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'The King's Speech' honored at Santa Barbara fest

The Associated Press, Tuesday, February 1, 2011, 5:03am (PST)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) -- At this rate, they'll have enough awards to fill Buckingham Palace.

The stars of "The King's Speech," about England's King George VI and his efforts to triumph over a serious speech impediment, traveled some 90 miles north of Los Angeles on Monday to accept the Santa Barbara International Film Festival's ensemble award. Co-star Geoffrey Rush was honored with the Montecito Award for career achievement.

Rush, who plays the monarch's wily therapist, said that of all the premieres and awards of the last five months, nothing has topped the movie's first public showing in early September at the Telluride Film Festival.

"They were applauding lines of dialogue and I said to them at the end, when we had a Q and A, 'You made us feel like we were in a Noel Coward play,'" Rush said. "So that sort of visceral response has been like being in the theater. You just go, 'Wow.'"

On Sunday, lead performer Colin Firth, who plays Queen Elizabeth II's stuttering dad, won a Screen Actors Guild Award. "The King's Speech" also won the SAG Award for overall acting ensemble. A day earlier, the movie was an upset winner at the Directors Guild of America Awards, where its filmmaker Tom Hooper triumphed over David Fincher, who had been considered the favorite for "The Social Network."

"When (`The Hurt Locker' director) Kathryn Bigelow read my name out, my body literally started to shake," Hooper recalled. "I mean, it was vibrating from head to toe. I've never physically experienced anything like it in my life. I was kind of like, literally, `What's happening to me?' I was in such a state of utterly blissful shock."

Firth almost didn't make it onstage to join his co-stars in accepting the SAG Award for cast of a motion picture. He'd just accepted the best-actor trophy and was backstage. "You couldn't hear it properly from where I was standing," Firth said. "And it was the stage manager that said, 'You have to go back out, because your movie just won.'"

Many award-season pundits say "The King's Speech" is now the front-runner for best picture at the Oscars.

"I actually finished an interview with the BBC on the radio the other day where I was told by the presenter that we're carrying the hopes of a nation — that's a bit much to sort away," said Gareth Unwin, one of the producers of "The King's Speech."

Hooper, an Oscar nominee for directing, said he's hoping to make the Academy Awards a family affair.

"I'm trying to get tickets for my mum, my dad, my brother and my sister, but (it hasn't) worked," he said. "They won't tell us whether they've got space. So my main Oscar campaign at the moment is getting them all tickets."

Firth, Rush and co-star Helena Bonham Carter have been nominated for Oscars for their performances in "The King's Speech."

"Ultimately, what's the biggest reward and the most important reward is that people are going to see the film," she said. "And that's what the best thing is: We're connecting to people that don't vote for awards."

The Feb. 27 Oscar ceremony will be televised live on ABC from Hollywood's Kodak Theatre.

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Online:

http://sbiff.org/

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