Helen Mirren received the life achievement award at the 2022 SAG Awards in Santa Monica, CA, on Sunday night! Kate Winslet and Cate Blanchett presented Mirren with the special honor following a career retrospective of the 76-year-old actor’s nearly six-decade career. “Lifetime achievement sounds so grand, but I suppose I’m still alive, so by that measure I’m eligible,” Mirren began her acceptance speech. “But honestly, any achievement that I’ve succeeded in is the result of my mantra . . . ‘Be on time and don’t be an ass.'”
The living legend admitted that she struggled knowing what to say during her speech. “I’ve been angsting about what to say tonight, and I waited for inspiration. And then it came,” she said. “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.” Mirren went on to thank some of her biggest inspirations, including Eleonora Duse and Anna Magnani, for their “helpless dedication to our chosen profession.”
She concluded: “A few years ago, I had the fiercesome and wonderful challenge of performing ‘Phèdre’ . . . and standing in that 2,000-year-old space, I felt the ghosts of all those ancient Greeks and vagabonds. I felt their fear, I felt their sweat, their elation, and I felt at one with them. Actors, I’m sorry, you’re a magnificent tribe . . . This is for the actors, thank you!”
As one of the few actors to achieve the Triple Crown of Acting, a term for performers who have won a competitive Academy Award, Emmy Award, and Tony Award, Mirren is now the most decorated SAG life achievement award winner with five SAG wins and 13 nominations. Previous SAG life achievement winners include Betty White, Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro, Rita Moreno, Ruby Dee, and Julie Andrews.
“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,” SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher said in a statement before the show. “She has set the bar very high for all actors and, in role after role, she exceeds even her own extraordinary performances. I’ve always felt a kinship with Helen. She’s the Queen of England and I’m the Queen of Queens. She won an Oscar and I’m left-hander of the year. It’s uncanny. And, it is my deep, personal honor to be the first to congratulate Helen as the 57th recipient of the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award. Bravo, my dear!”
Watch Mirren’s moving acceptance speech at the SAG Awards ahead.