Hurt: Wife advised against speech
John Hurt was honoured with a special award at the star-studded Bafta film awards ceremony, and revealed that his wife had advised him against giving a prepared acceptance speech.
Billy Bob Thornton presented him with the award for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema and called him an "actor's actor".
Receiving a standing ovation from the audience, he added: "Who would have thought all those years ago that I would have been sharing the stage of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, with Billy Bob Thornton? How fabulous."
Hurt, whose career has seen him star in films including Midnight Express and The Elephant Man, revealed his wife had advised him to bin the speech he had prepared because when he gives speeches he sounds "like somebody else".
The Artist's Jean Dujardin admitted he was surprised to get an award in the country of "Laurence Olivier, William Webb Ellis and Benny Hill".
Michel Hazanavicius said he was "happy and touched" to be named Best Director and joked: "Thank you again, I'm so proud that Brad Pitt pronounced my name so well."
Meryl Streep, who picked up the Leading Actress prize for her role as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, paid tribute to her ancestors who were - like Lady Thatcher herself - originally from Lincolnshire. She said: "Half of me is Streep and the other half is Wilkinson from Lincolnshire so I come by it honestly, this part."
Adam Deacon welcomed his Orange Wednesdays Rising Star Award and said the honour was "surreal", adding: "It's not just a win for me, it's a win for the underdog."
Supporting Actress gong winner Octavia Spencer, whose co-star Jessica Chastain was also nominated for the award, said the win was "a surprise".
She said: "It has been said The Help is an American movie about American problems and American history and I am so grateful to you for seeing past that."