SAG Awards 2012 backstage: Alec Baldwin, 'The Help' cast, Jessica Lange, and more

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Image Credit: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

The Screen Actors Guild awards are always a lovefest – insider-y in some ways, casual and more fun than the Oscars or the Globes in others, they allow Hollywood to let loose a little during awards season. Backstage, the winners were open, honest, and genuinely touched to be awarded by their peers. Tonight’s show was also interesting given the SAG/AFTRA merger agreement this weekend, and many of the attendees were wearing “one union” pins to signify their support.

Here are a few fun moments with the winners that you didn’t see on TV:

Christopher Plummer [winner for best supporting actor, Beginners]
On his wife saving his life:
“I was a terrible drunk, and she said if you’re serious about getting it together you have to cut down on the drinking. She was really quite vicious about it.”

Octavia Spencer [winner for best supporting actress, The Help]
On how Minny affected her and why she’s speaking out on gay rights and civil liberties:
“I grew up in the Bible belt and I realized that to be silent is to be passive and taking this journey with Minny and Aibileen … I realized that I can’t be silent.”I

On body image:
“If more women ate, they’d be a lot happier.”

Viola Davis [winner for best actress, The Help]
On beating out Meryl Streep:
“I don’t see that ‘best’ thing going on. Every time I start a job I feel like I’m starting with a clean slate. So it’s hard for me to feel like I triumphed over Meryl Streep. I just feel like more people checked my box more.”

On how making the film affected her personally:
“During the course of promoting this movie and having to defend my choices in playing a maid in 1963 Mississippi, I’ve had to find my voice as a woman, and as a woman of color.”

Cicely Tyson [winner for best ensemble cast, The Help]

On Davis and Spencer’s wins:
“What I feel is extreme promise and hope. There was always this idea that women could never work at the box office. Well, we overworked this time. I think we made history tonight and I hope it continues to go on that path.”

Jean Dujardin [winner for best actor, The Artist]
On how French actors who’ve won SAGs have often gone on to win the Oscar:
He broke into a rousing rendition of the French national anthem.

Steve Buscemi [winner for best actor in a TV drama, Boardwalk Empire]
On always playing character actors and finally being a lead:
“I still feel like a character actor. Truly, for me, it’s being part of an ensemble. To me, the lead is Atlantic City.”

Michael Pitt [winner for best ensemble TV drama cast, Boardwalk Empire]
On winning two years in a row:
“It feels good. I’m hungry. I want a cigarette.”

Nolan Gould [winner for best ensemble TV comedy cast, Modern Family]
On what the kids have really learned from the adults on Modern Family:
“I have learned lots of curse words from them. No, actually I learned how to be a better actor.”

Ty Burrell [winner for best ensemble TV comedy cast, Modern Family]
On what he’s learned from the Modern Family kids:
“Honestly, I’ve learned about things like union rules. They’ve been acting longer than I have.”

Jessica Lange [winner for best actress, TV drama, American Horror Story]
On her unique role in American Horror Story:
“It’s interesting because once I kind of threw my lot in with this project, the ride was actually quite great. You couldn’t second guess, and you couldn’t overthink, and for me, that was a great way to work. There was a certain urgency to it. It’s a big character, and I had a lot of fun with it.”

Alec Baldwin [winner for best actor, TV comedy, 30 Rock]
On being an actor who speaks out:
“During the time that [entertainment journalism] has grown, I’ve had to learn my lesson, that you should keep it light, talk about what you’re working on, and there are other venues to talk about your political views, like MSNBC or CNN or Huffington Post is a good place to air those views. The good news is there are places to deal with those sides of your personality.  I’m still scared to speak out. I want Season 7 really badly!”

On Words with Friends:
“I’m still playing Words with Friends, now on Virgin Atlantic.”

Follow Laura on Twitter @laurahertzfeld

Read more:
SAG Award winners announced
EW’s Pre-Academy Awards Scorecard 
Photo Gallery: SAG Awards Best/Worst Fashion

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