“Sorry! Quick trip to the men’s room. It is packed, by the way,” he said after rushing to the podium. The moment resembled that of Christine Lahti who, after winning during the 1998 Golden Globes, admitted taking a restroom break minutes before winning the best actress in a TV drama series for Chicago Hope.
Though Keaton opened his speech on a comical note, he quickly began offering deep reflections on the night, the craft of acting and his Dopesick role, and he became emotional when talking about his late nephew, who died from drug use.
“There is an argument to be made … that a night like tonight is self-serving, narcissistic, it’s a legitimate argument to be made … But I’m so blessed to do what I do,” he said.
The actor explained how being a part of a production like Dopesick or Worth, could “spawn thought,” “conversation” and “actual change.” “Who gets to have that job? Seriously? How fortunate am I that good can come from something that I do just because I wanted to become an actor?”
“There’s massive inequity in the world. In Dopesick, when you talk about addiction, the way to heal the problem is to accept that you have a problem,” he continued. “Not our country, the entire world, economically, racially, socially, financially, there’s massive inequity in the world. There just is. There’s fair and there’s unfair. There’s not a lot of room in between. I can feel right now the rolling thunder of eye rolling coming across people saying to me things like, ‘shut up and dribble,’ ‘shut up and act.’ The acting I’ll quit. The shutting up, not so much. I’m blessed to do something that might improve someone’s life.”
After thanking the cast and crew, Keaton had to take a moment to pause as he choked back tears. “Given the subject matter, this is for my nephew Michael and my sister Pam. I lost my nephew Michael to drugs, and it hurts.” When the camera showed those in the audience, many could be seen visibly emotional.
In his Hollywood Reporter cover story, Keaton explained that he was drawn to Dopesick, which explores the marketing techniques Purdue Pharma used to recruit OxyContin users and doctors, because of his nephew, who died from fentanyl and heroin use a few years ago. “I thought, ‘Well, if this is even remotely good, I have to do this,’” Keaton told THR. “It happens to be real good.”
Backstage at the SAG Awards, Keaton further spoke about the meaningful role: “You get a chance to be part of something like this that means something. There’s a responsibility that goes along with that so when you win something like this it might move the needle a little bit, that’s a big thing.”
As for the timing of his bathroom break, the actor joked, “I could have sworn I had another 20 minutes, I’m bad at this, so I thought well better hit the bathroom.”
The 28th annual SAG Awards ceremony took place at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California.