Glenn O’Brien, a former member of Andy Warhol’s Factory and the first editor-in-chief of Interview magazine, which featured Everett on its cover when he was a teenager, acted as laudator. O’Brien said: “(Everett) redefined what it is to be a leading man. Part of that is he proved that you don’t need to be straight to be emotionally unavailable, and that it is important to do the roles that formulate your idea of yourself and do them in your own way.”
After he received his award, Everett said: “I feel terribly proud to be here tonight, but also I feel very unworthy, because even though in some ways one deserves an award just for surviving 35 years in show business, I really don’t feel I’ve done enough yet to merit this fantastic award. However, as Elizabeth Taylor once said, ‘I haven’t finished with you yet.”
Everett explained that he is preparing to direct his first film, “The Happy Prince,” about the final years of Oscar Wilde, for which he wrote the screenplay and takes the leading role. Shooting will take place just outside Munich next year, and much of the initial funding for the film has come from Germany. “This funding has been the foundation upon which I have slowly managed to build a European co-production,” he said.
“Like most people in the U.K., I am passionate about Europe…,” he added, to loud laughter and applause from the audience, as the U.K. government is in the process of trying to dilute its commitment to the European Union. “And I feel I can create a truly European film. My movie stars actors from the U.K., France, Italy and Germany. It speaks naturally in four languages, and is about a character whose life and death were one of the great punctuation points between the 19th and the 20th centuries. So I hope that when it comes out I will finally merit the award you have given me tonight.”
The ceremony was followed by the German premiere of his latest film “A Royal Night Out,” in which he plays King George VI, father of Elizabeth II. Directed by Julian Jarrold, who was at the screening, the film tells the story of an adventurous night in 1945. As Britain celebrates the end of World War II, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret seize their chance to escape Buckingham Palace for one night.
Earlier this week, director Jean-Jacques Annaud was also honored with a CineMerit Award. His Chinese-set film “Wolf Totem” screens at the festival. At an exclusive dinner for Everett on Wednesday, Annaud told Variety that shooting the film in China, where he lived for four years, had been a very positive experience, with almost no interference from the state bodies, and that he had made the film that he wanted to make. He is now considering making another film in the country.