The Oscars are essentially Hollywood's annual family reunion — yeah, the awards are exciting and the designer frippery is cool, but we're really here to watch our favorite actors squeal over each other. First up: Taraji P. Henson, in attendance this evening for Hidden Figures, gabbing with Pharrell Williams and Mimi Valdes. The actress crossed paths with Williams when she was headed for standard red carpet banter with Ryan Seacrest. Instead of giving a cursory nod or a polite hug to her friend, she stopped for a not-so-quick lovefest. Seacrest, gelled host that he is, had to stand with his microphone, looking more than a little uncomfy.
The 46-year-old gave a hug to Mimi Valdes, Williams' longtime collaborator, and chatted a little longer. And Seacrest kept standing. He pretended to file his nails. He tried to hand Henson the microphone — to no avail. Observe: the full interaction.
Sorry, Ryan Seacrest, but this is the night of stars, so you're just going to have to wait. When Henson did finally take the mic, she had powerful words to share. She told Seacrest that Hidden Figures was a "passion project" for her.
"When Ted Melfi, our director, sent me the script, I read it and I immediately got upset because I felt a dream had been stolen from me," she said. "I don't even care how much I was getting paid. It didn't matter...Projects like this don't come along often."
The film chronicles the trials of Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, three Black female mathematicians who worked for NASA. The historical tale is a personal one for Henson.
"I didn't know these women existed. I grew up in a time where math and science was for boys, so I chose the seats in the back of the classroom when it came to math and science because that was the understanding," she explained. "If I knew about these women I probably still would be an actress, but I'm just saying." Lucky for us, Henson's not a mathematician — she's an incredible actress, and we're all the better for it.
It should be noted that Henson's delighted encounter with Pharrell and Mimi Valdes was not the only time she showed some love. Cameras also caught Henson hugging an equally adorable Jackie Chan (who showed up on the red carpet carrying two pandas).