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Last Updated: Monday, 23 February, 2004, 05:54 GMT
Surprise win at pre-Oscar awards
Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean
Johnny Depp was not there to collect the award
Johnny Depp has been named best actor at the Screen Actors Guild awards - throwing this week's Oscars wide open.

He won the award for Pirates of the Caribbean - in a surprise victory over the favourites to take the title, Bill Murray and Sean Penn.

All three are also nominated for best actor at the Oscars on Sunday.

The Screen Actors Guild awards can sometimes give clues to potential Oscar winners, as film actors make up 22% of the Oscar voters.

Depp was not present to collect his award.

The Lord of the Rings cast were honoured at the ceremony in Los Angeles, possibly boosting the chances of a best film Oscar for The Return of the King, the third part in the blockbuster epic.

Speaking for the cast, John Rhys-Davies, who plays the aggressive dwarf Gimli, told the audience: "At the risk of sounding immodest, we deserved this award.

"This is the most enormous undertaking in film history."

The award for best actress went to Charlize Theron - widely tipped for an Oscar for her role as serial killer Aileen Wuornos in the low-budget film Monster.

Accepting her award in Los Angeles, 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."

Farewell to Sex and the City

Tim Robbins won best supporting actor for crime thriller Mystic River and Renee Zellweger won supporting actress in Civil War drama Cold Mountain.

In the television categories, Sex and the City won the best ensemble cast in a TV comedy - on the same night that the final episode was broadcast in the US.

"We will all miss you so much," said Kristin Davis, who plays Charlotte in the series which follows the love lives of four women in New York.

Six Feet Under won the award for best cast for the second year running, with Frances Conroy winning best actress in a drama series. She plays Ruth Fisher in the comedy drama, which is set in a Californian funeral parlour.

Kiefer Sutherland won the SAG award for best actor in a TV drama for 24, the real-time drama now in its third series.

Meryl Streep was named best actress in a TV movie or mini-series for Angels in America, about the Aids epidemic in New York in the early 1980s. Al Pacino won the best actor award for his role in the series.

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