Star Wars cast members were out in force on Sunday for this year’s Jameson Empire Awards, where Star Wars: The Force Awakens, is nominated for nine awards.
Hosted by Britain’s Got Talent Judge David Walliams, the 21st annual awards ceremony welcomed stars including Matt Damon, Andy Serkis, Anthony Daniels, Maisie Williams and rising stars Daisy Ridley and John Boyega.
Arriving on the red carpet, Ridley, 23, nominated for best female newcomer for her portrayal as Rey in the latest Star Wars instalment, stopped to pose for photographs wearing a dark navy gown and sequin encrusted heels.
Joining her was co-star Serkis, who stars as the villain Supreme Leader Snoke, yet another ominous CGI character to be played by the actor.
Praising the vision of director J.J. Abrams, Serkis said the success of the new Star Wars trilogy rested on “bringing back the authenticity of the original films”.
“It’s about character, and not worlds that have lots of character but no real heart to them, so that was his main ambition, to really engage with the characters.
“Looking back to when I first started off in theatre, what I really enjoyed was engaging with the audience, and it’s great to see that audience getting bigger in the work I’ve been doing.
“It’s been great to work with very skilled story-tellers and directors, and now taking that on myself, you realise it’s such a big responsibility.”
Asked if his character, Snoke, would be play an increasingly sinister role in Star Wars episode eight, Serkis added that “much more was to come”.
Anthony Daniels, who is the 40-year veteran actor behind the golden shell of C3PO, one of Star Wars most fabled characters, said it had been “absolutely wonderful” to see the saga brought back to life by director Abrams.
“It’s been great fun, I’ve been filming today and I’m filming again tomorrow, but tonight I’m having a party, because the Empire awards are great fun,” he said.
“It’s great to be back in these films again, and it brought such joy to see The Force Awakens bring so much entertainment around the world.
“What a gift I was given meeting George 40 years ago. Eventually we agreed to work together, and 40 years on, hear I am, still having more and more fun.
“The great thing about working on episode eight is that all the crew were fans from being children, so everyone is thrilled to be there – including me.”
Away from galactic blockbusters, Downton Abbey’s Laura Carmichael said she missed the cast of the award-winning ITV show, adding that she still kept in touch with her co-stars.
Asked if fans could expect the much anticipated release of a Downton film, the actress said “everyone is waiting to see if Julian (Fellowes) would be willing to write it.
“I hope he will, I think he wants to, so we will just have to wait and see,” she added.
Speaking before the event, Terry White, editor in chief of Empire magazine, said this year’s award’s were the “biggest yet”.
“We’re set for a great night. We are the only awards ceremony voted for by the fans. Obviously the other awards have great bodies behind them, and academies and industries.
“But what we’re really excited about is the fans, they’re the ones that are spending their money, they’re the ones that are sitting in those cinema seats.
“So we want to know what their favourite movies were, who gave the best performances, they’re the people that really matter to us.”