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James Earl Jones 'Gobsmacked' by On-Stage Oscar

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It's not often that a West End stage plays host to an Oscar-giving ceremony, but that's exactly what happened on Saturday (12 November 2011) at Wyndham's Theatre, where Hollywood legend James Earl Jones was presented with an Honorary Academy Award following the matinee performance of Driving Miss Daisy.

His co-star Vanessa Redgrave asked the audience to remain seated following the performance, before Ben Kingsley – himself an Academy Award winner – walked onstage to present Jones with his gong.

Filmed footage of the presentation was then shown at the Governors Awards dinner in Los Angeles, where Oprah Winfrey and make-up artist Dick Smith also received honorary awards

Accepting the award, Jones said: "I am deeply honoured, mighty grateful and just plain gobsmacked. If an actor's nightmare is being on stage naked and not knowing your lines, what the heck do you call this? I have my clothes on, I know my words, and then out from the wings steps Sir Ben Kingsley and he hands me an Oscar! Frankly, what the heck else to call it but an actor's wet dream."

James Earl Jones' myriad film credits include Patriot Games and The Hunt for Red October, and he famously voiced Darth Vader in the Stars Wars series.

He's no stranger to the West End stage, having recently starred as Big Daddy in the all-African-American production of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which opened in December 2009 at the Novello Theatre following a New York run at the Broadhurst Theatre.

In Driving Miss Daisy he plays Hoke, a chauffeur who is hired by an elderly widowed Jewish woman deemed too old to drive by her son. Set against the backdrop of the mid-century civil rights struggle, what begins as a troubled and hostile pairing blossoms into a life-altering friendship.

The play, written by Alfred Uhry and directed by David Esbjornson, continues at Wyndham’s Theatre until 17 December 2011.


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