Benedict Cumberbatch was honoured with the Variety Award at the 2014 British Independent Film Awards on Sunday night for his part in helping to “focus the international spotlight on the UK”. Meanwhile, his Sherlock co-star Andrew Scott was named best supporting actor, beating off competition from Michael Fassbender, Rafe Spall and Sean Harris, thanks to his performance in British Thatcher-era drama Pride, which also picked up best British film and the best supporting actress gong for Imelda Staunton.
Accepting The Variety Award, Cumberbatch said “My god, I don’t think I’ve ever been more nervous in my life,” after first giving thanks to the many and varied staff who help take independent British films from script to screen – as well as to his parents and new fiancé Sophie Hunter.
It’s a longish speech but a heartfelt one and no-one has yet complained about us sharing too many of Cumberbatch’s words, so here goes…
“Oh holy crap. Thank you so much, it’s a very strange experience to be in your own audience. It’s a ridiculous honour to be here, not least because of the output and the standard of previous recipients. I feel this is a very premature way to acknowledge mine, but it will inspire me to work harder to feel like I deserve it, and that won’t really be difficult because I love my job. I love my industry, I love the people I get to work with, a lot of whom are in this room, I love the communities and the families that each job brings together, and I love how proud we can all be in taking stock of moments like this, and how proud we can be as filmmakers in the UK who in spite, or maybe because of not having a studio system, is a world leader.
“And it’s not just the people in this room we should be celebrating, it’s the armies of craftsmen who are the envy of the world and keep the world coming back for more business here. Chippies, electricians, riggers, drivers, security men, location scouts and managers, costume assistants, runners and camera and sound crews, casting directors, a few of whom are here tonight, and thank you very much for my career, costume assistants… I’ve said that already, but they really are amazing, they do the worst hours of any of us and do deserve a shout out, even if it’s twice, in the same speech… yes, and even our caterers deserve a shout out.
“So no matter how lonely or scared or ‘independent’ I feel standing up here, there are legions of people who supported me to a point where I can just get up in the morning and do my job.
“My home team: my mother and father and my fiancé Sophie. This belongs to all of you. Making you proud is a wonderful engine to do what I do.”
“My god, I don’t think I’ve ever been more nervous in my life. [No one wrote his speech] this is all my own mumbling outpourings.
“All of us as freelance artists and filmmakers crave autonomy, and to be indepdennt and free from outside controls, anything that makes us depedent on politics or money or an outside authority. For me some of the most exciting moments in cinema are always when the odds are against you and authenticity is still achieved, the work triumphs in a spirit of indepdnece.I’m thrilled to have had my success in some of the goliaths of the film industry, and I’m very happy with some of what you’ve seen tonight, but I owe coming into that sphere to the Davids of this world…in that overstretched analogy.
“Congratulations to everyone here, and happy Christmas.”
Calvary star Brendan Gleeson beat Cumberbatch to the best actor award, while Gugu Mbatha-Raw was named best actress for her performance in the title role in period drama Belle, ahead of Cumberbatch’s Imitation Game co-star Keira Knightley and Catch Me Daddy’s Sameena Jabeen Ahmed. Yann Demange took home best director for ’71, the drama about a British solider trapped in Belfast during the Troubles.
Sign up to the Radio Times newsletter for the latest TV and entertainment news