The award, which was introduced in 2002, has previously gone to John Hurt, Daniel Day-Lewis, Ralph Fiennes and Michael Gambon, among others.
Thompson, who is the only person to have received an Academy Award for both acting and screenwriting, commented: “It is a very special award, in name of an incredible actor who inspired so many people during his career. I am honored to follow in the footsteps of my peers who have received this award before me.”
Thompson’s portrayal of Margaret Schlegel in the Merchant Ivory adaptation of E.M. Forster’s “Howards End” in 1992 netted her a BAFTA Award, Los Angeles Film Critics Award, New York Film Critics Award, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award. She earned two Oscar nominations the following year for her work in “The Remains of the Day” and “In the Name of the Father.”
In 1995, her adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility,” directed by Ang Lee, won the Academy Award for adapted screenplay as well as the Golden Globe for screenplay and screenplay awards from the Writers Guild of America, among others. For her performance in the film she was honored with an actress award from BAFTA, and nominated for a Golden Globe and an Academy Award.
Her performance in Richard Curtis’ “Love Actually” earned Thompson an actress in a supporting role nomination at the BAFTAs. In 2013, Thompson’s portrayal of author P.L. Travers in “Saving Mr. Banks” earned her both the National Board of Review actress award, along with Golden Globe, Broadcast Film Critics, SAG and BAFTA nominations.
Thompson completed filming this summer in Scotland on “The Long Midnight of Barney Thomson,” opposite Robert Carlyle and Ray Winstone, and on director Ken Kwapis’ “A Walk in the Woods,” opposite Robert Redford and Nick Nolte. She is also part of Jason Reitman’s “Men, Women and Children” as well as the upcoming “Adam Jones,” starring Bradley Cooper.
Thompson’s feature film debut came in 1988, starring opposite Jeff Goldblum in the comedy “The Tall Guy.” Her other film credits include “Stranger Than Fiction,” “Last Chance Harvey,” “Nanny McPhee,” “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” and “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.”
As previously announced, Benedict Cumberbatch will receive the Variety Award at this year’s BIFAs.
As well as Moet & Chandon, the awards are supported by Variety, alongside 3 Mills Studios, BBC Films, M.A.C Cosmetics, Movado, Raindance, St Martins Lane, Soho House, Swarovski, AllCity and Intermission.