November 11, 2005

Film industry honors Cruise, Taylor

By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Anthony Hopkins mocked Tom Cruise's
boyish enthusiasm, and admitted that he had no idea what their
collaboration, "Mission: Impossible 2," was about, as Britain's
film industry honored the American actor, along with Elizabeth
Taylor in Beverly Hills on Thursday.

Also honored at the annual Britannia Awards hosted by the
Los Angeles branch of the British Academy of Film and
Television Arts were English directors Ronald Neame, famed for
"The Poseidon Adventure" and "Great Expectations," and Mike
Newell, the man behind the upcoming "Harry Potter and the
Goblet of Fire."

Hopkins bestowed the Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for
excellence in film on Cruise, having declared, "I don't
actually know Tom that well."

He recounted that when he turned up to the Australian shoot
of "Mission: Impossible 2," Cruise embraced him and lifted him
off the ground, and asked him about the nonexistent script
while eating an enormous club sandwich.

"I still don't know what the film was about because all I
remember is a whole lot of technical dialogue about a body in a
suitcase," Hopkins said.

But Hopkins praised Cruise as a pure Hollywood star in the
mold of icons like James Cagney, Paul Newman and Gregory Peck.

"Everyone today is so laid-back and cool and it's kinda
boring, but Tom is the opposite of that," Hopkins said.

Despite such a set-up, Cruise played it straight as he
accepted the award. He paid a lengthy tribute to Kubrick, who
died in 1999 just after finishing work on "Eyes Wide Shut," in
which Cruise and then-wife Nicole Kidman starred, and said the
award was "a recognition of the magnificent power that films
possess to effect positive change in the world."

Taylor, 73, making a second rare appearance in five days,
cracked jokes as she received the Britannia Award for artistic
excellence in international entertainment.

From her wheelchair, to which she is confined because of
severe back problems, she admitted that it had been a long time
since she considered herself a "serious actress," and that one
of the proudest moments of her life was being able to help
shift the spotlight to AIDS awareness.

But before things could get too maudlin, she requested a
handkerchief -- preferably lace -- and said she loved her
English royal title of Dame, since "I've been a broad all my

After Taylor pointed out that two-time husband Richard
Burton never received an Academy Award despite being nominated
seven times and that something should be done about it, New Age
actress Shirley MacLaine, who introduced her, said, "I'll talk
to him tonight."

Neame, clocking in at a sprightly 94, attributed his
longevity to "a very large vodka at lunchtime, and two very
large scotches in the evening ... sometimes three very large