Page last updated at 10:33 GMT, Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Gilliam to get Bafta fellowship

Terry Gilliam on receiving the honour

Former Monty Python star Terry Gilliam will be given a Bafta Fellowship during Sunday's awards show, in recognition of his contribution to film.

The award is the most prestigious prize given out by the British Academy of Film and Television.

Gilliam, whose films include Time Bandits and 12 Monkeys told the BBC the announcement was "quite a surprise".

He added: "Awards and honours I've kind of shied away from, but this one I'm happy to take."

Bafta's Finola Dwyer described Gilliam as "one of the most original, imaginative and innovative directors working in the industry today".

Previous honourees include Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock and Steven Spielberg.

Asked how it felt to join their ranks, Gilliam said he could not believe his luck.

"I keep asking myself, why me? It was quite a surprise when they said we'll give you the Fellowship, as I don't expect these kinds of things. I just get on and do what I do," he said.

'Empty cinemas'

The Oscar-nominated star said despite his other work, he was still mostly remembered for his Monty Python animations and guest roles - including the simple jailer in Life Of Brian.

"I'm recognised more as a Python than I am a filmmaker I suppose. And it'll probably be the thing that goes on the grave stone."

However, he has also been lauded for his screenwriting on 1985 fantasy movie Brazil and directing films such as The Fisher King.

His often tortured productions have become notorious, with several abandoned or partly-finished films in his back catalogue.

When asked how he wants to be thought of as a filmmaker, he replied: "I hope I surprised a few people, made a few people laugh, shocked a few people, emptied a few cinemas."

Gilliam's latest big screen adventure, The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus, was actor Heath Ledger's final film.

After the star's untimely death last January, Colin Farrell, Johnny Depp and Jude Law stepped in to help complete the film.

The Bafta awards ceremony takes place at London's Royal Opera House this Sunday, 8 February.

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