Jacqueline Bisset was obviously surprised to be named best supporting television actress at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Golden Globes Sunday night. If she had remarks prepared, she seemed to forget them after taking about a minute to reach the stage from wherever she had been sitting. Instead, Bisset gave one of the night’s stranger speeches, one that despite being halting, awkward, and at times vindictive, was nonetheless affecting for its simple humor and honesty.
Bisset won the award for her role as Lady Cremone in “Dancing on the Edge,” a BBC series set in the London of the Great Depression. Tim Goodman called the murder mystery, broadcast in the United States by Starz, “a compelling look at race, class and jazz music in England during the 1930s.” During her speech, Bisset called on her fellow actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, who stars as Louis in the show.
Hank Stuever described Bisset’s speech this way:
At a loss for words, Bisset soon found some, reaching back across decades of apparent show-biz hurt and neglect, to the chagrin of the person at the control board tasked with muting out bad words. (And missed bleeping out the nefarious S-word.)
Bisset’s goofiness seemed to set a tone: Say what you want, do what you want — it’s the Golden Globes and nobody really cares and the award choices might not make conventional sense. Tremble and sputter your way through it. Pause. (Pause again. Pause yet again.) Climb over and past those tightly packed tables to get to the stage. Make fun of the HFPA in funny, fake foreign accents. Ignore the orchestra cue midway through your incomprehensible acceptance speech and then really ignore the orchestra cue.
A transcript of Bisset’s speech is below:
God (laughter, applause). . . I think it was 47 years ago that the Hollywood Foreign Press gave me a promising — a nomination for the — a promising newcomer! Thank you very much, Hollywood foreign press. I’m absolutely shaken — I can’t believe this — God knows — You’ve nominated me about five times — I think this — anyway — O.K. . . . Scottish background to the front. I always wanted to do something for the BBC. . . and we did this, and this was great. Chiwetel, where are you? Can I see Chiwetel? I need him for inspiration. Where is he? O.K. We had a good cast, didn’t we? It was great. Starz, thank you for putting this on, and . . . Thank you to my British agent, Steve Kenis, and my American agent, Harry Abrams. (Music plays. Bisset seems to recover her poise.) I’m sorry. I’m going to get this together. I want to thank the people who have given me joy, and there have been many. (Bisset is muted by the censor for a few words, but she can be seen to say: “And to the people who have given me”) s---, I say, like my mother, what did she say? — she said, “Go to hell, and don’t come back.” (Laughter, applause. The music changes, but Bisset shows no intention of leaving the stage.) However, however, however, my mother was not entirely me. I believe, if you want to look good, you’ve got to forgive everybody. You have to forgive everybody — it’s the best beauty treatment. Forgiveness for yourself, and for the others. (She blows a kiss. What or whom she is forgiving remains unclear, but no matter — it is forgiven.) I love my friends. I love my family, and you are so kind. Thank you so much.
Find a full list of winners at the Golden Globes here.