Jean Smart Reveals the 'Really Special' Way 13-Year-Old Son Forrest Reacted to Her Emmy Win

The 'Hacks' actress also opened up to ET about her late husband, Richard Gilliland.

Backstage at Sunday's 2021 Emmy Awards, Jean Smart reflected on what it meant to win after "such a difficult last six months." Smart, 70, took home Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her performance on Hacks and, as she acknowledged onstage during her acceptance speech, the celebration comes in the wake of the death of her late husband, Richard Gilliland.

"He'd be very happy for me," Smart told ET's Lauren Zima on the Emmys' Winners Walk. The couple, who met as co-stars on Designing Women, married in 1987. Gilliland died in March at age 71.

With the Emmys marking her first awards show since his death, she brought along a special date: Her son, Forrest, whom she and Gilliland adopted in 2009. "I was thrilled to share it with my youngest, and he's ecstatic!" Smart told ET. "So that was really special."

Jean Smart and son Forrest Gilliland attend the 2021 Emmy Awards. (Getty Images)

Smart also gave Forrest and her eldest son, Connor, thanks onstage during the telecast, calling them "both very courageous individuals in their own right and put up with Mommy commuting from Philadelphia and back. But Hacks has been such a thrill. I can't even tell you."

She reiterated the latter point backstage. As a now four-time winner with seven additional nominations (including a second nod this year alone for her work on Mare of Easttown), Smart admitted that she's happy to be rewarded for something she can stand behind.

"If you did something that you thought was kind of OK, you didn't feel like it was your best and then you got rewarded for it, that wouldn't feel that great. But to be really proud of something and then get honored for it, that's extra special," she said. "Unfortunately, I have to go to work at the crack of dawn tomorrow so I can't party too much tonight."

The 2021 Primetime Emmy Awards, hosted by Cedric the Entertainer, aired live Sunday, Sept. 19 on CBS and Paramount+. For complete Emmys coverage, stay tuned to


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