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Johnny Depp shocks Sir Christopher Lee to present him with BFI Fellowship

Johnny Depp worked with Sir Christopher on Tim Burton film Sleepy Hollow. Picture: Clive Gee/PA Wire Johnny Depp worked with Sir Christopher on Tim Burton film Sleepy Hollow. Picture: Clive Gee/PA Wire

Sunday, October 20, 2013
3:48 PM

Johnny Depp surprised his friend Sir Christopher Lee when turned up last night to present the 91-year-old actor with his fellowship from the British Film Institute.

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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.

Lee, known for his appearances as Dracula and a string of other villains such as Bond baddie Scaramanga in The Man With The Golden Gun and Saruman in Lord Of The Rings, 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.

Presenting the award, Depp 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.

Actress Saoirse Ronan arriving for the BFI London Film Festival Awards last night. Picture: Yui Mok/PA WireActress Saoirse Ronan arriving for the BFI London Film Festival Awards last night. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire

“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.”

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.”

BBC newsreader Sophie Raworth at the awards. Picture: Yui Mok/PA WireBBC newsreader Sophie Raworth at the awards. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire

He went on: “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!”

The giant of British cinema spoke of how Depp was a “joy to work with”.

“Somebody told me Johnny wouldn’t be able to come tonight as he was somewhere else in Europe,” he said.

“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.”

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