They paraded through the Dolby Theatre in 15-minute increments: Meryl Streep. Ben Affleck. Reese Witherspoon. Richard Gere. Jennifer Aniston. John Travolta. Nicole Kidman. Jack Nicholson. And dozens more.
Each practiced their lines in front of an audience of show workers and awarded prop Oscars to rehearsal actors. They also scanned the theater from the stage, searching for their show-night seats.
"Oh, wow. That's a very dramatic picture of me," best-actress nominee Jessica Chastain said after spotting her seat-saving placard. "I'm looking at everyone's headshots. It's kind of incredible."
Affleck confessed his excitement from the stage as he looked out at all the famous faces expected Sunday.
"This is like the most memorable aspect of the Oscars," the "Argo" director said. "You see all these place cards (at rehearsal), then you come back and they're all here!"
Affleck also chatted backstage with the college students who won a contest to serve as trophy carriers during the ceremony.
"I love that," he said. "It's super cool."
Travolta also took time with the students.
"I was there when that idea was born, and I said it was the best idea they could possibly come up with," he told the aspiring filmmakers backstage. "And here you are!"
Travolta plans to bring his 13-year-old daughter, Ella Bleu, to the ceremony.
Kidman made rehearsals a family affair. Husband Keith Urban and their eldest daughter, Sunday, watched from the audience as Kidman ran through her lines.
She looked impeccable in a wine-colored dress and tall, metallic shoes, but other stars were decidedly more casual. Kristen Stewart arrived in jeans, sneakers and a backward ballcap. (She also limped on an injured right foot.) Renee Zellweger also opted for comfort in jeans and running shoes.
The cast of "Chicago," including Gere, Zellweger, Queen Latifah and Catherine Zeta-Jones, injected their rehearsal with silliness. Latifah purposely over-enunciated her lines, and when a pair of rehearsal actors claimed an Oscar onstage and gave an acceptance speech, Zeta-Jones started to play them off with an imaginary violin.
"Get outta here!" Gere said with a smile.
Octavia Spencer, who won the supporting actress Oscar last year for her performance in "The Help," also had a little fun.
"I'm going to do a soft-shoe," she said, shuffling off stage.
Streep and Jane Fonda were each wowed by the set design. Fonda snapped a photo of it with her iPhone, and Streep marveled at how far the walk to the microphone was.
"All the way to here?!" she asked. "Oh, my God."
Halle Berry literally stumbled during her first rehearsal, her pointy heel catching on part of the stage. She insisted on trying again.
"Woo hoo," she said. "Made it."