SANTA MONICA, Calif., Feb. 24 -- A good year just keeps getting better for actor Nicolas Cage. Cage added to his growing list of awards for his role as a suicidal alcoholic in 'Leaving Las Vegas' when he won best film actor honors Saturday at the second annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. Cage already has won a Golden Globe for the role as well as various critics' awards, and he is considered a strong favorite to win the Oscar next month. 'It just happened all at once with this one film,' Cage said backstage of the burst of recognition. 'I'm surprised because we all joined together to make this film for ourselves. I don't think any of us expected this.' 'Leaving Las Vegas has been a critical and, now, commercial success despite its shoestring budget ($3.5 million) and dark theme. Cage said he worked for 'a fraction' of his usual fee. 'We've all been greatly rewarded,' he said. Other film winners were Susan Sarandon as best actress for her role in 'Dead Man Walking' and 'Apollo 13' for best ensemble performance. 'Apollo 13''s Ed Harris won best supporting actor, while Kate Winslet was named best supporting actress for her work in 'Sense and Sensibility.' In the television categories, top-rated 'ER' was the only multiple winner. Anthony Edwards was named best dramatic series actor, and the cast captured the drama series ensemble award. 'The X-Files' co-star Gillian Anderson won best actress in a drama series, prevailing over Christine Lahti of 'Chicago Hope,' Sharon Lawrence of 'NYPD Blue,' Emmy winner Juliana Margulies of 'ER' and Sela Ward of 'Sisters.'
Anderson admitted she was surprised to hear her name. 'David (Duchovny) didn't win and I thought it was a trend,' she said. 'It figures. I was all prepared for the Golden Globes with a big, long speech....' David Hyde Pierce was named best comedy series actor and Christine Baranski of 'Cybill' won best comedy series actress. Baranski and Hyde Pierce both won over the nominal stars of their shows, Cybill Shepherd and 'Frasier' star Kelsey Grammer. Asked how Grammer reacted to his win, Hyde Pierce said, 'He was very sweet. He said, 'You're a dead man.'' In the TV movie or miniseries categories, Gary Sinise won best actor for 'Truman' and Alfre Woodard best actress for 'The Piano Lesson (Hallmark Hall of Fame).' 'I can't imagine myself in another industry,' Woodard said. 'We're vagabonds, clowns, crackpots.' She also advised struggling actors to 'hang in there, keep the faith.' Although the SAG Awards are too new to be seen as a forecast of likely Oscar winners, Sarandon's and Cage's chances for Academy Awards probably have improved. In 'Dead Man Walking,' based on a true story, Sarandon plays a nun who is a spiritual adviser to a death row inmate played by Sean Penn. The film attempts to show both sides of the death penalty issue. 'We didn't try to change anyone's mind about the death penalty,' she said. 'I would hope the greatest thing that could happen is that the film could help the issue be viewed on the basis of reality, and not a sound bite that a lot of people have been elected on.' Cast members of 'Apollo 13' -- Tom Hanks, Harris, Kevin Bacon and Clint Howard -- accepted the ensemble award, then later lamented the fact that director Ron Howard was left without an Oscar nomination, although the movie is up for best picture. Hanks said, 'Unfortunately there are injustices that are yet to be rectified and probably never will be.' Robert Redford, whose acting credits include 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,' 'The Sting,' 'All the President's Men,' 'The Natural,' 'Out of Africa' and now 'Up Close and Personal,' was given the 32nd annual Life Achievement Award. 'I couldn't be more honored,' Redford said in a prerecorded acceptance speech. 'I feel mixed and strange to be honored for life achievement when my life is still a work in progress. I'll accept this in the spirit in which it is given.' The various 'Star Trek' TV series and movies also were recognized for 'outstanding portrayal of the American scene,' although they are set in space with an intergalactic cast of characters. Presenter Jimmy Smits noted that the mix of race and gender in all the casts embodied the American ideal. Actress Magel Barrett, widow of 'Star Trek' creator Gene Roddenberry, said she believes 'Star Trek' can last forever. 'It is our 20th century mythology,' she said.