Mike Leigh's BAFTA Outburst: "Rot In Hell!"


You can always rely on Mike Leigh to speak his mind.

And last night, the veteran director took aim at the short-sighted producers who had turned him down over the years during his acceptance speech for the prestigious BAFTA Fellowship award, telling them they could all ‘rot in hell’.

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To roars of approval from the audience at the Royal Opera House, the ‘Secrets & Lies’ helmsman, who always pitches his movies to producers without a script and often without actors attached, pulled no punches, referring to the ‘uninspired skinflints’ who have refused to back him.

“This is very nice indeed and I have never appeared on this stage before,” the 71-year-old said as he began his speech.

“How lucky we are to have been born in this magical age of cinema. It is glorious isn’t it?”

He appeared to take BAFTA largely snubbing his latest movie ‘Mr Turner’ - which despite Timothy Spall winning Best Actor at Cannes for the lead role and receiving rave reviews has been bizarrely neglected this awards season - in good spirits.


“I know some people expect me to be rude this evening. Well sorry folks you’re in for a disappointment,” he said.

“We got four nominations tonight, and you BAFTA are a democratic gang and your taste is your prerogative.

“What is important to me is that you have awarded me this fellowship for which I am truly grateful.

“For me this is a sign of your respect for an offbeat alternative, idiosyncratic personal kind of cinema. Pure independent cinema are the filmmakers of the future.

“I have made twenty full length films all starting without a script and none of them has ever been interfered with by anyone at any time.

“If that wasn’t the case I wouldn’t be standing here now. Thank you to everyone I have ever worked with, in front of and behind the camera.


Saving the best until last, he said that he was pleased that those who never backed him weren’t allowed to interfere with his films, saying that they would have made a ‘right pigs ear’ of them anyway.

“To those boneheads, philistines and uninspired skinflints who said no… thank you for keeping away and may you all rot in hell,” he added.

Leigh, who was given the award by Sally Hawkins and Imelda Staunton, joins the likes of Martin Scorsese, Alan Parker, Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin, Laurence Olivier, Dame Judi Dench, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Steven Spielberg in being given the BAFTA fellowship.

The full list of BAFTA winners are HERE.

Image credits: AP/Film4