SAG Award winners sound off on Trump with humor, heart

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Julia Louis-Dreyfus accepts the award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a comedy series for “Veep” at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. | Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Seizing a moment to speak out after the tumultuous first week of the Donald Trump presidency, several winners and presenters at the Screen Actors Guild Awards peppered their speeches with commentary about the administration and its policies.

“I am an American patriot and I love this country,” Northwestern grad and “Veep” star  Julia Louis-Dreyfus said while accepting the TV comedy actress prize. “And because I love this country, I am horrified by its blemishes. This immigrant ban is a blemish and it is un-American.”

She noted that her father fled Nazi-occupied France and joked that whether or not the Russians interfered in the voting and led to her victory, she was the legitimate winner.

Another former Chicagoan, William H. Macy had faux-positive words for the president, thanking Trump “for making Frank Gallagher seem completely normal.” Macy won the TV comedy actor award for playing Gallagher, a despicable alcoholic.

For sheer passion, few could match “Stranger Things” actor David Harbour, who spoke on behalf of the winning ensemble for a TV drama. “We will repel bullies. We will shelter freaks and outcasts, we will hunt monsters, and when we are lost, we will punch some people in the face,” he pledged, in a possible reference to when white nationalist Richard Spencer took a fist to the kisser at Trump’s inauguration.

“And we will do it all with soul, with heart and with joy,” Harbour said, as co-star Winona Ryder raised a fist at his side. “We thank you for this responsibility.”

When “Orange Is the New Black” won the award for TV comedy ensemble, lead actress Taylor Schilling did the talking and noted that they represent “generations of families who have sought a better life here from places like Nigeria, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Colombia [and] Ireland. We know that it’s going to be up to us and all of you to keep telling stories that show what unites us is stronger than the forces that seek to divide us.”

While the winners for lead film acting roles, Denzel Washington (“Fences”) and Emma Stone (“La La Land”) kept their remarks apolitical, Taraji P. Henson spoke up for unity as she accepted the film ensemble award on behalf of her co-stars in “Hidden Figures.”

“This story is about what happens when we put our differences aside and we come together as a human race,” she said. “We win, love wins, every time.”

Mahershala Ali, honored for his supporting work in “Moonlight,” noted that his minister mother “didn’t do backflips” when he converted to Islam 16 years ago. But now, he said, “we love each other, and the love is growing. That [religious] stuff is minutiae. It isn’t that important.”

Sarah Paulson, a winner for “The People vs. O.J. Simpson,” made a plea for donations to the American Civil Liberties Union, which is fighting Trump’s restrictions on travel from seven Muslim-majority countries.

While offering no political words of his own, “The Crown” winner John Lithgow made sure to say that “my exact thoughts” were uttered by Meryl Streep in her speech critical of Trump at the Golden Globe Awards earlier this month.

More neutral was Bryan Cranston, honored for playing Lyndon B. Johnson in the HBO movie “All the Way,” who speculated that if Johnson were around for Trump’s ascent, he would have offered encouragement to the new president but also would have shared one of his favorite bits of advice: “Don’t p— in the soup that all of us gotta eat.”

Ashton Kutcher, who offered opening remarks from the stage, was fiercely political in contrast, welcoming his fellow actors and “everyone in airports that belong in my America. You are a part of the fabric of who we are, and we love you and we welcome you.”

The remarks are unlikely to influence Trump, who responded to Streep’s Golden Globes speech not by sympathizing, but by tweeting that Streep is “one of the most overrated actresses in Hollywood.”

Contributing: Associated Press, USA TODAY

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