Meryl Streep chatted with Venus Williams. Lady Gaga reunited with Bradley Cooper, her ‘A Star is Born’ co-star. Andrew Garfield and Jamie Dornan have rolled out for Cousin Greg (also known as Nicholas Braun) of “Succession”. And Will Smith, always so warm, mingled with almost everyone.
Yes, it was like the good old days in Hollywood at the Santa Monica Barker Hangar on Sunday night. The 28th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards hosted the first in-person awards show of 2022, moving forward as if things were normal after other gatherings were canceled or went entirely virtual due to the omicron variant . (Last year’s SAG ceremony was pre-recorded, held on Zoom.)
In typical years, the SAG Awards tend to be seen as a preview of the Oscars, given that the actors who vote for them make up the Academy’s largest branch. But this year’s event – where Apple took home top awards for “CODA” for Best Film Ensemble and “Ted Lasso” for Best TV Comedy Ensemble (which the cast accepted virtually from London because they had to work) – had more to prove than in previous shows. It felt like a high school homecoming game, a chance to see old friends in person after a long absence.
With strict COVID-19 protocols, the SAGs offered hope that Hollywood might be able to return to life as it once was. In other COVID-19 outbreaks, award shows — such as the Oscars and Emmys — have tried to bring people together in more limited ways. But the SAGs were basically business as usual, with movie and TV stars parading through a crowded room together. The ceremony benefited from widespread booster doses and the recent drop in COVID cases in California.
This is what it was like to be inside.
1. Have you passed the test (COVID-19)?
Before the glamor of an awards show, participants had to jump through a few hoops. First, everyone who attended the SAG Awards had to show proof that they were vaccinated and received the booster. Then you had to take a COVID-19 PCR test within 48 hours of the Sunday ceremony. Finally, on the way inside the lounge, everyone had to allow for a rapid antigen test and temperature check – which was carried out by a suitable healthcare professional as guests waited in a long line of black cars.
Following all these security protocols, the scene outside the SAGs looked like something out of “Contagion”. But the good news: On-site testing was done relatively quickly, so there was only about a 20-30 minute wait in your car before you were given permission to drive. park at the entrance to the show.
2. Please give me some space!
Once inside, guests — especially the named actors — moved around, ate and drank without wearing face masks. The red carpet was less cramped than usual, perhaps because fewer outlets had access to it. And the tables inside the room have been spread out to give people more space.
3. Sandra Oh celebrates with the “Squid Game” winners.
One of the big winners of the night was Netflix’s global phenomenon “Squid Game”. The South Korean TV series won two major awards: Lee Jung-Jae won Best Male Actor in a Drama Series against the guys from “Succession” (beating Jeremy Strong, Brian Cox and Kieran Culkin). And Jung Ho-Yeon was named Best Female Lead in a Drama Series, in a category that included Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon of “The Morning Show.” As the “Squid Game” cast celebrated the two wins, Sandra Oh – nominated for “The Chair” – joined them at the commercial break for a group hug.
4. Spider-Man likes “succession”.
Between awards shows, SAGs always offer a chance to see A-list celebrities in their natural habitat. Even during a pandemic, this turned out to be the case. Meryl Streep snuggled up with Tyler Perry and Helen Mirren, who received the Lifetime Achievement SAG Award. Selena Gomez rested her head on the shoulder of neighbor Martin Short, her co-star of Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building.” Garfield turned out to be a big fan of “Succession”, praising Jeremy Strong for winning Best Ensemble in a Drama for the HBO series. Jared Leto worked in every corner of the room, meeting at one point with Javier Bardem and Daveed Diggs. And Cate Blanchett kissed Julianna Margulies during a first commercial break.
5. Michael Keaton’s surprise workout.
When Salma Hayek announced Keaton as the winner for his performance in “Dopestick” (in the category of Best Male Actor in a TV Movie or Limited Series), he was nowhere to be found. Turns out Keaton was using the portable toilet at the back of the room, a long way from the stage. As he came out of the bathroom, someone said to him, “They just read your name!” And so Keaton raced to get his prize – barely reaching the stage in time.
Marc Malkin contributed to this story.