Jane Fonda may have just given the greatest acceptance speech of all time.
Fonda was set to accept the Stanley Kubrick award for excellence in film during BAFTA LA’s annual celebration on Friday night at the Beverly Hilton, but since the actor had been arrested earlier in the day while protesting for climate change awareness in Washington, D.C., it was clear she’d no longer attend. But what the audience did not expect was the taped acceptance speech from Fonda that played for the crowd.
“I’m so honored. I can’t even believe it. I’m so grateful. It’s thrilling and I’m sorry I’m not there, but as you may have heard, I’ve been getting arrested,” Fonda said in the message that played onscreen in the ballroom. “I decided I need to do more about climate change. And so I moved to DC for four months, trying to heighten the sense of urgency that there needs to be.”
The speech then cut to footage of Fonda protesting on Capitol Hill, with the actor adding, “This is a crisis; not just here but all over the world.”
Then, the intent of the video message quickly became clear, showing Fonda with her wrists held together with zip-tied handcuffs, yelling to the camera while being arrested with her fellow demonstrators: “Thank you BAFTA. BAFTA, thank you for the Stanley Kubrick award for excellence in film. I’m sorry I’m not there, I’m very honored.”
Fonda’s surprise speech received rousing support from the crowd, with loud cheers and a standing ovation for the activist.
Steve Coogan accepted the Charlie Chaplin award for excellence in comedy from his “Stan & Ollie” co-star John C. Reilly. Kerry Washington presented Norman Lear with the Britannia Award for excellence in television, praising the 97-year-old creator for being such a “powerful force” in the industry with his groundbreaking programs like “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons.”
“I love being here,” Lear told the crowd, giving him a standing ovation when he took the stage. “I don’t know what to say about this evening, but as rich and wonderful as life has been for me, this is an evening that tops all other evenings.”
British artist of the year honoree Phoebe Waller-Bridge accepted her award from her “Solo: A Star Wars Story” co-star Donald Glover, who admitted that he binge-watched the entire first season of “Fleabag” after meeting Waller-Bridge at an Emmys party and was immediately floored by the show, encouraging his own writing staff to watch it.
“It just hasn’t hit me until now, what an amazing person I am,” Waller-Bridge cracked, adding, “This has been the most extraordinary year of my life and, as you’ve seen, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with geniuses and I have so many to thank for it, but I’m going to roll them all up into one and thank [longtime story producer Jenny Robins] who’s been with me every step of the way behind the scenes.”
Presenter Lupita Nyong’o saluted her “Us” director Jordan Peele for the way he makes audiences laugh and think with his films; and onstage, Peele demonstrated that rare talent, mixing in a bit of humor in his acceptance speech, joking that he was receiving the prestigious John Schlesinger award after only making two films. “Winning this after only two films says that clearly someone’s not putting enough thought into this. I could still very much f— this up. What if my next film is bulls—t? What if i made a movie that John Schlesinger would hate? I’ve already got the Schles!”
But getting serious about the impact he’s made with those first two films, “Get Out” and “Us,” Peele added, “[Horror is] a genre that doesn’t get this type of recognition often enough…It’s great to see it flourishing at this moment because we really need it. I’m a real believer that we need to face our nightmares and it’s best we do it together in a theater, where we can laugh, cry and scream and all that s—t.”
When Vin Diesel took the stage to celebrate Jackie Chan, he shared a surprising story about his friendship with the legendary martial artist and action star. “I was up late last night doing karaoke with Jackie Chan,” Diesel said. “We were watching a movie, ‘Guys and Dolls,’ and Jackie said I should play Sky Masterson and he should play Nathan Detroit.”
Of receiving the Albert R. Broccoli award for worldwide contribution to entertainment for his 59-year career, Chan explained his goals as an entertainer. “When I make movies there’s a good message — this is love. Love your country, love your people, love your family, keep love all over the world.”