Renner admires J.Lo’s décolletage
When presenting the award for best drama miniseries at the 2015 ceremony, Jennifer Lopez asked copresenter Jeremy Renner who should open the envelope to announce the winner. “You want me to do it?” she asked. “I’ve got the nails.” Renner then took a peek at Lopez’s plunging neckline and quipped, “You’ve got the globes, too.” The audience gasped, but at least J.Lo seemed more flattered than annoyed.
The constantly bleeped-out presenters in 2016
The 2016 Golden Globes was a censor’s nightmare. First came Amy Schumer’s use of the C-word while bantering with Jennifer Lawrence. Then host Ricky Gervais (not exactly known for his propriety at these things) asked Mel Gibson to explain his expletive-filled rant during the actor’s 2006 arrest. And then to wrap it all up came Jonah Hill with F-bomb after F-bomb during a comedy bit that Jane Fonda did not find at all amusing.
Tina Fey calls out her Internet haters
During her acceptance speech in 2009, the 30 Rock star graciously reminded the audience that if you’re ever in danger of feeling a little too good about yourself, you should just go on the Internet.