05/12/2011 14:31 GMT | Updated 04/02/2012 10:12 GMT

Ralph Fiennes Choked And 'Chuffed' To Receive Richard Harris Prize At British Independent Film Awards

Ralph Fiennes was visibly choked up last night, being presented with the Richard Harris Award for outstanding contribution at the Moet British Independent Film Awards (BIFAs) in London.

Fiennes could only describe himself afterwards as in words sounding a bit street-talk from this well-versed thespian. After hunting for the bon mot to express his feelings, he finally settled on... "well-chuffed".

He eventually expanded thus: "Because Richard Harris was such an extraordinary beacon force as an actor, to have an award given by his family means a great deal. And the other recipients have been great actors who have inspired me, so I'm... yes, well chuffed."

Fiennes lost out on the award for debut director (to Paddy Considine for Tyrannosaur), for his work on Coriolanus, a film he also starred in - a double challenge he appears to have had second thoughts about:

"I knew I'd set myself a crazy task. It was probably a slightly silly thing to do, to take it on, but I felt very strongly that I wanted to. And I loved the collaborative nature of working with the team, costume designers, everyone - and course the actors."

Key to Fiennes' vision of bringing Coriolanus to the screen was his co-star Vanessa Redgrave, someone Fiennes said 'has always moved me hugely both as an actor and as a woman".

He went on admiringly: "I knew as soon as I had a script in my hand, I wanted Vanessa. She brings so many levels to any part... and she brought a quality of intimacy to this part, which floored me."


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Why, out of all the projects he could have chosen for his debut directing job, did Fiennes settle on a revisiting of Coriolanus?

"There are so many things in it pertinent to now," he explained. "You have the power play of politics, economics, civic unrest, a destabilised country, continual warfare so, with all these things... the world of Coriolanus is the world we're living in - it's almost a parable for today, but at the centre is this mother-son relationship, which has always moved me since the first time I saw it."

The cream of British screen were all there last night - check out our Slideshow of the great and good at the Moet British Independent Film Awards...

British Independent Film Awards