SAG Awards 2015: How the Winners Reacted Backstage

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Eddie Redmayne

See what Eddie Redmayne, Julianne Moore and Viola Davis had to say.

The 21st annual Screen Actors Guild Awards were given out Sunday at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Here's what the winners had to say backstage.

Birdman, Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Winner

"I think it had a huge appeal," said Michael Keaton, Birdman's leading man. "You're voted on by your peers, and I think actors like this movie for showing the courage actors have for going out and laying it all on the line. And they thought that as a group we all deserved a prize." Naomi Watts acknowledged that it accurately depicted the life of an actor, noting the difficulty in shooting the movie's extended scenes. "This was an extreme case because of these long, continuous shots. If you made a mistake, you're possibly destroying another actor's best work. It made it incredibly high-pressure," she said. "But if we all got it right as a team, it was like winning a race, which made it probably the most collaborative experience. Maybe actors understand better than anyone how we're all connected to one another."

Julianne Moore, Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role Winner for Still Alice

When it came to preparing for the challenging role, Moore acknowledged that she wasn't alone. "I had a tremendous amount of help," she said after admitting that she knew nothing about the disease and has been lucky enough not to have any family members affected by it. She began her research by contacting the Alzheimer's Association and then went to Mount Sinai Hospital to meet with specialists. She also attended a support group with other women battling the disease, and one 45-year-old woman in particular (a redhead like Moore) was instrumental in crafting the role. "They were so helpful and really helped me understand what it felt like," she said backstage. "In fact, a lot of the words in the script were taken from those women." Moore is thankful for the feedback she's received from the Alzheimer's community too. "They've told me that they felt seen and they felt understood, and that was really important because there's a lot of shame associated with the disease." How does she feel about being an Oscar frontrunner? "It's hard to think about it when people keep bringing it up!"

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Eddie Redmayne, Outstanding Male Actor in a Leading Role Winner for The Theory of Everything

"Peers, privilege and luck." Those are the three words Redmayne chose to sum up the SAG Awards. "I've been lucky over the years to work with amazing actors that have taught me everything I know," he said backstage. "And being recognized by your peers is just beyond extraordinary." He acknowledged that the most challenging part of portraying Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything was having to play him over a 25-year span. He called Hawking a "formidable man" and expressed concern over not wanting to let him down. How does Redmayne feel about the Oscar buzz surrounding him? "I wish I could articulate it. It's all a bit overwhelming," he said. "It's like a white noise of euphoria. It's a very wonderful sensation." When a member of the press pointed out that the SAG winner usually goes on to take home an Oscar, Redmayne replied: "I wish I didn't know that factoid — now I won't sleep."

Patricia Arquette, Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role Winner for Boyhood

After winning a Golden Globe just weeks ago, Arquette is adding a SAG award to her collection. Backstage, she emphasized the unlikelihood of a film like Boyhood making it to the big screen. "I can't believe this movie got funded because it breaks every role. It defies the logic of normal producing," she said, noting that star Ellar Coltrane could have dropped out at any point since they didn't have a contract with him. "This little movie is about human beings and is about bringing real life onto the screen," she continued. "The people that I worked with love art, love each other, love human beings and love taking chances."

William H. Macy, Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series Winner for Shameless

"I love the show," Macy gushed backstage after receiving his award. "I think it speaks to some truths that are off-putting because you don't see them coming. All kudos to John Wells for writing television better than anyone else who has ever done it." He was afraid that he might get bored with the role, but he assured the pressroom that he hasn't yet. "I was afraid that I would not enjoy playing the same character over and over. I was so wrong. I love it. I love going to work. I love my cast. I even love my trailer." Macy admitted that he and his co-stars are sometimes surprised by the script. "We say, 'Seriously, you want me what?' "

See more SAG Awards: Best and Worst Moments

Viola Davis, Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series Winner for How to Get Away With Murder

"Sexually messy, outwardly strong but inwardly vulnerable." That's how Davis described her now award-winning character, How to Get Away With Murder's Annalise Keating. It's the second SAG win for Davis, who took home a statuette three years ago for her performance in The Help. Backstage, she expressed her desire to see more women of all shapes, sizes and ages on television. She also noted that Cicely Tyson was the first actress that she was inspired by and that she saw the "magic of transformation" in her. When asked what age she would stay forever if she could, Davis didn't hesitate. "Twenty-eight. I had just gotten out of Julliard and thought I could conquer the world. I didn't know better. I didn't know life was going to be hard yet. I liked bathing in that ignorance." She left the stage by emphasizing her love for the art. "If you love what you do, that keeps you going."

Downton Abbey, Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Winner

The cast of Downton Abbey was on-hand backstage to celebrate the drama's second SAG Award win following the emsemble's 2013 victory. "This is my first time at the SAGs, so I wasn't here to experience our first win," admitted Joanne Froggatt, who is hot off a Golden Globe win for best supporting actress in a television series, also for Downton. "I feel so fortunate. What a month it's been for the show! I'm just so pleased."

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Orange Is the New Black, Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Winner

The cast of the Netflix dramedy crowded the podium backstage in two separate groups, including Uzo Aduba, who also took home a SAG for her role as Crazy Eyes in the series. Notably absent was star Taylor Schilling, whom co-star Natasha Lyonne explained was unable to attend due to her performance in the play A Month in the Country. The team emphasized the importance of diversity onscreen, with Lyonne noting: "We're all a little bit weird, and we're comfortable with that. We've found a home that appreciates that for a change." Fellow castmember Lea DeLaria, who plays Big Boo in the show, acknowledged the impact the show is having on the LGBT community. "I can assure you they are having watching parties this minute in every queer bar," she said. "And West Hollywood is dancing in the streets."

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J.K. Simmons, Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role Winner for Whiplash

"Some people are inspired by the movie, and others are sort of terrified of it," Simmons explained backstage. "That's one of the things I love about Damien's [Chazelle] work on the page and on the screen. People don't walk away from this movie with the same message." He also offered his own opinion of his turn as an abusive band instructor. "I personally wouldn't put up with my character." When talk of the Oscars arose, Simmons replied: "I honestly don't know what I'm suppose to do between now and then." He appreciates that it brings more attention to the movie and hopes that more people will want to see it.

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