Royal nod for Helen at Baftas
BRITISH film queen Helen Mirren thanked her former teacher after receiving the British Academy of Film and Television Arts' (Bafta's) highest accolade from Prince William at a glittering ceremony in London on Sunday.
Mirren, who has played Queen Elizabeth II on stage and film, fittingly received the Bafta Fellowship from the monarch's grandson, in honour of her 50-year career.
Dressed in a navy blue gown with chiffon sleeves, Mirren brought the ceremony to a close when she accepted the award, telling guests - including Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio - of the influence of recently deceased teacher Alys Welding.
She said Welding "alone was the person who encouraged me to be an actor" before quoting from William Shakespeare's The Tempest.
"We are such stuff as dreams are made on and our little life is rounded with a sleep," said the 68-year-old Oscar winner.
Recognising her previous roles as the Queen, Prince William called Mirren "an extremely talented British actress whom I should probably call granny" as he presented the award.
12 Years A Slave, the distressing tale of a man sold into slavery, was the big winner at the Baftas, giving the Steve McQueen-directed picture a huge pre-Oscars boost.
The film, adapted from Solomon Northup's 1853 memoir, took the coveted best film prize at the star-studded ceremony at the Royal Opera House.
It scored an earlier success when British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, who portrays free black man Northup as he is kidnapped and enslaved in the United States, walked away with the best actor prize.
Ejiofor said he was "so deeply honoured and privileged" to receive the award and praised McQueen.
"This is yours by the way, I know that, you know that," he told the director. "I'm going to keep it, but it's yours."
McQueen's work beat off competition from crime comedy American Hustle, pirate drama Captain Phillips, space sci-fi thriller Gravity and Philomena, the tale of an Irishwoman searching for her son, who was taken by nuns.
However, Philomena did win in the adapted screenplay category. Leading actor Steve Coogan praised the "real Philomena Lee", revealing that she was in the audience.
Rising star Jennifer Lawrence won the best supporting actress award for her role in American Hustle and Barkhad Abdi claimed the best supporting actor prize for his portrayal of a Somali pirate in Captain Phillips.
McQueen missed out on the best director award, which went to Mexican Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity.
Accepting his award, Cuaron said: "You cannot tell from my accent, but I consider myself a part of the British film industry".
The stellar adventure enjoyed a hugely successful evening, receiving six prizes.
Australian Cate Blanchett paid tribute to late colleague Philip Seymour Hoffman, calling him "a continual, profound touchstone", as she claimed her best actress award for her part in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine.
"Phil, buddy, this is for you, you bastard," she said. "I hope you're proud."
Hollywood stars, including Jolie and Pitt, rubbed shoulders with British royalty at the glitzy ceremony.
The star couple made an unexpected appearance on the red carpet in matching tuxedos and signed autographs for hordes of fans camped outside the venue.