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Idris Elba Jokes About Swearing in Front of Oprah Winfrey as He Opens 2024 SAG Awards

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Idris Elba kicked off the 2024 Screen Actors Guild Awards on Saturday by proving he’s got more going for him than his devastating good looks, undeniable acting skills and sizzling chemistry with just about anyone who stars opposite him. He’s also pretty funny!

Making his hosting debut for the year’s big night for TV and films, the British actor picked up the end of the awards show’s classic opener, in which some of the night’s nominees introduced themselves via heartfelt or hilarious anecdotes about their careers and the industry, all culminating with “…and I’m an actor.”

Elba dished about how his “English charm” landed him inside of Robert De Niro’s New York City office, where he took the chance to try to impress the star. Elba shared that he had hoped to land a role in the Bronx Tale star’s upcoming project. However, that dream was crushed when, instead, he found himself ushered out by De Niro’s producing partner at the time.

But things didn’t turn out completely sour, with the young actor seeing the gesture as a sign that “Kid, you’re going places.” And ultimately that found him … an actor.. on the stage hosting the 30th annual ceremony!

As the host introduced the first awards show to stream live on Netflix, he joked that he couldn’t wait to get home and have the streamer recommend the awards show for him to watch “based on all the other stuff that I watch myself in.”

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Elba noted that because the show was being streamed, it meant that there would be no commercials or breaks for the show’s two hours. “So for those of you who were smart to bring a flask, remember, sharing is caring,” he quipped as the camera panned to Rhea Perlman taking a swig from a silver flask and then offering it to Abbott Elementary‘s Lisa Ann Walter. Walter gladly took a sip herself before turning to her Abbott co-star Sheryl Lee Ralph, who declined, mouthing a very Barbara Howard-esque “No, thank you.”

The Luther star also offered some insight into the rules about swearing, offering a glib, “I don’t think we can go full Succession level, maybe Ted Lasso level, minus a couple of the players.”

“Why don’t we just control ourselves and, I don’t know, here’s good rule of thumb: Maybe don’t say anything you wouldn’t say in front of Oprah,” he added. 

When the camera pans to a gobbsmacked Oprah Winfrey, Elba choked out, “F**k, that was Oprah!”

The star then took a moment to offer his gratitude to the actors and more who “stood up for the SAG-AFTRA in solidarity and support,” before launching into the first award presenter of the night.

The star-studded evening is set to feature plenty of famous performers taking the stage to present awards to their peers, including Jennifer Aniston, Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Anne Hathaway, Erika Alexander, Danielle Brooks, Sterling K. Brown, Michael Cera, Jessica Chastain, Robert Downey Jr., Fran Drescher, Billie Eilish, America Ferrera, Brendan Fraser, Taraji P. Henson, Troy Kotsur, Greta Lee, Melissa McCarthy, Cillian Murphy, Glen Powell, Issa Rae, Storm Reid, Margot Robbie, Tracee Ellis Ross, Alexander Skarsgård, Omar Sy, Naomi Watts, Jeffrey Wright and more.

The SAG Awards are voted on by members of the Screen Actors Guild and honor the best performances of the year on film and television. The “Barbenheimer” phenomenon continued this year, with Barbie and Oppenheimer earning the most total film nominations, with four apiece.

In television, Succession continued to reign supreme with five nods, while The BearThe Last of Us and Ted Lasso followed with four each.


The 2024 Screen Actors Guild Awards is on Saturday, Feb. 24, at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET and is streaming live on Netflix from the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall in Los Angeles. Follow along at ETonline.com for full coverage from the awards show, including red carpet arrivals, winners and more.

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