SAG Awards: How the Winners Reacted Backstage

6:57 PM 1/30/2016

by Bryn Elise Sandberg

Here's what Leonardo Dicaprio, Viola Davis and other winners had to say about their kudos.

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  • Leonardo DiCaprio

    Best actor in a leading role for 'The Revenant'

    Jeff Vespa/WireImage

    “I just have so much respect for this art form. I really do,” said DiCaprio backstage, as several reporters took out their phones to snap photos of the Oscar-nominated actor. “I feel like we stand on the shoulders of giants. Any young actor that I speak to when they asked me how I started out, [I tell them] it was by watching movies. It was by watching what has been accomplished in our past. It’s a thirst that’s never quenched. Once you see a great film and a great performance, you’re always striving to get somewhere closer to what you remember as a child. So this coming from my fellow actors, it really means a great deal.” He went on to talk about his first role, which was a matchbox cars commercial. “I played a little gangster with slicked back hair,” he said, adding that the lesson he learned from it was to simply know your lines. “Just get that over with because once you learn your lines, then you can kind of settle into all the other moments in a scene,” he said. When asked what song best describes how he’s feeling about his win, DiCaprio laughed. “That’s a lot of pressure,” he said. “Damn, I want to, like, scoot off and then come back and tell you all. I got to get a minute to think about that one. That’s not going to come off the top of my head. I’ll get it to you though.”

  • Brie Larson

    Best actress in a leading role for 'Room'

    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    The best advice the Room star has received that’s helped her get to where she is today? Take a nap, revealed Larson backstage. “I did a film with Michael Chapman [a director of photography] when I was 15 years old and he really inspired me so much. He’s the only person I asked, ‘Can you give me some advice?’ He said, ‘Always take a nap at lunch.’ And I do stick to that. It requires so much energy to be an actor. Even taking a twenty minute nap recharges you and then you can go back out.” Larson went on to talk about how her experience on Room taught her about strength, noting that she put on 15 pounds of muscle for the role. “I was able to lift things that I never thought I’d be able to, and that became such a huge part of the routine of making this movie. [My trainer] would have me lift extreme weights over my head, and being able to deadlift before I came to work every morning gave me this mental change that I had before,” she said, adding: “It was an emotional marathon to make this.”

  • Michael Keaton

    Best performance by a cast in a motion picture for 'Spotlight'

    Getty Images

    Spotlight's Michael Keaton found himself back on stage for a second year in the row for the final award of the night, after Birdman took home the same trophy (for best cast in a motion picture) just last year. “I’m pretty sure Flint, Michigan doesn’t have an investigative team in the local paper. I stand corrected if someone can prove me wrong, but that’s what’s going on in journalism right now. Newspapers across the world are losing money and they don’t have the money to have an investigative team. Had there been one, I would argue that they may have been ahead of the Flint situation,” he said backstage, adding: “It always happens in poor neighborhoods, which are generally black or hispanic or people of color. … Had there been a spotlight put on that, I would argue that maybe they would have been a little ahead of the situation.” He went on to lament about the state of journalism today, acknowledging that he considered the profession at one point. “[The real Spotlight team] was great. Those guys were dogged, and that kind of journalism is disappearing. I’m talking about real journalism. I’m not talking about the sensational stuff that’s put out on the internet. I’m talking about the people that really do the hard work. I would really encourage everyone under 50 or 40 — because I don’t see it with my generations — but I see young people rising to the occasion here.”

  • Viola Davis

    Best actress in a drama series for 'How To Get Away With Murder'

    FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

    “We have become a society of trending topics. Diversity is not a trending topic. It’s just not,” said Davis backstage when asked to weigh in on the lack of diversity in the Academy Award nominees. “I’ve never put any limitations on myself. I see myself as an actor. … No matter what is going on in the business, I will find a way to practice my art. And all of the actors of color that I know don’t place any limitations on themselves either. So regardless of way is going on with the Academy — regardless of what is going on in Hollywood — they will find a way to be excellent. We always have and we always will.” She went on to say that she thinks being open to everyone’s stories is more important than boycotting the Oscars. “I think people should do want to do with the Oscars. If they want to watch, that’s fine. If they don’t, that’s fine, too. I think sometimes people feel like stories about people of color are not inclusive. They are very much inclusive. The stories of August Wilson, which pretty much made my career, is everyone’s story. So I’m just saying, plop your money down to see Dope, to see Straight Outta Compton, to support directors like Ava DuVernay, Lee Daniels, Spike Lee. Their stories are just valid and important as anyone else’s. [What’s] important than boycotting is openness.”

  • Kevin Spacey

    Best actor in a drama series for 'House of Cards'

    Rich Polk/Getty Images for Turner

    “I get to come to work every day and discover. I love the process and I hope I’m getting better at it,” said the House of Cards star of his job, insisting that he’s “still a student and still learning.” When asked about the recent news that showrunner Beau Willimon will be departing the Netflix drama in its fifth season, Spacey struggled with his response. “It’s a great question. I have no f—king idea how to answer you,” he told the reporter in the pressroom. “I mean, literally. We haven’t made any decisions about who might come in. There’s are a tremendous amount of discussions and work to be had. And as I said tonight — and I meant it — I wish Beau all the best. He’s worked tirelessly for four seasons. Whatever he is going to go on to, he’s going to continue to show extraordinary range as a writer and understanding of the human condition. I hope that he and I will work together again some day. But it’s incredibly early for me to be even vaguely talking about what I think will happen or what we’ll try to make happen, but we will without question do our best to honor the road that Beau paved.”

  • Alicia Vikander

    Best actress in a supporting role for 'The Danish Girl'

    Mike Windle/Getty Images for Turner

    “I grew up and looked up to American cinema. That was fairytale land. It was beyond anything that I could ever dream of,” said Vikander, revealing that she used to watch the SAG Awards the day after they aired on YouTube when she was younger. “I was always just so amazed by this awards show with actors celebrating other actors.” She credits her success with her friends and family who have given her support along the way. “I had people who told me that anything would be possible and that means a lot, even though I would have never believed this.”

  • Jeffrey Tambor

    Best actor in a comedy series for 'Transparent'

    Getty Images

    “Tonight in my speech, I wanted to reach out to people who are not Maura Pfefferman’s and who don’t shop at the mall — the people who are really scrapping by to get their freedom and their medicine and their surgeries,” said Tambor backstage, acknowledging that he was shaking when he gave his acceptance speech on the Shrine Auditorium stage. “It’s not a red carpet thing; it’s a people thing.” The Transparent star went on to applaud new platforms, including his show’s home Amazon, for how they’ve transformed the television landscape. “People who are not paying attention to streaming are missing a big thing because entertainment is being reformed. The story arc and the way that characterization is being done, the whole thing is changing,” he said, adding: “It’s a brave new world. Welcome to it.”

  • Laverne Cox and Selenis Leyva

    Best ensemble in a comedy series for 'Orange Is the New Black'

    Getty Images

    “This show happened on Netflix and four years ago, streaming shows weren’t a thing. Jenji has said that this show probably couldn’t have happened on a network four years ago. But now, maybe it can because streaming channels like Netflix and others have paved the way,” said Cox, adding: “It’s really about changing and revolutionizing television. And that’s what Netflix has done and I think that’s what our show has done.” For her part, Leyva spoke about the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, contending that the issue doesn’t start with the Academy Awards. “The problem starts in the writing rooms, in the studios. The producers, the directors and casting people need to open up their eyes that this is a different world that we’re living and diversity is not just black and white. Diversity is universal and it’s a lot more than we are focusing on — it’s religions, it’s sexuality,” she said. “It doesn’t start with the Academy Awards. The solution starts before that.”

  • Queen Latifah

    Best actress in a television movie or miniseries for 'Bessie'

    Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

    When asked about when films will start looking as diverse as television does, Latifah said that it depends heavily on want viewers want. “Some of it is already happening, but I think the public has to continue to demand that. We are in a capitalist society so hopefully supply and demand will kick back in. I don’t know what happened to that, but it used to make pretty darn good sense,” she said, adding: “People want it. Give it to the people. It’s OK to evolve and change and grow. Change is inevitable, so let’s go.” The Bessie star also had some words for the next President of the United States: “Please continue to have some damn sense. Do what’s right for the damn people and climate change is a real thing. I hope our next president takes time to use his or her wisdom to before speaking and acting to make the right decisions for all of us as Americans as well as for the world.”