Double honours for Irish actors as Fassbender and Branagh scoop top awards
MICHAEL Fassbender and Kenneth Branagh were the toast of the film industry last night at a ceremony in London.
Fassbender won the Best Actor award for his role in Steve McQueen's Shame, co-starring Carey Mulligan and Belfast born Kenneth Branagh Branagh said it was "thrilling" to be honoured at the British Independent Film Awards (BIFAs).
The Belfast born actor and director received The Variety Award at the glamorous awards ceremony attended by stars including Vanessa Redgrave, Hayley Atwell and Gemma Arterton.
Branagh said: "It is very exciting and thrilling.
"It is very nice to have a prize that has the words 'variety' and 'independence' attached to it because it is what I like to pursue in my work and to be in an atmosphere that people say is the Christmas party for the film industry."
Fassbender also worked with director McQueen on his breakthrough film Hunger playing Bobby Sands.
He said of director McQueen: "I love the man. He is great.
"We seem to have a pretty good shorthand when we're on set.
"The passion he arouses in all members of the crew, on camera and behind it, that is the really inspiring thing to be around."
Branagh, 50, quickly accepted his award at the beginning of the ceremony so that he could dash off to catch a plane to Sweden to continue filming the third series of Wallander on Monday.
He said: "I'm being attacked by a dog tomorrow morning."
Looking back over his film career he revealed he remembered fondly his "Harry Potter experience", after playing Professor Gilderoy Lockhart in the franchise.
He added: "I've just done a film, My Week With Marilyn, with Emma Watson, who was this size when I first worked with her, and to see her maturing, and Dan [Daniel Radcliffe] and everyone, that's exacting."
The Belfast-born actor and director revealed he was most proud of his big screen adaptation of Hamlet, which he directed and starred in, alongside Kate Winslet as Ophelia.
He said: "We shot it on 70 mm and we had such a huge international cast and it was such a personal passion project."
Harry Potter star Ralph Fiennes was also honoured for his outstanding contribution to British film with the Richard Harris award, named after the legendary actor and hellraiser from Limerick.