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Behind the Scenes at the Movies for Grownups Awards

Brendan Fraser, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Jeff Bridges and more celebrated their wins, and we were there to capture it

spinner image "Abbott Elementary" star Sheryl Lee Ralph
“Abbott Elementary” star Sheryl Lee Ralph
Peter Yang

What happens behind the scenes at AARP’s Movies for Grownups Awards ceremony? Welcome to your front-row seat! After winners accepted their awards and left the stage, they stopped by a special AARP photo booth. The exultant results are below. (You can watch AARP’s Movies for Grownups Awards ceremony on Great Performances on PBS on Friday, Feb. 17, at 9 p.m. ET.)

“The Whale” stars Hong Chau and Brendan Fraser

spinner image Hong Chau (left) and Brendan Fraser
Peter Yang

Hong Chau presented the best actor award to Brendan Fraser for his performance in The Whale. Fraser, 54, quoted Herman Melville, appropriate since that’s the author his teacher character in The Whale is an expert on: “To know how to grow old is the master work of wisdom, and one of the most difficult chapters in the great art of living.”

“She Said” star Jennifer Ehle, presenter Wendie Malick, and “She Said” stars Patricia Clarkson, Sarah Ann Masse and Katherine Kendall

spinner image "She Said" stars Jennifer Ehle (left), Patricia Clarkson (middle), Sarah Ann Masse (second to right) and Katherine Kendall (right) with presenter Wendie Malick
Peter Yang

Accepting the award for best ensemble cast, Patricia Clarkson, 63, joked that she wanted to give a special shout-out to her date. “It’s my godson. ... His name is Nicholas. He’s 17 years old. He’s way, way, way too young to be here, but he looks forward to joining AARP. Thirty-three years from now, we’ll all be dead,” she said.

“Elvis” director Baz Luhrmann

spinner image "Elvis" director Baz Luhrmann
Peter Yang

“What I do like about [AARP] is that it also celebrates and acknowledges experience and age. And I’m not just saying that because I’ve just turned 60,” Baz Luhrmann said as he accepted the best director award.

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“Till” stars Jalyn Hall and Frankie Faison

spinner image "Till" stars Jalyn Hall (left) and Frankie Faison
Peter Yang

Accepting the award for best intergenerational movie, Frankie Faison noted the movie’s ability to bring all ages together. “This film is one that brings young people and the elderly together,” he said. “This is the spirit of Till. The Spirit of Till is to show the young people that they have support of the elders, that they’re there for them, they’re pulling for them, and they will defend them at any cost.”

“The Fabelmans” stars Judd Hirsch and Gabriel LaBelle

spinner image "The Fabelmans" stars Judd Hirsch (left) and Gabriel LaBelle
Peter Yang

Judd Hirsch, 87, who won the best supporting actor award for his exhilarating, brief performance as a wise elder relative in The Fabelmans (as well as his second Oscar nomination, making him the second-oldest nominee in history), observed, “Steven Spielberg said there were no aliens or dinosaurs in this movie. Well, he was wrong — I am one of both of these things.” Clutching his trophy, he urged all young actors to “eat well, exercise, don’t take drugs, wait about 60 years, and you can get one of these.” Gabriel LaBelle presented the award to Hirsch.

Presenter Annette Bening and “Women Talking” star Judith Ivey

spinner image Presenter Annette Bening and "Women Talking" star Judith Ivey
Peter Yang

Best supporting actress winner Judith Ivey, 71, said that her dad, 95, and her mom, who just celebrated her 101st birthday, have something in common with her. “We all are members of AARP. We often talk about what we read in the magazine. ... We shared that one of our most informative articles was ‘The Best Way to Get Up After a Fall.’ I never thought I’d be sharing that experience with my parents. But thank you, AARP!”

“Top Gun: Maverick” star Glen Powell and producer Jerry Bruckheimer

spinner image "Top Gun: Maverick" star Glen Powell (left) and producer Jerry Bruckheimer
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“I’ve produced over 50 movies and more than 2,000 hours of television, but there was one question that everybody kept asking: Will there ever be another Top Gun?” said Jerry Bruckheimer, 79, producer of the best picture winner. “After almost four decades, all the pieces fell into place, and we finally released the much-anticipated sequel just when everybody seemed to need it the most.” Glen Powell presented the award to Bruckheimer.

“The Old Man” star Jeff Bridges

spinner image "The Old Man" star Jeff Bridges
Peter Yang

Jeff Bridges, 73, who won best TV actor for The Old Man, which also won best TV series, basked in a standing ovation and said how wonderful it was to share the triumph of their work with his longtime friend and colleague T. Bone Burnett, 75. Burnett scored the show, as well as Bridges’ Oscar-winning 2009 Crazy Heart, and presented him the award. Bridges noted that it took three years to finish shooting the series, thanks to delays caused by the pandemic and his cancer diagnosis. But he joked that he and the hit show might have had an unfair advantage among AARP awards voters, since the title “may have swayed a few votes.”

“Abbott Elementary” stars Sheryl Lee Ralph and Lisa Ann Walter

spinner image "Abbott Elementary" stars Sheryl Lee Ralph (left) and Lisa Ann Walter
Peter Yang

​Best TV actress winner Sheryl Lee Ralph, 66, gave a shout-out to her 100-year-old mother-in-law after accepting the award from costar Lisa Ann Walter. “She is still driving,” Ralph said of her mother-in-law. “She is still tap dancing every week. At 100 you, too, can still be driving; you can still be tap dancing; you can still be wearing dresses like this.”


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“The Old Man” cocreator Jon Steinberg

spinner image "The Old Man" co-creator Jon Steinberg
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Accepting the award for best TV show, cocreator Jon Steinberg reflected on the meaning behind the show. “We managed to do what we set out to do, which was to tell a story about human beings at a point in their life in which they assumed all that was left for them was running out the last act of a predetermined story, but who then woke up to the idea that it’s never too late to find meaning and connection and purpose in this life, and to make bold choices to pursue it all,” he said.

“Living” screenwriter Kazuo Ishiguro and presenter Susan Orlean

spinner image "Living" screenwriter Kazuo Ishiguro (left) and presenter Susan Orlean
Peter Yang

“The exchanging of stories isn’t just fun or desirable; it’s something essential to our well-being,” Kazuo Ishiguro, 68, said while accepting the award for best screenwriter. “Stories are how we humans share our feelings and ideas, our anger, our sadnesses, our hopes, our regrets, our differing perspectives and visions. It’s where we go to say to each other, ‘This is how it feels to me.’ ”

“Black Bird” star Paul Walter Hauser and executive producer Kary Antholis

spinner image "Blackbird" star Paul Walter Hauser (left) and executive producer Kary Antholis
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Kary Antholis accepted the award for best TV movie/limited series. He thanked Dennis Lehane, who wrote the role of Big Jim specifically for Ray Liotta (who died last year at age 67). “He felt no other actor could do it the justice Ray could, and he was right. We miss you, Ray. We dedicate this to you.”

Alison Maxwell spent 20 years at USA TODAY, most recently as managing editor of the Life section.


Tim Appelo covers entertainment and is the film and TV critic for AARP. Previously, he was the entertainment editor at Amazon, video critic at Entertainment Weekly, and a critic and writer for The Hollywood Reporter, People, MTV, The Village Voice and LA Weekly.

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