By Andrew Dalton
LOS ANGELES — All at once, they were everywhere.
After claiming their biggest triumph yet in an awards season full of them — the Screen Actors Guild Award for best ensemble to go with three of the four individual film SAG Awards — the cast of “Everything Everywhere All at Once" was supposed to head backstage as a group to be led through the kitchen at the Fairmont Century Plaza in Los Angeles and into the area where a horde of cameras awaited winners.
But like the multiple versions of multiverse characters in the film that has become the Oscars favorite for best picture, the cast members — including best female actor winner Michelle Yeoh, best supporting male actor winner Ke Huy Quan and best supporting female actor winner Jamie Lee Curtis — scattered all over the place, some back into the audience, some to the bathroom, some who-knows where.
Of the top-billed cast, only 94-year-old James Hong showed up backstage, where an Associated Press reporter was waiting to embed with them on their victory lap. Hong, as the senior member, gave the last speech of the night and took full advantage, talking at length about his 70 years as a member of the acting guild.
“I hope I will come back when I’m 100 years old!” Hong said to close his speech.
Andy Le and Brian Le, who play minor but menacing martial artists in the film, were nothing but gentle as they each took one of Hong's arms and helped him down the makeshift stairs at the back of the stage and into the hallway.
Mark Wahlberg, who had just given the cast the night's biggest award, greeted Hong.
“I just wanted to say hi,” Wahlberg said with a smile. “You are truly a legend. You brought the house down.”
Hong, Le and Le slowly made their way through the kitchen and back into the spotlight of the media room, where castmate Tallie Medel awaited them.
Curtis, an upset winner over Angela Bassett in her category, was next to appear, holding one of the blue, stone SAG statuettes and wearing a red gown.
“Alright, I’m here sorry, sorry, I had to pee!” she said.
Jenny Slate, who plays Debbie the Dog mom, Yeoh's laundromat customer-turned fighting foe in the film, emerged from another hallway, as did Harry Shum Jr.
Yeoh then burst through a door from the ballroom like a gowned version of one of the many action heroes she has played through the decades.
She was followed soon after by Quan, who played several incarnations of her husband in the film.
“Coming everyone!” Quan shouted as he bounded gleefully into his castmates.
Photographers began shooting pictures, but Curtis wouldn't have it until the whole ensemble had assembled. Stephanie Hsu, who plays Yeoh's daughter and antagonist in the film and was also nominated in Curtis' category, was not among them yet.
“Wait wait wait, wait until Stephanie is here!” Curtis said. Pointing at each person shooting photos, she said, “You, put the camera down, you, put the camera down. Not without Stephanie.”
While they waited, they noticed Brendan Fraser, best male actor winner for “The Whale,” standing nearby with his trophy, looking overwhelmed. Several walked over to celebrate him.
“I’m so glad I got to watch you have this beautiful moment," Slate told him.
Quan reached up and gave the much larger Fraser an enthusiastic hug.
“You made me cry again!” Fraser told Quan, who had given a tearful speech about becoming the first Asian actor to win his award.
Quan, who like Fraser has made a dramatic comeback after a long Hollywood hiatus, is likely to get another opportunity at the Academy Awards on March 12.
After also taking the top prizes at the Directors Guild and Producers Guild awards, it would be a stunner if any film other than “Everything Everywhere” wins best picture at the Oscars.
When Hsu finally appeared, Curtis told the photographers to shoot away.
The cast shouted for Fraser join them for photos. Hesitating at first, he gave in and joined them, his eyes beaming. “We did it!” he said as they smiled for cameras.
The group has won so many awards, it was becoming hard to keep track of them.
“I put one down and it's lost,” Curtis said.
“Wait, Michelle has two!” someone shouted.
Quan, Yeoh and Curtis then posed individually while holding an award in each hand. Curtis handed one to Hong, who pretended he couldn't bear its weight before cradling the statue like a baby.
Daniel Scheinert, the film's co-director with Daniel Kwan, watched from the side and stayed out of pictures, letting his actors have the stage on this night.
When Yeoh saw Scheinert, she hurried over and hugged him. Several photographers descended on the duo. Scheinert didn't stop them, pointing out he had been an actor of sorts in his movie.
“I had a cameo,” he said. “That counts.”