How to get a seat at the Oscars

Empty seats at the Academy Awards? Never. Welcome to the world of seat-filling


Empty seats at the Oscars are a big no-no. On camera, the glitzy theatre needs to be both teeming with stars and generally jam-packed. Remember all those empty seats at the London 2012 Olympics? It’s not going to happen here. Enter… the seat-fillers.


Yes, waiting in the wings on Awards night are some exceptionally well-dressed volunteers, ready to dash into the seats of the rich and famous if they pop out during the ceremony.

This could be to collect an award, to take “a comfort break” or – as talk show host Oprah Winfrey says of her Oscars experience – for those stars not nominated who are going back and forth to the bar.

“Your job is to always be ready,” one seat-filler tells MSN he was instructed. “If Harrison Ford even thinks about having a bowel movement, you need to be in his lap.”

It can be a long waiting game. And there’s a process.

Seat-fillers at the Oscars are thought to be mainly Academy people. But your Average Joe gets their chance too.

There are seat-filler websites you can sign up to, with the general advice being to go for the more ‘low key’ events to get experience, make contacts and build up to the big ones.

A first-time seat-filler isn’t going to bag a spot next to Brangelina front row at the Oscars it seems.

If you are lucky enough to make it to the Academy Awards, a seat-filler can find themselves keeping anyone from George Clooney to Dame Helen Mirren’s seat warm.

If an actor doesn’t turn up at all, a seat-filler may get to occupy their spot all night, sharing the arm rest with whichever top Hollywood star is alongside.

Selfie heaven, right? Not quite. There are plenty of rules.

Seat-fillers absolutely have to have the right look, and reports of people being sent home for wearing the wrong outfit aren’t hard to find. Fillers also can’t talk to the talent, unless the talent talks to them first. Approaching talent “could be cause for removal from the theatre” states.

Melting into the wallpaper is the general idea.

Being called up for an event doesn’t always mean you’ll actually get in either. After all, like an absent star needs a seat-filler, a seat-filler needs a back up seat-filler.

Payment for seat-filling gigs appears to vary, with most sites suggesting you aren’t paid at all. But then you can’t put a price on sitting in Jennifer Lawrence’s seat or sidling up next to Leonardo DiCaprio when someone else nips to the loo, can you? You might even pop up on screen. Just resist the temptation to wave to your mum… 

Oscars 2014: Red Carpet Live from 11:30pm on Sky Living/Sky Movies