Belfast Telegraph

Depp surprises Lee with film award

Sir Christopher Lee was tonight surprised by his friend Johnny Depp when he turned up to present him with his fellowship from the British Film Institute.

The 91-year-old actor, known for his appearances as Dracula and a string of other villains such as Bond baddie Scaramanga in The Man With The Golden Gun, Saruman in Lord Of The Rings, and Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequels, was honoured for his long and illustrious film career at the London Film Festival Awards at Banqueting House.

Depp, who has worked with Sir Christopher on several Tim Burton projects including Sleepy Hollow, sneaked into the awards ceremony to surprise his friend.

He and Sir Christopher embraced warmly on stage.

Presenting the award Depp, sporting bleached blonde locks for a new film role, said: "It is my great honour to bestow this award to a very great man. He's inspired me like he has so many, he's fascinated me like he has so many.

"He's been a wonderful individual and over the years I've had the pleasure of working with him and it has been a childhood dream come true.

"But as great as it is to work with him, that pleasure doesn't compare with getting to know him and being able to count him as a true friend.

"A national treasure and a genuine artist. I love ya!"

Sir Christopher was visibly moved and had a tear in his eye as he took to the stage.

His voice was shaking he said to Depp: "I don't know what to say. I didn't know you were going be here and it's a very emotional moment for me as you can probably hear. I must try and pull myself together.

"I think I should also say, Mr chairman, wise general members of the council, I was told if I got an award of this kind I would probably cry.

"Not strictly true. Tearful no, fearful occasionally.

"When I take a look back, and its a long one, 67 years, at the characters I've played I get a truly strange feeling they were all played by somebody else, and not by me.

"And there are a few occasions when it has been the case I wish it had!

"I was reminded of something said by the late Thomas Beecham, a very great conductor, he said, 'One should try everything once, except incest and folk dancing.'

"Well I can prove not guilty in either case because I have been married for 52 years to a wonderful woman and she's here tonight with our daughter.

"And folk dancing - I don't think that's for me especially with the problems I have with walking.

"Somebody told me Johnny wouldn't be able to come tonight as he was somewhere else in Europe.

"I can't thank you enough.

"He means an enormous amount to me. He is one of very few young actors on screen today who's truly a star. I don't think he likes that expression very much but I'm sure he knows what I mean.

"Everything he does has a meaning. He's a joy to work with, an actor's dream and certainly a director's dream.

"I could go on a long time but I'd probably embarrass him.

"I cannot thank you enough for coming here and giving me this award. It's a great joy to me."

Sir Christopher has amassed more than 250 screen credits, including his vampire appearances, his role as sinister Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man and his collaborations with Burton.

He has often said that his title role in Jinnah, about the founder of Pakistan, is one of his favourite portrayals.

Joanna Lumley hosted the awards ceremony where guests included awards jurors Saoirse Ronan and Joanne Froggatt.

The young stars of The Selfish Giant, Conner Chapman and Shaun Thomas, both 16, narrowly missed out on the Best British Newcomer, but were highly commended for their performances.

The 57th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express ends with the gala screening of Saving Mr Banks starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson in Leicester Square tomorrow night.

:: BFI London Film Festival Awards Winners

Best Film:

Ida, directed by Pawel Pawlikowski.

Best British Newcomer:

Jonathan Asser, screenwriter of Starred Up.

The Sutherland Award for First Feature:

Anthony Chen, director of Ilo Ilo.

The Grierson Award for Best Documentary:

My Fathers, My Mother And Me, directed by Paul-Julien Robert.

BFI Fellowship:

Sir Christopher Lee.


From Belfast Telegraph