By Lynette Rice
January 27, 2019 at 09:33 PM EST
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Alan Alda accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award at the SAG Awards on Sunday by reflecting on how privileged actors are to depict “another person’s vision of the world” at a time when the culture is divided “so sharply.”

Beckoned to the stage by Tom Hanks while the theme to M*A*S*H* was played, Alda, 82, opened his acceptance speech by saying how “extraordinary” it felt to look out at his fellow colleagues, who welcomed him with a prolonged standing ovation. Then he struck a serious tone.

“The thing is, this comes at a time when I’ve had a chance to look back on my life and I see more than ever now how proud I am to be a member of our brotherhood and sisterhood of actors,” Alda said. “When we get a chance to act, it’s our job, at least in part, to get inside a character’s head and to search for a way to see life from that person’s point of view, another person’s vision of the world. And then to let an audience experience that. It may never be more urgent to see the world through another person’s eyes. And when the culture is divided so sharply, actors can help, at least a little, by doing what we do. And the nice part is it’s fun to do it. My wish for all of us is let’s stay playful, let’s have fun, let’s keep searching. It can’t solve everything, but it wouldn’t hurt.”

Alda was introduced by Hanks, who reminded folks that the honoree’s birth name was actually Alphonso Joseph D’Abruzzo. (He then had a little fun imagining how Alphonso would have done just fine alongside Harry Morgan on M*A*S*H*). Hanks said Alda was the rare talent who won Emmys for acting, writing, and directing. “He has shown us all who we are and what we all can be,” Hanks said.

Alda’s longtime M*A*S*H* costar Mike Farrell was in the audience to help celebrate Alda’s work.

Before the SAG Awards, Alda told EW that while it was a “wonderful surprise” to learn that he would receive the special honor, he said it feels like it’s still a little early to celebrate his 60-plus year career.

“I’m still a kid!” he insists. “They don’t know that.”

What’s next for Alda? He’s expected to reprise his role as Solomon Waltzer, a legendary and very confident defense attorney in the third season of The Good Fight on CBS All Access. “The character is trying to take over their business by stealing their clients,” explains Alda of his role that was introduced in the second season. “They asked me to come back to shoot something in February, but I haven’t seen a script yet.”

See the full list of SAG Award winners, updating live.

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