The 2016 SAG Speeches
The 22nd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards honored the year’s best acting performances, and those winners honored everyone with their acceptance speeches. Some of the stars used their speeches to champion diversity, others gave words of encouragement to aspiring actors, and many thanked their loved ones and costars. Keep clicking to see how EW ranked what the stars said.
1. Carol Burnett
Introduced by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, Carol Burnett was honored with the ceremony’s Life Achievement Award. The famed performer explained her early love for Hollywood, telling stories of the “covered-wagon” days she spent saving pennies with her grandmother to attend the movies three or four times a week, and the subsequent hours she dedicated to acting the films out with her best friend. “When I got my variety show, one of the major things I wanted to do and I loved doing was our takeoffs on all the movies that I grew up loving,” adding that this time around she had costumes, an orchestra, and guest stars to help her along. “At first the network didn’t want me to do [a variety show]. They tried to talk me into doing a half-hour sitcom… They said… ‘All the comedy variety shows are hosted by men… It’s really not for a gal. Comedy variety is a man’s game.’ No.” After thanking those who contributed to the show both in front of the cameras and off, Burnett said with her signature ear tug, “I’m so glad we had this time together. Thank you.”
2. Viola Davis
Viola Davis, accepting her SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series for How to Get Away with Murder, told the audience she isn’t concerned with playing the hero. “People always saying, ‘Wow, you know, Annalise is an antihero, and don’t you worry she she’s not likable? And don’t you worry that she’s not a mentor?’ And I always think, ‘Why do I have to be a hero? Why do you have to like me? And why do I have to be a mentor?’” she said. “My job, as an actor, is just to create a human being to the best of my ability; flawed, messy, maybe not always likable, maybe not cute. It is my job, and I do it to the best of my ability, and I get so much joy out of being an actor.”
3. The Cast of Spotlight
The stars of Spotlight accepted the award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. Mark Ruffalo started things off, thanking those behind the award-winning film for taking the time to tell the truth and honoring the victims of the child sex abuse scandal within the Catholic church. “This movie allows them to be seen in a world that has been blind to them,” he said. “It is such an honor to be standing in front of you on behalf of them.” Ruffalo then passed the microphone to Michael Keaton, who added, “This is not only for the survivors of this horrific situation, but for me personally — and I’m only speaking for me — this is really for the disenfranchised everywhere. This is for every Flint, Michigan in the world.This is for the powerless.”
4. Brie Larson
Brie Larson accepted the award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role for Room. “This is so incredible,” she said. “I feel like I was born questioning everything about reality, feeling lost and alone and always worried that I was deeply unlovable. Watching your movies, all of my SAG members, you made me feel like I was less alone and that was a safe place to explore my creativity, so thank you.” Larson also thanked her young costar, Jacob Tremblay, whom she called her “inspiration.” “Everything that is this movie is because of you,” she told him.
5. Uzo Aduba
Uzo Aduba took the stage to accept the award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series for her work in Orange is the New Black. Getting emotional as she spoke, the second-time winner told the members of SAG-AFTRA that the honor was really, really truly touching.” She then turned to her OITNB costars, telling the Netflix actors, “I not only love you but I respect you for your craft.” After thanking her team and those around her, she added, “I would like to just take an opportunity to acknowledge the actors who are at home, not here in this room with us but hoping to one day be in this room with us, to continue to keep trying. To keep plugging, to keep working… No matter if anyone tells you to get out of that line you are waiting in, stay in line — you have this.”
6. Jeffrey Tambor
Jeffrey Tambor took home the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series for his portrayal of Maura Pfefferman on Transparent, and dedicated the award to the transgender community. “I want to thank [series creator] Jill Soloway for changing my life. Thank you, Jill, for the responsibility of Maura Pfefferman. … I play Maura Pfefferman. She’s very entitled, and she has a lot of money. And I would just like to dedicate this award to the non-Maura Pfeffermans who don’t have a lot of cash for their operations, for their medicine, for their freedom. Thank you very much.”
7. The Cast of Downton Abbey
Taking home their third win in the Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series category, the stars of Downton Abbey marveled at the kindness they’ve both shown by American actors, adding, “We’re a British show, what the heck are we doing here?” Star Lesley Nicol, who plays Mrs. Patmore, spoke on the importance of collaboration and thanked the show’s performers, highlighting two particular contributors: the “big, burly” crew members named Dunan and Bobby, who were found in the corner “sobbing” as the stars shot their final scene.
8. Alicia Vikander
An emotional Alicia Vikander accepted the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role for The Danish Girl. Vikander told the crowd her mother was an actress and recalled going to watch her rehearse growing up. “I loved to watch her perform; but already when I was a young girl, I was always, I think, the most captivated by what I saw. I saw a sudden thrill. I saw an excitement of a collaboration and exchange of camaraderie between actors by fellow actors; and I learned then, and I know still, that acting is not in a bubble. That magic only happens between acting companions.” She also thanked costar Eddie Redmayne, the rest of the film’s cast and crew, and the transgender community. “I couldn’t have done this role without you guys,” she said.
9. The Cast of Orange Is the New Black
The stars of Orange is the New Black accepted the award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series and used the moment to speak on an important issue. Nodding to the cast, star Laura Prepon said, “Look at this stage. This is what we talk about when we talk about diversity. Different race, color, creed, sexual orientation.”
10. Leonardo DiCaprio
Leonardo DiCaprio continued his recent run of wins at the 2016 SAGs, taking home the honor of Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role for his work in The Revenant. “I’m truly humbled by this,” he told his fellow actors. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart.” He went on to speak about his experience on the film This Boy’s Life and his time spent after watching the greatest films of the decades prior. “I was in awe of [the] performances and I was incredibly inspired,” he said. “So, for any young actors out there, I encourage you to watch the history of cinema. As the history of cinema unfolds, you realize that we all stand on the shoulders of giants.”
11. Queen Latifah
“I’m in shock right now. Thank you so much,” Queen Latifah said as she accepted the award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries for Bessie, adding, “Thank you, Mom and Dad, for believing in me and telling me I could achieve anything if I just believed in myself. And I hope that anyone out there who does not come in the package that people say you should, keep fighting for it. Flip those rocks over. Keep pushing. Keep turning. You can do it. You build your own boxes, not people. So knock that thing away and do you. Thank you.”
12. Idris Elba
Idris Elba got to make two speeches, first for winning Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role for Beasts of No Nation and then for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries for Luther. “I want to tell you man, we made a film about real people and real lives,” Elba said in his first acceptance speech. “To be awarded for it is very special, because a lot of people were damaged through that. So thank you for giving this film some respect and love.” When he returned to claim his award for Luther, he called the two wins “incredible” and thanked his family. “I want to shout out to my beautiful children … when dad goes away, I think about you all the time. I love you so much. And mum, I love you more.”
13. Kevin Spacey
“I would first like to thank our creator,” House of Cards star Kevin Spacey said, before adding with a point to the sky, “Not that one, the one grounded here on earth: Beau Willimon.” He paid tribute to the departing showrunner, and went on to mention the theory of relativity of all things. “Apparently, they say that if you’re in an elevator, you don’t know whether you’re going up or going down,” the Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series winner said. “Right now it feels like I’m going up.”