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A24’s Everything Everywhere All at Once took home best cast, best actress, best supporting actor and best supporting actress Sunday at the 29th Annual SAG Awards.
Lead actress Michelle Yeoh gave co-star James Hong, who recently celebrated his 94th birthday, the opportunity to give a speech on behalf of the ensemble. The actor noted that his first film was made 70 years ago and featured Clark Gable. “Back in those days, [Asian roles] were played by [white] guys with their eyes taped because producers said that Asians were not good enough and they were not ‘box office,'” said Hong. “But look at us now!”
Yeoh noted her long career that led to her first leading role in an American film. “Every one of you know the roller coaster, the ups and downs,” said Yoeh. “This is not just for me, but for all of the little girls like me.… Thank you for giving me a seat at the table, because so many of us need this — we want to be seen, we want to be heard. And tonight, you have shown us that it is possible.”
Quan and Curtis both won for their supporting roles in Everything Everywhere All at Once. A tearful Quan confessed it was an emotional moment as he learned that night that, should he win, he would be the first Asian actor to be a victor in the category. “When I heard this, I quickly realized that this moment no longer belongs to just me. It also belongs to everyone who has asked for change,” said Quan, who called out his fellow Asian acting nominees Hong Chau, Stephanie Hsu and Harry Shum Jr. He also addressed star Yeoh: “I’m so glad that when we both started our careers in 1984, that one day, we [met] on a big screen.”
In her acceptance speech, Curtis spoke about actors as members of her tribe. “My parents were actors, I’m married to an actor — I love actors,” she said, before noting the “nepo baby” discourse fueled by a December New York magazine cover story. “I know that so many people in our industry who are actors don’t get to do this job, and you look at nights like this and think, ‘Is that ever going to be possible for me?’ And I know you look at me and think, ‘Well, nepo baby, that’s why she’s there.’ I totally get it. But the truth of the matter is I’m 64 years old, and this is just amazing.”
The ups and downs of an acting career were a frequent topic in acceptance speeches during the ceremony. While accepting the best actor SAG Award for The Whale, Brendan Fraser recalled first receiving his SAG card in 1991. “If you told that guy back then that I’d be standing right here, I would not have believed you,” said Fraser. “I never would have believed that I would have been offered the role of my life in this character, Charlie. He’s someone who is on a raft of regrets, but he’s in a sea of hope. And I’ve been at that sea, and I’ve rode that wave…and I’ve also had that wave smashed right down to the ocean floor.”
Reflecting on the career resurgence he has experienced after appearing in the Darren Aronofsky film, Fraser added, “I just want you to know for real, all the actors out there who have gone through that — who are going through that — I know how you feel. But believe me, if you just stay in there and you put one foot in front of the other, you’ll get to where you need to go.”
Between Everything Everywhere All at Once and The Whale, it was a big night for A24 — the studio’s films won all of the top five film categories.
Andrew Garfield presented Sally Field with the SAG Award for lifetime achievement. Field recalled when she first received her guild card after making her big break in the title role of Gidget. “I remember, so clearly, putting that little paper card in my wallet, quietly thrilled to call myself an actor,” she said. “I wasn’t looking for applause or attention, even though that’s nice — sometimes, anyway, It has never been about a need to hide myself behind the characters of other people. Acting, to me, has always been about finding those few precious moments when I feel totally, utterly, sometimes dangerously alive.”
HBO’s The White Lotus won best drama ensemble for its Sicily-set second season. F. Murray Abraham accepted the award on behalf of the large cast. “This was the best job I’ve ever had, and not only because of this really remarkable, wonderful family of actors,” said Abraham. “We all lived together in the same place: We all ate together and we all work together, so this is not only for the actors, this is for the entire company.” He also expressed his support for the earthquake victims in Syria and Turkey, as well as wished for peace in Ukraine.
Ozark star Jason Bateman won best actor in a drama series, his third SAG Award for the Netflix series, which wrapped its final season in 2022. Jennifer Coolidge continued her award-winning streak, picking up the prize for best actress in a drama series for her return to HBO’s The White Lotus. Coolidge thanked her friend and collaborator, White Lotus creator-director Mike White. “You can give money to friends and do nice things for them,” said Coolidge. “The best gift you can give someone is to change someone’s perspective for the better, and that’s what Mike White did for me.”
ABC’s Abbott Elementary took home the SAG Award for best comedy ensemble. Accepting the award, Brunson said she approaches the show from three positions: creator, producer and its star. “That wasn’t a humble brag,” she added. “When I get to be a part of this ensemble, these people bring me back down to earth. They make me a better actor.”
Jessica Chastain earned her third SAG Award — and second in a row, after last year’s Oscar-winning role in The Eyes of Tammy Faye — for her portrayal of county singer Tammy Wynette in Showtime’s George & Tammy. The best actor prize went to Sam Elliott for Paramount+’s 1883.
Chastain thanked her fellow actors and recalled attending a class in which Philip Seymour Hoffman said at the end of his talk, “I look forward to working with each of you.” She added: “It was like he brought it into being and a few years later, I…had the opportunity to do a play with him. And I’m telling the story now, because it reminds me of how powerful our mind is, and that we are what our thoughts create. I just want to tell everyone who might be struggling at home, to all the actors that I get to meet: Keep going. You’re one job away. I look forward to working with you. I’ll see you on set.”
Elliott came with a prepared speech, adding he didn’t expect to collect the prize. “What can I say in 45 seconds after just receiving the most meaningful acknowledgment of my 55-year career?” Elliott said to cheers from the audience. “From a group of my peers, many of whom I don’t even know or know only from afar, as a fan who respects their work, I can say thank you and that I’m honored and grateful to be in your company.”
Jeremy Allen White won his first SAG Award for best actor in a comedy series for his role on FX’s The Bear. Jean Smart won her second consecutive SAG Award for HBO Max’s Hacks, but she was unable to attend the event. Smart said last week, on social media, that she recently had a successful heart procedure, and some production on the third season of Hacks has been suspended.
In her absence, co-star Christopher McDonald accepted the award and read a message from Smart. “I’d like to honor all of the guest stars on season two,” Smart wrote. “Whether it was one scene or one line, I think we all know how hard a job that is. You have all made our show richer, funnier, more real.”
Niecy Nash-Betts, Bob Odenkirk, Jamie Lee Curtis, Quinta Brunson and Janelle James all participated in the traditional opening segment in which performers in the audience reveal the reason why they are proud to be an actor. Curtis immediately stole the show with an incredible anecdote from her early career. “I got my SAG card when I was 19 years old, when I signed a seven-year contract at Universal Studios called Operation Petticoat.” She revealed she was soon fired from the series, but that gave her the opportunity to audition “for a little, tiny, no-budget movie called Halloween.”
Before the live stream began, Top Gun: Maverick won the award for best stunt ensemble in a motion picture, while Stranger Things won for TV series.
See the full list of winners and a gallery of the best-dressed stars.
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