Alan Alda hailed the important role actors can play “when culture is divided” at the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday (01.27.19).
The 82-year-old actor received a standing ovation as he took to the stage at Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium to accept a Lifetime Achievement award from Tom Hanks and spoke of how “proud” he is to be a part of his profession and explained how he felt he and his peers have a responsibility to introduce audiences to different perspectives.
He said: “It’s really hard to describe to you what it feels like to look out and see my fellow actors, my colleagues, my heroes. To welcome me up here like this is an extraordinary feeling.
“This comes at a time when I had a chance to look back at my life and to think about what it’s meant to be an actor and I see more than ever now how proud I am to be a member of our brotherhood and sisterhood of actors.
“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 a 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 have been more urgent than to see the world through another person’s eyes than when a culture is divided so sharply. Actors can help, at least a little bit, just by doing what we do. And the nice part is it’s fun to do it.”
And the ‘M*A*S*H’ actor urged actors to “stay playful” and keep having “fun” with their work.
He added: “So my wish for all of us is — let’s stay playful, let’s have fun and let’s keep searching. It can’t solve everything, but it wouldn’t hurt.”
He concluded his speech by thanking SAG-AFTRA and urged every actor to honour the union contract.
He added: “I honour our beloved [agent] Toni Howard. I share this with everybody in the room.”
Before getting on stage, Alan’s ‘Bridge of Spies’ co-star Tom praised his friend – whose real name is Alphonso D’Abruzzo – for his career choices.
He said: “A career is measured by different yard sticks. Quality being the first. There’s longevity, as well, but most important, I think perhaps, is how an actor’s choices reflect the time or the tenor of our troubled world and of our human natures.
“The actor we honour tonight for his life achievements is worthy then not just for his decades of work and praiseworthy credits, but for how he’s shown us all who we are and what we all can be.”
He went on to praise the ‘Aviator’ actor’s various accomplishments, including on stage, screen and on TV, noting he was the first to win Emmy Awards for acting, writing and directing.
He added: “There are his passions for philosophy and for his philanthropy. There is a woman named Arlene, three kids, two memoirs, a cackle of a laugh and a quest in both his life and his work that is guided by ethos.
“You cannot be too one-sided or only half experienced. Alphonso D’Abruzzo, tonight, for decades, for a lifetime, we have been lucky to have watched the former Mr. D’Abruzzo ply his craft and tonight, we celebrate our good fortune and a life’s labor of Alan Alda.”