Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck and George Clooney (Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
Sure, Ben Affleck showed his appreciation for winning a Best Picture Oscar -- along with George Clooney and Grant Heslov -- but that didn't stop their school-boy giddiness backstage.
"Bingo!" Clooney said jokingly to the swarms of ooh-oohing reporters holding up numbered cards in hopes of being called on to ask the freshly minted Oscar winners a question.
All three winners produced some zingers when asked to review the trajectory of their chances to win:
Reporter: Obviously at certain points we thought that other films might win this. Could you describe when exactly you felt a tipping point in your favor?
George Clooney [half joking]: Michelle Obama.
Grant Heslov: Tonight.
Ben Affleck: When they gave us the trophies I was confident that we would win.
Clooney [deadpan, doing that famous Clooney head nod of self-satisfaction]: I'm completely confident.
Affleck: I didn't second guess, is this a prank?
Clooney: He did look at the envelope.
Heslov: Even as I was giving the speech, I didn't think we could win.
Affleck: Once Grant let me talk, I felt good. I didn't get too much into the "Oscarology" and the pontificating. And the guys who do that stuff and report on it, which is great, and people like it and they're interested in it. And I hope people are interested in the Oscars because it helps our industry and helps make better films, but it doesn't help me to read up on that stuff. So I was thrilled for Billy, I was thrilled for Chris, and when it came along, I was thrilled for these two guys.
At one point, Affleck and Clooney went into freestyle mode when one reporter seemed to go a bit too far, asking the winners to attend a special event. And just to warn you, Clooney got a little R-rated:
Reporter: Hello. I'm from the American Foreign Service Association in Washington. Your movie and also the comments you've made and all of the awards ceremonies has really raised the image and the profile of the Foreign Service, something that we don't get very often, we don't get much play. But I would like to invite you, all three of you to the plaque ceremony that we have in the Department of State on May 3, where we honor fallen Foreign Service officers. This year
Moderator: I'm sorry, I have to interrupt. Do you have a question?
Reporter: Yes. Can you come?
Clooney: That's really a personal question.
Affleck: Do I call you or just...
Heslov: I'm able to, yes.
Clooney : There's a line. There's Ben.
Affleck [for the save]: I don't know that we can come, but we do have, all of us, a tremendous respect for what the Foreign Service sacrifices and goes through and that we, I think, gained further appreciation for that as we shot the movie and visited the State Department. I know Secretary Clinton a little bit and Secretary Kerry a little bit better so we were able to shoot in the I'm not sure that that's why, but from my sort of distant acquaintanceship with both of those Secretaries, I've really picked up an appreciation for what the State Department does, what our Foreign Service does, what they sacrifice.
Clooney: Grant and I will be in Berlin shooting so we won't make it, but maybe Ben might be in town.
Affleck: Thanks, George.
The hilarity -- and a good dose of sincerity -- ensued when Affleck was asked to reflect on the fact that Michelle Obama presented his best picture award:
"I was sort of hallucinating when that was happening. In the course of hallucination... It doesn't seem that odd when some other -- 'Oh, look, a purple elephant, you know, Michelle Obama.' But it's natural because the whole thing is so unnatural. Honestly, I was just asking these two guys outside, was that Michelle Obama? The whole thing kind of alarmed me at the time, but in retrospect, the fact that it was the first lady was an enormous honor and the fact that she surrounded herself by service men and women was special and I thought appropriate. Anyway, it was very cool."
Heslov, chimed in, "And I'm a big fan of the bangs."