As is tradition, the 27th annual SAG Awards began on Sunday night with a number of actors introducing themselves and their professions, along with their favorite titles that got them through the past year.
Helen Mirren, Sterling K. Brown, Dan Levy, Henry Golding, Riz Ahmed, Cynthia Erivo and Mindy Kaling were among the actors, many of whom shared their favorite television shows: The Great, The Queen’s Gambit, The Flight Attendant.
“I think I have watched everything that was available to me,” said Levy, of his television habits. “We pretty much rammed our way through The Mandalorian,” said Golding.
“I love white people behaving badly,” added Brown, speaking of Succession.
Of his chosen career, Josh Gad said, “The one thing I did of the infinite possibilities.. that’s what you should avoid.”
The opening moments of the show also included a cold open by the Ted Lasso cast in a locker room, preparing for the award ceremony and joking about the shows they were competing with. While Jason Sudeikis won for his performance in the comedy series, the ensemble lost out to Schitt’s Creek.
With the “I am an Actor” segments dispersed throughout the show, Levy later talked about his time in the pandemic. “A lot of people had to move home with their parents, including myself. Now that’s a show, or a movie.” He also talked about trying his hand at cooking. “I tried Bolognese, sushi,” he recalled. “None of it worked in my favor.“I did learn that I have absolutely nothing to offer in the culinary arts.”
“I have got into nature, big time,” said Mirren. “I did have a bit of a meeting with a bear.” Luckily, she was able to chase him away.
Many of the actors later talked about the “special skills” section of their resume, noting that earlier in their careers they would add skills that they weren’t necessarily proficient in.
“Special skills man. If I dig that up somewhere, I’m sure I’m going to be embarrassed…” began Ahmed, adding that judo was once listed on his resume because he had attended a few classes.
“On my resume I put down that I can horse ride, I can sword fight…” recalled Erivo.
“I absolutely cannot ride a horse,” laughed Mirren.
Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen appeared in a clip with Steenburgen playing the accordion in various situations. “It’s been great for my songwriting,” she said of all the time spent at home. She sang about toast in the kitchen, and played while Danson slept on the couch. “I am an actor,” said Danson. “I am an actor and an accordionist,” said Steenburgen.
Some of the actors remembered their early headshots when starting out in their careers. “Thought it would be really artistic to showcase a bench instead of my face,” said Gad. “Oh, you should not be wearing those boots with that short shirt…” Mirren said, looking at an early photo of herself. “Do you want to be depressed?” Jimmy Fallon said of the “comedy stylings” of his old headshot.
The actors also talked about working remotely, specifically having to constantly use Zoom. “Everybody’s fighting for wifi, I’ve got my daughter doing her drama class…” said Ethan Hawke, of his chaotic home set-up. Lily Collins recalled her time working on Mank with David Fincher, where he would sometimes simply freeze on the screen.
Looking ahead, Mirren shared her excitement for a time when we can return to movie theaters. “My hopes for the coming year are that we find ourselves in a big darkened [room] with a tub of popcorn…” she said, while Kaling expressed her desire to see her fellow actors “sparkly” faces again, when masks are no longer needed.
The “I Am an Actor” opening segment dates back to 1995, when Angela Lansbury gave a glimpse into her life as a performer: “I’ve been Elizabeth Taylor’s sister, Spencer Tracy’s mistress, Elvis’ mother and a singing teapot,” she said.
The ceremony was dedicated, by actors themselves, to the art and craft of acting, and prompted future telecasts to include anecdotes from distinguished veterans in the field.
Hundreds of actors have participated, from Robert Duvall, Michael Keaton and Eugene Levy to Halle Berry, Millie Bobby Brown, Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate .
The pre-recorded 2021 SAG Awards, which took place without a host, was simulcast on TNT and TBS at 6 p.m. PT.