The creme de la creme of the British film industry including Jude Law and Emma Thompson have arrived on the red carpet ahead of tonight's (15FEB04) ORANGE BRITISH ACADEMY FILM AWARDS in London.

Natives Bill Nighy, Paul Bettany, Naomi Watts, Anthony Minghella, SIR IAN McKELLAN posed for snappers alongside American stars Scarlett Johansson, SOFIA COPPOLA, Tim Burton, Alicia Silverstone, Holly Hunter and Renee Zellweger outside the ODEON LEICESTER SQUARE.

Newcomer Johansson is up twice in the Best Actress In A Leading Role for her performance in Girl with a Pearl Earring and Lost In Translation.

Johansson says, "It's an incredible honour to be nominated once - twice is just a dream come true."

Londoner Law is up for Best Actor In A Leading role for Cold Mountain and admits he isn't too bothered about winning.

He says, "The Baftas are a great celebration. I feel more relaxed being at home and it's a real boost for the British film industry.

"To win would be wonderful - but the nomination is everything."

New Zealand movie-maker Peter Jackson arrived with over 60 people from the cast and crew of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy in the hope of winning some BAFTAS in the 13 categories they have been nominated in for RETURN OF THE KING.

Jackson enthuses, "I'm just as curious as anyone else to see what happens with the awards."

The stars and director of the JRR TOLKIEN trilogy were greeted by huge cheers as thousands of fans of the epic films crowded Leicester Square.

McKellan, who plays the wizard GANDALF in the three movies, says, "He (Jackson) was touched by the huge number of Lord of the Rings fans who have turned up tonight. I'm sorry I can't go and spend more time with them. There are so many of them here, and that's the phenomenon of this film."

Surprise guest of the evening was Best Actor nominee Johnny Depp, who despite BAFTA bosses expecting his absence, caused a huge scream from the female members of the crowd when he appeared on the red carpet.

19/02/2004 02:33