James Earl Jones was one of three honorees at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Governors Awards ceremony Saturday night, but it was the actor's famous alter ego -- Darth Vader -- who unexpectedly made an appearance.
Dressed in full "Star Wars" regalia, academy president Tom Sherak took to the stage, pausing to remove his shiny black helmet before asking the audience, "How was your week?"
The costume almost certainly was meant in part as a tribute to Jones, who received an honorary Academy Award for his six decades in film. But the getup also helped bolster the generally convivial mood at the third annual black-tie gala, where academy members and Oscar aspirants gathered to salute Jones, makeup artist Dick Smith ("The Exorcist") and entertainment power broker Oprah Winfrey, who accepted the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award with an emotional off-the-cuff speech.
A tumultuous run-up to the event saw 2012 Oscar show producer Brett Ratner and his hand-selected host, Eddie Murphy, abruptly resign after a scandal erupted over Ratner's use of an anti-gay slur -- and producer Brian Grazer and comedian Billy Crystal stepped in to replace them. But the guests at the grand ballroom of the Hollywood & Highland Center seemed ready to put the incidents behind them and proceed with the business of awards season campaigning.
"It was an amazing week," said academy governor Marvin Levy. "I'm very happy with the outcome, and I think the majority of the academy is too. I'm also happy with how they handled it. We have a problem. Let's fix it. Done. Moving on."