Chiwetel Ejiofor to Be Honored at British Independent Film Awards

Associated Press
Chiwetel Ejiofor at the BAFTA Awards

He will receive the Richard Harris Award at the ceremony in London.

The Moet British Independent Film Awards said on Tuesday that Chiwetel Ejiofor will be honored with The Richard Harris Award at this year’s ceremony on Dec. 6 at Old Billingsgate in London.

The Richard Harris Award was introduced in 2002 in honor of Harris and recognizes outstanding contribution to British film by an actor. Previous winners include John Hurt, David Thewlis, Bob Hoskins, Jim Broadbent, Daniel Day-Lewis, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Julie Walters and Emma Thompson.

The award is bestowed upon Ejiofor "in recognition of his exceptional service to the film industry, not just here in the U.K. but internationally as an ambassador for British film," the organization said.

Jared Harris, son of Richard Harris, said: "I am so happy this award is going to Chiwetel. Although the recipients of this award have all been embraced by the establishment, they all came from outside it, fought their way in on the strength of their talent, claimed their place and changed the status quo. A journey which describes Chiwetel's career perfectly. His talent is immense, it has brought him deserved worldwide recognition, and he is in his prime! I hope this award inspires British filmmakers to take advantage of him and build films around his talent."

In 1996, Ejiofor caught the attention of Steven Spielberg, who cast him in Amistad opposite Morgan Freeman and Anthony Hopkins. In 2002, he was nominated for his first major award, the BIFA for Most Promising Newcomer and for Best Actor, which he won, for his performance in Stephen Frears’ thriller Dirty Pretty Things, the organizers said Tuesday.

Ejiofor has also been featured in such movies as Love Actually, Melinda and Melinda, Kinky Boots, Children of Men, 12 Years a Slave and The Martian. He is also in upcoming thriller Secret in Their Eyes with Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman, as well as heist crime thriller Triple Nine with Kate Winslet, Casey Affleck and Aaron Paul. He is currently shooting Marvel’s Doctor Strange with Benedict Cumberbatch and Tilda Swinton.

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