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Frank Langella accepted on behalf of the cast, touching on what the film stands for in the political and cultural landscape. “‘God give us leaders,’ said the Reverend Martin Luther King before he was shot down in cold blood on this very date in 1968. A profound injustice. The trial of the Chicago Seven began 18 months later, ruled by a corrupt judge — me.” Langella takes on the role of Judge Julius Hoffman in the film.
He continued, “Aaron Sorkin was determined to tell their story, and his loving and respectful direction transformed a group of disparate actors into an ensemble. Reverend King was right, we need leaders to guide us toward hating each other less. We owe a debt of thanks to the voices of the Chicago Seven, and most especially, Aaron Sorkin, our leader whose voice is the soul of this movie. Thank you SAG-AFTRA.”
Castmembers and recipients of the award also include Sacha Baron Cohen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Keaton, Eddie Redmayne, Jeremy Strong, Yahya Abdul-Mateen, John Carroll Lynch, Mark Rylance and Alex Sharp.
Keaton, by also being part of the winning ensemble in 2014’s Birdman and 2015’s Spotlight, now sets a record by becoming the first person to win three SAG awards for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture.
Written and directed by Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7 tells the story of the Chicago Seven, a group of anti-Vietnam war protesters put on trial over seven months for conspiracy and inciting riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.
In a SAG video interview over Zoom, Lynch answered a question about what the “most powerful” scene was to shoot. “The binding and gagging of Bobby Seale was heart rending and difficult to be around,” he said, “let alone shoot, let alone realize it was a representation of days in which he was bound in the courtroom.”
The legal drama was acquired from Paramount and opened in select theaters last September ahead of its bow on Netflix the following month.
Winning the coveted award, the movie beat out Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, George C. Wolfe’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari and Regina King’s One Night in Miami.
Cohen was nominated for his performance as Abbie Hoffman, but lost out to Daniel Kaluuya from Judas and the Black Messiah.
The Trial of the Chicago 7 is also nominated for best picture at the 93rd Academy Awards, which take place later in April.
Without a host or honorees, the pre-recorded SAG Awards ceremony was simulcast on TNT and TBS at 6 p.m. PT.
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