SAG Awards 2022: Helen Mirren, Life Achievement Award

SAG Awards

Kate Winslet and Cate Blanchett presented the veteran performer with the Life Achievement Award.

At the 2022 Screen Actors Guild Awards, Helen Mirren accepted the Life Achievement Award from Kate Winslet and Cate Blanchett. 

“She loves collaboration, she loves to act, she loves to play,” said Winslet of Mirren, introducing her via Zoom to the SAG Awards stage. “Her performances give us real human beings, unvarnished, untethered. She’s a privilege to watch.”

Blanchett took over to introduce Mirren onstage, adding of her impact: “As with any great artist, words will never suffice,” before cutting to a montage of Mirren’s work.

“Lifetime achievement sounds so grand, but I suppose I’m still alive, so by that measure I’m eligible,” joked Mirren, beginning her acceptance speech. “Thank you S-A-G so much for this. I hate to say the word ‘SAG’ at my age.”

She gave an emotional, rousing tribute to the global community of actors past and present. “I’ve been angsting about what to say tonight, and I’ve been waiting for inspiration. And then it came. To all those people with whom I have shared my professional life: the actors. I will talk about actors, oh my God, what a brilliant idea. So original. I like to think inside the box,” she said, addressing the crowd of her peers.

“It is you, you: actors, that I want to thank,” she said. “For your wit, and your humor, all the giggles, all the laughter — I’ve laughed my whole life, honestly. Your perception, your generosity, your intelligence and your incredible energy. And your helpless dedication to our chosen profession…Together we laugh, we weep, we worry, we change clothes, we throw up and we suffer diarrhea.”

Mirren is an Oscar winner for 2006’s The Queen, for which she earned the SAG Award. Additionally, she has four more SAG Awards wins — for female actor in a miniseries for Phil Spector and Elizabeth I and for supporting female actor and ensemble in Gosford Park.

Additionally, she has eight other SAG nominations, as well as Oscar nominations for The Madness of King George, Gosford Park and The Last Station. 

Backstage after accepting her award, Mirren, who is the most SAG-decorated Lifetime winner in history, told press: “That’s pretty amazing. A lot of luck along the way, but as Kate said, I just believe in getting on with it and not making too much of a fuss.” She added: “I’ve always been a great admirer of American film acting. From when I was in theater I always wondered: ‘How on earth did they do it?’ Now I feel the same way about so many of the young British actresses I mentioned in my speech.”

The Lifetime Achievement honor is presented to an individual who exemplifies the finest ideals of the acting profession.

Previous winners include Robert De Niro, Alan Alda, Carol Burnett, Lily Tomlin, Debbie Reynolds, Rita Moreno, Dick Van Dyke, Whoopi Goldberg and Denzel Washington. 

“Dame Helen Mirren is quite simply a brilliant and luminous talent. Her work runs the gamut of characters from a not-so-retired CIA super-killer and a ruthless Russian spy handler to a Hungarian cleaning lady and the most exquisite Elizabeth II,” said Fran Drescher, SAG-AFTRA president, in a statement. “She has set the bar very high for all actors and, in role after role, she exceeds even her own extraordinary performances.”