The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards recently held its 2023 ceremony. To the joy (and maybe not surprise) of many, the film Everything Everywhere All at Once took home four trophies. One of them included the prestigious Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture award, which recognizes the best film ensemble. As different members of the cast took to the mic to express their happiness and gratitude—including Ke Huy Quan and Michelle Yeoh—one actor used it to do a playful roast of his castmates and crew. James Hong, an actor who recently turned 94 years old and got his SAG card 70 years ago, stole the show with his speech.
Hong began his acting career in 1954 and has been in more than 650 films and television shows. They include Bonanza (1960), Perry Mason (1962–1963), Chinatown (1974), Blade Runner (1982), and Big Trouble in Little China (1986). Aside from Everything Everywhere All at Once, he more recently voiced Mr. Gao in the 2022 animated film Turning Red.
Hong started his speech in Catonese, which Yeoh translated as “Friends, relatives, so happy that you're all here tonight.” Hong then began talking in English, stating, “Actually, I said that because we might be broadcasted in Hong Kong. Who knows, right?” He then recalled times in the mid-20th century that were clearly racist towards AAPI actors. “The producers said the Asians were not good enough and they are not box office. But look at us now!”
It's at this point that Hong began to poke fun at his co-stars and the writers of the film. “Actually, we are not all Chinese,” he said. “But Jamie Lee—Lee is a good Chinese name,” he declared, sharing that his mother's name was Lee Shui Fa. “So, you know, I feel very akin to her. I've never had such a good time as being with these jerks in this movie.”
Hong then moved on to “the Daniels,” aka screenwriters Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. “I don't know what they were thinking when they wrote that script,” he asserted. “Right? Did you understand all of it?” Continuing, “They do crazy things…that's those two Daniel boys. Of course, he's not Asian,” Hong said in reference to Scheinert, “but we excuse that.”
Hong closed out his roast by referencing the Screen Actors Guild. The organization was founded in 1933 as a labor union for film and television workers to combat the studio system exploitation happening in Hollywood; at that time, actors couldn’t take on projects at multiple studios as they do now. Instead, they were forced into oppressive multi-year contracts with major movie studios.
“So, I hope I will come back when I'm 100 years old,” Hong said. “SAG is a wonderful organization. I have to tell you this: When I was a board of director member, Charlton Heston was the president and Leon James was one of the members. And he said to me and some other people that it was not long ago when he and a room of about 30 people said, ‘What are we going to do?' And that was the starting of SAG. And look at you guys now, all of you and all over America, and some people are even in Europe, who knows?”
Hong ended his remarks with one last joke. “That's all I'm going to say, because otherwise, we'll be kicked off the stage. But if they try, I'll quote what Michelle said: ‘Shut up. I can beat you up!'”
Watch the entire acceptance speech below.
At the 2023 SAG Awards, the film Everything Everywhere All at Once won Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.
Many members of the cast spoke, but 94-year-old actor James Hong stole the show by poking some fun at his castmates and crew.
One of them was Jamie Lee Curtis. “But Jamie Lee—Lee is a good Chinese name,” Hong declared, sharing that his mother's name was Lee Shui Fa. “So, you know, I feel very akin to her.”
Hong then moved on to “the Daniels,” aka screenwriters Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. “I don't know what they were thinking when they wrote that script,” he said. “Right? Did you understand all of it?”
The actor ended his remarks with one last joke. “That's all I'm going to say, because otherwise, we'll be kicked off the stage. But if they try, I'll quote what Michelle said: ‘Shut up. I can beat you up!'”
Watch the entire speech:
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