2022 SAG Awards: Helen Mirren Makes a 'Sag' Joke as She's Honored With Lifetime Achievement Award

The actress was honored for more than 50 years of powerful performances at Sunday's awards show.

She's an Oscar winner for her stoic portrayal of how Queen Elizabeth II struggled to manage the royal family's image in the wake of an unimaginable tragedy. She's a member of the Fast & Furious franchise, getting behind the wheel for pulse-pounding chase scenes and going toe-to-toe with Vin Diesel. And now, Dame Helen Mirren is a SAG Life Achievement Award.

The 76-year-old actress was honored with the awards at the 2022 SAG Awards on Sunday, after a career retrospective and a glowing introduction from Kate Winslet and Cate Blanchett.

"Lifetime achievement? It sounds so grand. I guess I am still alive, so I am eligible," Mirren said as she accepted her award. "But honestly, any achievement that I've succeeded in, is a result of my mantra, which is basically, be on time and don't be an ass."

"I hate to say the word 'sag' at my age, it's always S.A.G. for me," she joked as she thanked her fellow guild members. 

"Of course, we know it takes a myriad of people to make a drama... but now, it is the actors I address," she continued, naming performers she's admired, past and present. "I joined a tribe of rogues and vagabonds years ago, and it is you, you actors, that I want to thank, for you wit and humor. I've laughed my whole life, honestly... Together we laugh, we weep, we worry, we change clothes, we throw up and we suffer diarrhea. Don't you? I do." 

"This is for the actors," she concluded. "Thank you."

SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher sang Mirren's praises when she announced the honor last November. “Dame Helen Mirren is quite simply a brilliant and luminous talent. Her work runs the gamut of characters from a not-so-retired CIA super-killer and a ruthless Russian spy handler to a Hungarian cleaning lady and the most exquisite Elizabeth II,” she said. “She has set the bar very high for all actors and, in role after role, she exceeds even her own extraordinary performances.”

Mirren’s first major role came in the 1969 film Age of Consent. She burst onto the scene a little over a decade later in the 1980 film The Long Good Friday and earned her first Oscar nod in 1995 for The Madness of King George. Earlier this year, the actress reprised her role as criminal mastermind Magdalene Shaw in F9

Ahead of her Lifetime Achievement honor, Mirren spoke with ET on the SAG Awards red carpet, raving about the recognition from her peers -- and her stunning pink ensemble.

"I look like I'm going to the prom!" the actress joked. "I've even got my corsage... I'm the homecoming queen tonight."

Of earning a career award from her acting peers, Mirren raved, "I have to say, it's absolutely amazing. I joined SAG when I first came to America to make a film in the late '70s... and it's not just that it's coming from my peers, it's the fact that it's coming from American actors, I have to say, is particularly important for me. When I was in England doing theater, I was a great admirer of American film acting, and I still am. I just find what American actors do on film is extraordinary, and we all watch that and try to learn from it so, so receiving it from my fellow American actors is very important."

"We come and go, all of us as actors. you know, and you have your moment in the sun if you're lucky," she continued. "The great thing about film acting is that your performances can live for a long time... I just want to have been a respectful and a creative member of the acting profession in the time that was allotted to me."

The actress already has three SAG Awards -- she won two for 2001’s Gosford Park, as a supporting actress and a member of the ensemble, and also took home the award for lead female actor for 2006’s The Queen.

Mirren is also an Oscar, Tony and multiple Emmy Award winner. So, is she ready to clinch that EGOT? "I would love to get a Grammy, that would be the coolest thing ever," she said, adding with a laugh, "The problem is, I can’t sing. It would have to be a spoken word album."

The 2022 Screen Actors Guild Awards air live on TNT and TBS on Sunday, Feb. 27 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT. Stay tuned to ETonline.com for complete coverage of the 2022 awards season.