Oscars’ doctor tells of nervous, drunk and injured actors

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Behind the glitz and glam of the Oscars, celebrities are stumbling over gowns and riddled with nerves – and it’s one doctor’s duty to ensure the show must go on.  

Dr. George Gauthier, known as the doctor to the stars, has been the Academy Awards doctor every year since 2000, and now Hollywood actors have grown to rely on him to settle their nerves or help patch up a few broken ribs after a nasty backstage fall.  

Dr. Gauthier tells DailyMail.com that pre-show nerves can turn even the biggest Hollywood star into a wreck and he’s expecting lots more of the anxieties backstage this Sunday at the 92nd Academy Awards.

He recalls one year when an actress who was about to receive an Oscar tripped backstage and broke her collarbone.

Dr. Gauthier explains: ‘She was being called to the stage and wasn’t prepared for it as she was still downstairs backstage when the call came out.

‘The Dolby Center backstage stairs are made out of concrete, so she hurriedly ran up the stairs, with high heels on, but tripped over her gown, collapsing into the stairs, and broke her right collarbone. She was in so much pain and couldn’t move her right arm.

‘I had only a few seconds to deal with this, it’s live TV, you can’t delay the awards, so I set the collarbone in place despite there being so much swelling. Set and go!’

Dr. Gauthier says: ‘I told her that she had to keep her right arm crossed over her gown to keep it in place, looking like Napoleon! We had to reassure her that she looked natural, but she was sweating so much with all the make-up on her face.

‘She did a great job and picked up the award one-handed. That’s acting right there!’ 

Though the actress made it through her speech, he says she had to miss the notorious after parties. ‘You can fake it for a minute and thank everybody, but backstage she fell apart, and we had to get her on a stretcher to the hospital.’

He tells of another Hollywood A-lister from the Marvel films who had a nasty injury on the red carpet when his knee popped out of place.

Without naming the star, Dr. Gauthier explains: ‘He was an older actor and starred in the Marvel films and had a knee condition. He was on the red carpet with hundreds of photographers and live TV, but his knee cap slipped and caused his leg to go rigid and lock. He couldn’t bend the leg. Imagine being on the red carpet and having to walk like a pirate with a peg leg? His knee cap had slipped to the outside of his leg and I had to push it back.’

The actor had to smile and wave even though he could barely walk. 

At one point Dr. Gauthier sat him down on the red carpet, did some manipulation to get the knee cap in and centered again and he was up and walking within five minutes.

In some instances, stars have felt faint at the show and it’s his job to make sure they get up on stage, even if he’s only got a few minutes until the stage call.

He says: ‘They fly in from all around the world to Los Angeles – sometimes you can have a bad flight or just feel like crap. I make them feel comfortable. They could have a bad stomach ache, or have a pain in their neck as they’ve slept wrong, or they could have been up the night before dancing with their crew and thrown their back out.

‘Imagine having to walk out on stage if you’d blown a disc the night before dancing and you can hardly take a step? He or she needs to walk onto stage and look good for the camera, so that’s when I’m called in.

‘I’m there in case they twist their ankle before walking on stage, or fall down the stairs. There’s certain techniques like pressure point medicine to have the show go on even if, say, Britney Spears twists her ankle.’

Dr. Gauthier says he helps the stars ease their tensions and anxieties at the show, especially for newcomers.  

‘If they win, it’s like a lottery ticket, they can make many millions more from their films. For them it’s the pinnacle of their career, they’ve worked all their lives in some instances for this. If they have nerves and jitters, the stress involved has a definite impact on the body,’ he says. 

‘Just to be nominated is a big thing, never mind win, so you bet we get some pretty big butterflies. Stress works on the body in many, many ways. People are physically sick, some people faint, high blood pressure, ringing in the ears. 

‘We’ve had people who have fainting spells, they can’t stay conscious, and they’re due to do a presentation. Imagine going out on live TV to do a presentation and your eyes are rolling into the back of your head, you can hardly stand up.

‘I’ve had instances of this where they’re due on stage with half an hour to go.’

He tells another story of a young actress who was sitting in her seat, didn’t feel well and ultimately fainted.   

‘She’d got a little over-excited rooting for one of her friends who was up for an award and had never been nominated before. So, during the commercial break, I rushed over. First thing she needed was some air.

‘I kept an eye on her pulse, but she had difficulty getting up, she couldn’t stand and there were lots of people coming over and asking questions. Thankfully I managed to resolve things within three minutes and back to live TV again as if nothing had happened,’ he says. 

Some of the celebrities show up to the show in ‘all sorts of states that can lead to trips and falls and slurred speech,’ he says.

One year an actress from Harry Potter showed up after partying too much and needed assistance getting out of the limo.  

‘They needed guidance to walk down the red carpet to stabilize themselves. We made sure they got some water, had them walk about, exercise it all off a bit. Definitely no more alcohol! They’d already had a big session!’

Dr. Gauthier adds: ‘We’ve had people with multi-fractured ribs, dislocated shoulders or collarbones, herniated discs in the neck or lower back. The worst thing is the hernia or disc in the back where the person can’t walk at all. 

He says a big issue is stars falling down the stairs at the Dolby Theater.  

‘There’s some [stairs]at the back in the Dolby Theater and they have to have the light backstage turned off. With people lined up – there’s lots of people – some either fall over flat on their face or over other people.

‘They’re actors, they don’t want to be walking like Groucho Marx on stage, they need to walk with a big smiling face, straight back and we need to get them to that place.

‘We don’t want them in a wheelchair, it doesn’t look good, the actor or Academy doesn’t want that. When it cuts to a commercial break, I’m very busy left, right and centre!’ 

Dr Gauthier is also doctor to the stars at the Grammys, Emmys, Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants along with numerous sports events. 

He was first asked by a Hollywood producer to be the doctor at the Billboard Music Awards back in the 90s. The producer was impressed with all the national charity work he was doing at the time.

For his day job, Dr. Gauthier, originally a chiropractor, has been running a clinic in Warrenville, near Chicago, for the last 26 years where he’s an ‘esteemed resource for pain management, rejuvenation and optimal health’, according to his website.

Now there’s not a single situation Dr. Gauthier isn’t prepared for. 

He says: ‘One of the most common for actors is a crick to the neck, which means your head falls to one side and is often twisted and contorted. This can lead to muscle spasm, which means it’s uncontrollable and you can’t move your head. You’re going on screen and you look like Marty Feldman from Young Frankenstein. 

‘They have an order of the show and how it’s going to be presented, so especially the bigger [awards]later in the show, [celebs]get a little more on edge as it gets closer and closer to their time on stage. 

‘Some people like being on the red carpet, some people don’t, they may suffer for three or four hours. They’re actors so they might act cool on the surface, but they can’t hide it from their bodies.’       

He says that a big threat for Miss USA and Miss Universe contestants is twisting an ankle in their heels. 

‘Many people have twisted their ankle, fallen down stairs and cricked their neck, elbow, ankle, whatever, multiple body conditions going on, but they have to look good walking onto the podium and for interviews later.

‘There was one year where the Miss Universe was in Quito, Ecuador [2004], we had 137 contestants and all of them came down with altitude sickness. The altitude level was near 10,000 feet.

‘I had multiple sickness and they couldn’t get out of the bathrooms. What do you do with them? You’ve got to thin the blood and calm them down, get them drinking water and take aspirin.

Dr. Gauthier says he’s even capable of delivering babies. 

‘Many years ago, they had Catherine Zeta-Jones there [at the Oscars], who was pregnant, and they had me there that, if she was to go into labour, we could get her treated and bundled to the hospital and make sure they’re ok. There are pregnant actresses at these awards.’ 

Dr Gauthier laughs, but admits that he helps celebrities flash their million dollar smiles. 

‘I think it’s very wise to look in the mirror and practice your smile. It’s not necessarily my forte, but they may ask: ”Hey doc, how does my smile look?” I’ll say it looks good. I’d be honest about it, but they’re probably asking their manager or PR more than me.

‘But I have to do life coaching at the Academy Awards. I’m getting them focused, they’ll ask me what sounds better, this or that, with a speech they’re doing. I get them centred, in a good state of mind, keep them up, some of the worries I put at ease. 

‘They come down if they don’t win and you’ve got to bolster them back up. You’ve seen the film, you’ve seen all the hard work they’ve put into it. 

‘We tell them how good they are as an actor otherwise they wouldn’t have been nominated, we re-frame their minds. They’re grateful for that, you’re always harder on yourself.’

He’s not only a doctor, but confidant, nutritionist and life coach. After all these years, celebrities feel so comfortable with him that he’s now the personal doctor for film, music and sports stars.

Dr. Gauthier adds: ‘It’s not really too bad for me, it’s more stressful for them, but they trust me with what I do and I’m a staple name around there now. I’ve never had instances where we could not get them up and going. We’ve been very fortunate never to have a heart attack, but always keep them calm, blood pressure low, and make sure they’re comfortable and happy.

‘I have a great rapport with them and, after meeting me, I do become their personal physician. It’s not the mainstay of my practice, but I travel all around the world doing that. I do a lot of tele-doctoring via Skype. I also do life and health coaching as well. I’m very fortunate.’ 

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