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SAG awards: Dame Helen Mirren attributes success to mantra of ‘don’t be an ass’

SAG awards: Dame Helen Mirren attributes success to mantra of ‘don’t be an ass’ (Chris Pizzello/AP)
SAG awards: Dame Helen Mirren attributes success to mantra of ‘don’t be an ass’ (Chris Pizzello/AP)

Dame Helen Mirren attributed her career success to her mantra of “be on time and don’t be an ass” as she accepted the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) lifetime achievement award.

In a humorous speech the Oscar-winning actress said she liked to “think inside the box” as she dedicated the accolade to her fellow actors.

The 28th annual ceremony, which returned in person after being held as a shortened virtual ceremony in 2021, took place overnight on Sunday in Santa Monica, Los Angeles.

British talent largely lost out to US counterparts despite being nominated across a wide range of categories.

Dame Helen took to the stage to receive the prestigious accolade after an introduction from Kate Winslet and Cate Blanchett, who described her as “acting royalty”.

“Lifetime achievement, that sounds so grand. I suppose I’m alive so by that measure I’m eligible,” she joked.

“But honestly any achievement that I’ve succeeded in is a result of my mantra which is basically ‘be on time and don’t be an ass’.

“Thank you SAG, I hate to say the word sag at my age, it’s always S A G for me.

28th Annual SAG Awards – Press Room
With 13 SAG Awards nominations and five wins, Dame Helen is the most decorated SAG lifetime achievement recipient (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

“I’m simultaneously enormously proud but I’m riven with the understanding that I absolutely do not deserve this.”

With 13 SAG Awards nominations and five wins, Dame Helen is the most decorated SAG lifetime achievement recipient.

Dame Helen thanked her fellow “rogues and vagabonds” for “all the giggles…their emotional generosity and incredible energy.”

“I get really peed off when I read about actors being maligned as a group, it’s so easy isn’t it,” she said.

“In my experience, which is now considerable…we love and admire each other’s work.

“Together we laugh, we weep, we worry, we change clothes, we throw up and suffer diarrhoea… don’t you? I mean I do.

“Actors, you’re a magnificent tribe, stretching across culture, history, and time. This is for the actors.”

Elsewhere Apple TV’s film CODA triumphed, winning outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture.

The film stars English actress Emilia Jones and tells the story of Ruby, the child of deaf adults (CODA).

The film features an ensemble cast of deaf actors, including Troy Kotsur, Marlee Matlin and Daniel Durant.

In an acceptance speech given in American Sign Language (ASL) Matlin said: “We deaf actors have come a long way.

“This validates the fact that deaf actors can work just like anyone else. We look forward to more opportunities for deaf actors.”

Kotsur won the first prize of the evening for male actor in a supporting role and in his own speech, also given in ASL, he thanked Apple TV+ for their “authentic” casting of the film.

Will Smith won best male actor in a leading role prize for playing the father of tennis aces Venus and Serena Williams, marking his first SAG win after three nominations.

28th Annual SAG Awards – Show
Will Smith won best male actor in a leading role for playing the father of tennis aces Venus and Serena Williams (Chris Pizzello/AP)

Jessica Chastain won best female actor in a leading role for Eyes Of Tammy Faye – a biopic about the US evangelist. Her win meant British heavyweights Olivia Colman and Benedict Cumberbatch were both snubbed.

A brief moment of success for Britons came with a win for ensemble cast in a comedy series for members of Richmond-based football series Ted Lasso.

Appearing virtually alongside her fellow cast members, British star Hannah Waddingham enthusiastically thanked SAG and wished they could be at the ceremony in person.

Jason Sudeikis, who plays the show’s eponymous star, won male actor in a comedy series for the second year in a row for his portrayal of the amateur US football coach, fending off his co star Brett Goldstein.

Squid Game stars Jung Ho-Yeon and Lee Jung-Jae won outstanding performances for female and male actors in a drama series, respectively, for their roles in Netflix’s dark thriller.

Making short acceptance speeches in their native Korean language, both thanked global audiences for their love and support for the show.

Getting visibly emotional, Jung Ho-Yeon said the show had “opened doors for me” and said she had long dreamed of being an actor on the “big screen”.

28th Annual SAG Awards – Show
Star Brian Cox accepted the award for best ensemble in a drama series on behalf of the cast of Succession, wearing a facemask reading ‘f*** off’ – a tribute to his foul-mouthed onscreen persona Logan Roy (Chris Pizzello/AP)

The cast of HBO’s Succession won the ensemble in a drama series prize, following its first SAG nomination.

Star Brian Cox accepted the award on behalf of the cast, wearing a facemask reading “f*** off” – a tribute to his foul-mouthed onscreen persona Logan Roy. He also paid tribute to the people of Ukraine caught up in the ongoing conflict.

Several presenters and winners at the ceremony expressed solidarity with the people of Ukraine during the ongoing conflict, and prayed for “impending peace” in the region.

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