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Russell Crowe delivers a politically-charged opening speech at the 2021 AACTA Awards


Russell Crowe opened the 2021 AACTA Awards with a politically-charged speech, urging the star-studded crowd to ‘use your voice’.

The 57-year-old actor admitted that he was ‘supposed to tell the winners to be as time efficient and as apolitical as they can be in their acceptance speeches’. 

‘But this is the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts – that last word “arts”, to my mind, is your licence to be as political as you want to be,’ he began. 

Speaking out: Russell Crowe (pictured) opened the 2021 AACTA Awards with a politically-charged speech, urging the star-studded crowd to 'use your voice'

Speaking out: Russell Crowe (pictured) opened the 2021 AACTA Awards with a politically-charged speech, urging the star-studded crowd to ‘use your voice’

‘To be as active in your community as you need to be. As loud, on behalf of those who don’t yet have a voice, as you have to be. 

‘As artists, you have the licence to overthrow empires. To hold mirrors to hypocrisy. To shine lights into dark corners and bring humanity into political discourse in a way that other professions simply can’t. 

‘Respect that. Use your voice. So, as I was saying, if you do win, by all means, share your joy, make your thank you’s, take your moment… efficiently.’

'As artists, you have the licence to overthrow empires. To hold mirrors to hypocrisy. To shine lights into dark corners and bring humanity into political discourse in a way that other professions simply can't,' he said

‘As artists, you have the licence to overthrow empires. To hold mirrors to hypocrisy. To shine lights into dark corners and bring humanity into political discourse in a way that other professions simply can’t,’ he said

History: He then handed the microphone over to Rebel Wilson (left), who recounted her first meeting with the Gladiator star

History: He then handed the microphone over to Rebel Wilson (left), who recounted her first meeting with the Gladiator star

He then handed the microphone over to Rebel Wilson, who recounted her first meeting with the Gladiator star.

‘I have to tell you guys a story about the very first time that I met Russell. I was a young actor. I was like 19,’ began the 41-year-old actress. 

‘And, um, he was sitting there having dinner with Nicole Kidman at STC [Sydney Theatre Company]. And I was like, “Oh, my God.” 

'You know, he did though, a few years ago, give me a hug. And then he, like, sweetly whispered in my ear, "I thought I told you to f**k off,"' Rebel recounted

‘You know, he did though, a few years ago, give me a hug. And then he, like, sweetly whispered in my ear, “I thought I told you to f**k off,”‘ Rebel recounted

‘And I went up to them and I was like really nervous, and he turned to me and he looked me right in the eyes, and he just said, “F**k off.” It’s a true story.’

She added: ‘You know, he did though, a few years ago, give me a hug. And then he, like, sweetly whispered in my ear, “I thought I told you to f**k off.”

Sarah Snook and Simon Baker took to the stage to present the AACTA’s first-ever Audience Choice Award, with Eric Bana announced as the winner. 

Presenting duties: Sarah Snook (left) and Simon Baker (right) took to the stage to present the AACTA's first-ever Audience Choice Award, with Eric Bana announced as the winner

Presenting duties: Sarah Snook (left) and Simon Baker (right) took to the stage to present the AACTA’s first-ever Audience Choice Award, with Eric Bana announced as the winner

'OK, definitely, definitely wasn't expecting that one. Um... wow! Favourite Actor! What are the perks? What do I get with this?' joked Eric Bana (left)

‘OK, definitely, definitely wasn’t expecting that one. Um… wow! Favourite Actor! What are the perks? What do I get with this?’ joked Eric Bana (left)

‘OK, definitely, definitely wasn’t expecting that one. Um… wow! Favourite Actor! What are the perks? What do I get with this?’ joked the 53-year-old actor.

He added: ‘To all the actors in this category, I can’t believe that I’m more popular than you now.’ 

Sam Neill presented the award for Best Lead Actress in a Film, addressing some recent changes to other awards shows. 

Taking to the stage: Sam Neill (pictured) presented the award for Best Lead Actress in a Film, addressing some recent changes to other awards shows

Taking to the stage: Sam Neill (pictured) presented the award for Best Lead Actress in a Film, addressing some recent changes to other awards shows

Simply the best: Judy Davis was announced as the winner of Best Lead Actress in a Film for her role in Nitram, picking up her third AACTA Award

Simply the best: Judy Davis was announced as the winner of Best Lead Actress in a Film for her role in Nitram, picking up her third AACTA Award

‘You know, in these modern times, it’s often suggested that there shouldn’t be a separate category for men and women in these actor awards,’ the 74-year-old began. 

‘That’s a really bad idea. Because if men – people like me – were put up against women actors, they would wipe the bloody floor with us. That’s a word on behalf of the patriarchy.’  

Judy Davis was announced as the winner for her role in Nitram, picking up her third AACTA Award. 

Teaming up: Deborah Mailman (right) presented the award for Best Supporting Actor in a Film alongside American actor Vincent D'Onofrio (left)

Teaming up: Deborah Mailman (right) presented the award for Best Supporting Actor in a Film alongside American actor Vincent D’Onofrio (left)

Calling in: The award went to Anthony LaPaglia (pictured), who accepted via video link, citing work and COVID restrictions for his absence

Calling in: The award went to Anthony LaPaglia (pictured), who accepted via video link, citing work and COVID restrictions for his absence

Deborah Mailman presented the award for Best Supporting Actor in a Film alongside American actor Vincent D’Onofrio.

‘Well, first, I want to say – to be standing next to Deborah Mailman here is incredible. Deborah, I just bow to your talent, my dear,’ the 62-year-old Law & Order star told his co-host.

The award went to Anthony LaPaglia, who accepted via video link, citing work and COVID restrictions for his absence. 

Winner: Favourite Competition Reality Show went to LEGO Masters Australia, with host Hamish Blake (right) accepting the award

Winner: Favourite Competition Reality Show went to LEGO Masters Australia, with host Hamish Blake (right) accepting the award

Repeat winner: Essie Davis won for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Nitram, winning the award two years in a row

Repeat winner: Essie Davis won for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Nitram, winning the award two years in a row

Favourite Competition Reality Show went to LEGO Masters Australia, with host Hamish Blake accepting the award.

‘Two AACTAs for Lego Masters – Eric Bana’s got one. Crazy. Absolutely crazy,’ began the stunned 39-year-old. 

Essie Davis won for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Nitram, winning the award two years in a row. 

MasterChef Australia picked up the award for Best Reality Program, with all three judges – Andy Allen, Melissa Leong and Jock Zonfrillo – accepting via video.

‘To win this award in our 13th year is a massive achievement, and we couldn’t be prouder of MasterChef,’ they said. 

Caleb Landry Jones won the award for Best Lead Actor in Film for his role in Nitram, which was inspired by the 1996 Port Arthur massacre.

‘Everybody knows there are a lot of folks who didn’t want it done and thought it was impossible to do, and that beautiful group of people, you know, proved otherwise,’ said the 32-year-old. 

The Audience Choice Award for Favourite Drama went to Wentworth, while Favourite Film was awarded to The Dry.  

More to come.   



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