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Depp a surprise win at SAG awards

Theron, Robbins, Zellweger take home statues

Johnny Depp won the SAG award for outstanding performance for his role in
Johnny Depp won the SAG award for outstanding performance for his role in "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl."

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Screen Actors Guild awards: Charlize Theron is emotional in accepting her trophy, and honors also go to 'Sex and the City.'
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LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- A cast of Hollywood hobbits and a "Monster" killer played by Charlize Theron won top honors at the Screen Actors Guild awards Sunday, but a fishy pirate portrayed by Johnny Depp stole the show in an upset best actor victory.

The award for best film actress solidified Theron's position as a front-runner for an Oscar, the U.S. film industry's top honors to be given out on February 29. It also cemented the bid for the best movie Oscar from the hobbits of "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King."

But Depp's victory added an element of suspense to next week's Oscars by giving him an award no one expected over favorites Bill Murray and Sean Penn.

The actors of "Rings" were named best cast, and last year's winner in the same group, "Chicago," earned the Oscar.

The SAG awards often provide strong clues to potential Oscar winners because actors make up the largest branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which gives out the Oscars. It has some 1,300 members, of the 5,800 voters for the Academy Awards.

Onstage, Theron thanked "my angel and my date tonight, my mom, who put me on a plane with a one-way ticket to Hollywood when I was 19 years old. Thank you for being so brave and for letting me go to make my dreams come true."

In the low-budget film "Monster," South African-born Theron plays serial killer and former prostitute Aileen Wuornos, who was executed for murdering men who picked her up.

Theron gained 30 pounds for the part, and her makeup and posturing masked her true beauty.

"I knew we were working on something very special. It felt different than anything I have ever done before," Theron told reporters backstage.

Speaking for "Rings," John Rhys-Davies, Gimli in the movie, said, "At the risk of sounding immodest, we deserved this award. This is the most enormous undertaking in film history."

Bill Murray in "Lost in Translation" and Sean Penn in "Mystic River" were believed to have had a lock on the favorite's position for best actor after earning Golden Globe awards for acting in January.

Depp, who played the wild-eyed and fanciful Captain Jack Sparrow in "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl," was not on hand, but backstage Al Pacino, who won the actor award for his role in cable TV mini-series "Angels in America," amplified the shock of everybody in the crowd.

He lifted an eyebrow and declared himself "really surprised" and "really thrilled."

"He's done so many interesting parts over the years that he got a reputation for being quirky, but he really wasn't. He's a fine actor," Pacino said of Depp.

Tim Robbins won best supporting actor for crime thriller "Mystic River" and Renee Zellweger won supporting actress in the Civil War drama "Cold Mountain." It was her second straight SAG award after winning best actress for "Chicago."

SAG also gives out trophies for television, and HBO shows earned five awards including "Sex and the City," which won the best ensemble cast in a TV comedy on the very night it was airing its last episode.

"We will all miss you so much," said "Sex" star Kristin Davis.

Davis, who plays Charlotte on the series about the love lives of four single women in New York, also thanked HBO for being so daring in letting the sexually frank show on the air.

The HBO drama "Six Feet Under" earned the award for best cast in a drama for the second consecutive year.

Meryl Streep was named best actress in a TV movie or mini-series for cable TV network HBO's "Angels in America," about the AIDS epidemic in New York in the early 1980s.

Tony Shalhoub won the SAG trophy for best actor in a TV comedy ("Monk"), and Megan Mullally earned the honor of best actress in a comedy ("Will & Grace"). Kiefer Sutherland earned the SAG award for best actor in a TV drama for "24," and Frances Conroy was named best actress in a drama for HBO's "Six Feet Under."

Copyright 2004 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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