Pop Culture

Backstage at SAG: Real life, and an extra guest

Eddie Steeples’ walk down the Screen Actors Guild Awards red carpet Sunday night finally made up for missing the high school prom.

“This is a dream come true,” said Steeples, who plays Darnell on television’s “My Name is Earl,” which was nominated for the comedy ensemble award. “It’s great to see so many people who I admire, people I’ve been following throughout the years. To be standing right next to them, that’s awesome right there.

“I didn’t go to prom, so this is kind of like my prom,” Steeples said. “My mom is my date.”

Another awards-show virgin, Mark Valley was equally thrilled, especially when he found himself standing right next to George Clooney.

“I’m used to just sitting in my house in Venice,” said Valley, who plays Brad Chase on “Boston Legal.”

'Nothing like real love'
She’s appeared in scores of movies and kept generations of children singing “On the Good Ship Lollipop” for more than 70 years. But Shirley Temple Black says her greatest role has been as a wife, mother and grandmother.

“There’s nothing like real love. Nothing,” Black, 77, said backstage at the Screen Actors Guild Awards where she accepted a lifetime achievement award Sunday night.

She became an actress at age 3, went on to star in such films as “Curly Top,” “Little Miss Marker” and “The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer,” then retired at age 21.

“I have one piece of advice for those of you who want to receive the lifetime achievement award. Start early,” she quipped.

After retiring from acting, Black entered politics, going on to hold several diplomatic posts, including U.S. ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia.

“Politicians are actors too, don’t you think,” she said of the transition. “Usually if you like people and you’re outgoing, not a shy little thing, you can do pretty well in politics.”

Getting real
They both captured Screen Actors Guild awards for playing real-life characters.

But Reese Witherspoon, who captivated audiences as country music legend June Carter Cash, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, who appeared to channel “In Cold Blood” author Truman Capote, said they each approached their roles from different perspectives.

“For me, it was important to meet with her family and tell them how much I really respected her, and that I would honor the integrity that she had,” Witherspoon said backstage Sunday after receiving her best actress award.

She also noted she had played the love of Johnny Cash’s life once before, in a fourth-grade play.

Hoffman, who won the best actor award for his starring turn in “Capote,” said he did all he could to learn about his subject, then tried to set aside the fact that Capote was a historical figure.

“You have to treat the character as a fictional character that you’ve always played,” he said. “You’ve got to kind of forget he’s a real person and that people have opinions and biases of him so you can get your job done.”

An extra guestRachel Weisz, honored by her peers Sunday for her performance in “The Constant Gardener,” sneaked an extra guest into the SAG Awards.

The actress, looking radiant in her second trimester of pregnancy, said the baby she is carrying hardly stirs during awards shows.

“I don’t know if it’s a boy or girl, but it goes completely still,” Weisz said, her hand on her belly. “There’s no movement whatsoever. I think it’s too much excitement.”

Weisz added she was relieved the baby allowed her to fit into her custom-made blue Rochas gown, shipped to her straight from the Paris fashion house.

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