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Clooney, Cumberbatch honored at BAFTA Britannia awards

Actor George Clooney attends the BAFTA Los Angeles Britannia Awards in Beverly Hills, California November 9, 2013. REUTERS/Phil McCarten
Actor George Clooney attends the BAFTA Los Angeles Britannia Awards in Beverly Hills, California November 9, 2013. REUTERS/Phil McCarten

By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - George Clooney, Benedict Cumberbatch and Sir Ben Kingsley led the winners at the annual Britannia awards, held by the Los Angeles arm of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts for those making an impact in Hollywood.

Clooney, 52, picked up the Britannia excellence in film award for his long body of work. Not one to shy away from the laughs, he took a jab at his own personal life, heavily scrutinized by fans and media.

"I rather famously don't have children - that I know of - but I do have a family of writers, actors and directors," he said when accepting his award.

Actor Cumberbatch was given a rousing introduction by his "12 Years a Slave" co-star Chiwetel Ejiofor, who said of the actor: "whether I've seen him on stage, TV or film, he is completely mesmerizing".

Cumberbatch, who stars in three fall films, "The Fifth Estate," "12 Years a Slave" and "August: Osage County," used his acceptance speech to praise people he has worked with.

Winners of the Britannia awards are chosen by members of the Los Angeles arm of the British film and TV academy. Past winners include Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Kate Winslet.

Welsh comedian Rob Brydon hosted the evening, keeping the audience entertained with impressions of British veteran actor Michael Caine and barbs about NSA spying.

Kingsley, who had A-listers including Jake Gyllenhaal, Caine, Spielberg, Bruce Willis and Robert Downey Jr. pay tribute to him in a video clip and Sigourney Weaver introducing him on stage, dedicated his Britannia award to young actors.

"My dear young actors, I know how difficult it can be being you ... may your craft remain undiminished, untarnished, bright and hard like a diamond," said the "Gandhi" star.

Other winners of the night included "Zero Dark Thirty" director Kathryn Bigelow, and Idris Elba, TV star of "The Wire" and "Luther", who received the humanitarian award for his work with The Prince's Trust charity, which helped him pursue his love of acting after growing up in a poor part of East London.

Elba, soon to be seen as Nelson Mandela in a biopic, was introduced by Sean Penn and Mandela's daughter Zindzi. She called Elba "a man who not only plays my father beautifully but who also shares a passion for the human spirit."

The big laughs of the night came from Sacha Baron Cohen, star of "Borat" and "The Dictator". Known for appearing in character and pulling comedic stunts at awards shows, he told Reuters on the red carpet that he had changed his ways.

"Those frivolous days are behind me, very childish. All that being funny and trying to amuse people, it's beneath me."

However, the actor, who won the Charlie Chaplin award for excellence in comedy, managed to pull a prank involving knocking an old lady out of a wheelchair and off the stage.

(Additional reporting by Phil Furey; Editing by Peter Graff)

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