Samantha Morton to be honoured at British Independent Film Awards

Samantha Morton is to be given an outstanding contribution honour at this year’s British Independent Film Awards (Bifa).

The actress, who recently starred in The Serpent Queen and is also known for Minority Report and Harlots, is the 2022 recipient of the Richard Harris Award.

Riz Ahmed, Dame Judi Dench, Sir Daniel Day-Lewis, Helena Bonham Carter, Sir John Hurt, Dame Emma Thompson and Jim Broadbent are all previous recipients of the award.

It was named in honour of Irish actor Richard Harris, who played Albus Dumbledore in the first two Harry Potter films before Michael Gambon took over the role when Harris died in 2002 at the age of 72.

Morton has twice been nominated for an Oscar – for 1999 film Sweet And Lowdown and 2003’s In America.

The 45-year-old, whose recent film work includes Save The Cinema, She Said, and The Whale, said she is “moved beyond words” at being given the Richard Harris Award and that it means “the world” to her.

She added: “Independent cinema is my true home, the reason for my art, and Richard Harris was my first teacher.

“It is a great privilege to join such an esteemed group of former honourees, each of them champions of the British screen, and to be able to continue shining a light on the immense wealth and diversity of talented film-makers and artists we have on these islands.”

Morton first started acting in Nottingham’s Central Junior Television Workshop at the age of 13 before landing a role in TV’s Soldier Soldier in 1991.

She then starred in period dramas Emma in 1996 Emma and Jane Eyre in 1997, and got her first Bifa nomination – best actress – for Under The Skin in 1998 before being nominated a further eight times.

In 2002, she won a best actress Bifa for psychological drama Morvern Callar.

British Independent Film Awards 2021 – London
Riz Ahmed won the Richard Harris Award at the 24th British Independent Film Awards ceremony in 2021 (Ian West/PA)

Damian, Jared and Jamie Harris, sons of the late actor who was perhaps best known for 1967’s Camelot, said: “Morton seemed to arrive like a meteor – her performances in Under The Skin, Sweet And Lowdown, Jesus’ Son, and Morvern Callar impacted not only British cinema.

“After having worked with Samantha on This Is The Sea, Richard was as impressed with her work as I had ever seen him. He told me ‘If you ever get the opportunity to work with her, grab it. She is the real effing deal’.”

Morton also directed and co-wrote TV film drama The Unloved, based on her first-hand experience of the British care system, which won a best single drama award at the Baftas in 2010.

She is currently filming the lead role in new television drama The Burning Girls, based on the thriller novel by CJ Tudor.

– The Bifa 2022 ceremony will take place at Old Billingsgate in the City of London on December 4, marking the awards’ 25th anniversary.