Gary Oldman has won his first-ever SAG Award.
The Darkest Hour star won best actor at this year’s Screen Actors Guild for his role as Winston Churchill.
“Thank you for this tremendous honor,” said Oldman in his acceptance speech. “I’m honestly and truly thrilled and overjoyed to be in this room tonight, not only with my amazing fellow nominees, but my friends and peers. There are giants of acting in this room tonight. Two of them share my table, Geoffrey Rush and Richard Jenkins. Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, and, of course, the extraordinary, my old sparring partner Denzel Washington. They are telling me to wrap up, and that very sad music seems to follow me everywhere, so I will just say that Winston Churchill reminds us that we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we have given.”
Oldman previously won best actor in a drama at the Golden Globes for Darkest Hour, and his SAG win solidifies him as this year’s clear Oscar frontrunner: Over the last 10 years, the SAG best actor winner has gone on to win the Oscar nine out of 10 times.
Speaking to reporters backstage after his win, Oldman said he did extensive reading in preparation for the role, with the help of Churchill scholars. “But at some point the intellectual side of it has to stop,” he said. “You have to take all that and metabolize it and make it into a living, breathing person. The big help to me was the footage of him at this time. The revelation to me was just the energy and the dynamism of him. I started with this, outside in, and I tried to get the physicality and the walk and then that gives you clues.”
He also spoke about keeping his win in perspective, and he reflected on his 35-year acting career. “I have been truly very lucky and very blessed,” Oldman said. “It’s had its ups and downs. It’s been quite a remarkable journey. Some young actors, not all of them, but we’re in a time where a generation wants to get everything instantly, and they want to take four weeks of acting school, and they think they’ve got it, and there’s no substitute for the work. You got to really earn your dues, put the work in. … You have your moment in the sun. There’s no guarantee you’re going to keep working. God forbid, I could get sick. I could get hit by a car. We have to die, but there’s no guarantee that we’re going to get tomorrow. So my feeling is: Enjoy the moment in the sun, and it will eclipse, it always does, and it will be someone else standing up here next year. I’m enjoying it.”
Oldman beat out fellow nominees Denzel Washington for Roman J. Israel, Esq., Timothée Chalamet for Call Me By Your Name, Daniel Kaluuya for Get Out, and James Franco for The Disaster Artist.
With reporting by Maureen Lee Lenker.