Of all the festivities that make up Hollywood's annual awards season, the SAG Awards is the one place where actors appear the most comfortable, relaxing with other members of their artistic community and celebrating the fact that they perform for a living.
But navigating the labyrinth backstage at the Shrine Auditorium isn't exactly easy or fun. Built in the Moorish Revival style in 1926, the Shrine possesses an infinite number of nooks and crannies, where a different press or photo opportunity pops up at every turn.
When stars win an award and emerge into the freezing netherworld of backstage, they are immediately whisked past an LG phone display and into the general photo room, where a wall of photographers shout their names and flashes erupt in blinding, rapid-fire succession. They emerge blinking into an autograph station, where they are asked to sign SAG posters and later giant bottles of Taittinger Champagne.
SAG 2013: Winners | Show highlights | Complete list | Red carpet
From there they are ushered into a curtained TBS photo gallery booth and then into a secretive People magazine booth for interviews. After that they head to a general media room, where dozens of reporters pepper them with questions. They still have to enter three more photo booths (including one manned by the L.A. Times) before they're done and free to rejoin their friends in the main auditorium.
By the time Tina Fey, who collected her fifth Screen Actors Guild Award on Sunday for her role as Liz Lemon on NBC's comedy “30 Rock,” made it to The Times' photo booth, she'd had time to really absorb the weight of her win for her series, which concludes with an anticipated finale Thursday.
“This is so heavy!” Fey exclaimed about her statue, holding it up awkwardly.
Told she actually had the option to set the prize down, she slumped over dramatically and sighed. “Thank God.”
FULL COVERAGE: SAG Awards 2013
Fey wasn't the only winner to remark on how very heavy the trophy is to hold. Actor Bryan Cranston, who was among the ensemble of winners for the film “Argo” and won for his lead performance in the AMC television drama, “Breaking Bad,” said in The Times' photo booth, “Wait ‘till you feel how heavy these are! It's unreal. Right now my muscles are cramping. I'm in full cramp! I need Midol.”
Jennifer Lawrence was in high spirits by the time she reached The Times' photo booth. Lawrence nabbed a prize for her turn in “Silver Linings Playbook,” in which she plays a mentally unstable young widow who falls in love with a manic depressive man (Bradley Cooper). The 22-year-old had been suffering from pneumonia, but she said in the photo booth, “I feel better now!,” raising her trophy and beaming.
Backstage, she confessed to reporters that medical science had played a role in her recovery too. “I was on a lot of medication, and I got a really cool inhaler.”
Lawrence was among the handful of winners who made it to the press room to speak to reporters; the sizable cast of ABC's “Modern Family,” which took home top honors for a television comedy ensemble, were some of the first actors to talk to the press.
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Star Jesse Tyler Ferguson used the opportunity to elaborate on the point he made during an acceptance speech, expressing his gratitude for Fey's wacky brainchild and another nominated NBC comedy set to complete its time on air, “The Office.”
“If we can be at that level of perfection and hilarity and genius, we really will have succeeded,” he told reporters in the press room backstage. “Just to be mentioned in that group is an honor — to be in that same room as those actors and nominated with both of those casts is such an honor.”
Describing what the rest of the night would look like for the cast, the show's Eric Stonestreet explained, “We don't get together as much as people think we do — tonight is just about hanging out with each other and celebrating with each other. Winning this award oddly feels more special than winning an Emmy because we know actors are voting for this. To be here and to win it three years in a row is cause for celebration.”
By the time the cast of “Downton Abbey” arrived, clutching their statuettes for outstanding ensemble in a dramatic television series, there were plenty of noisy distractions, with other performers posing for photographs and patting one another on the back.
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Journalists asked the cast of the period-piece favorite the obligatory questions about their red carpet regimen, but also why the actors believe the decidedly British series has developed such a fervent fan base in the United States.