Teenager wrests UK Best Actor crown from Gladiator

Teenager wrests UK Best Actor crown from Gladiator

A spike-haired teenager in his debut film wrestled the Best Actor crown from the hands of gladiator Russell Crowe on Sunday night at the Bafta awards, Britain's equivalent of the Oscars.

Jamie Bell got the nod for his performance in "Billy Elliot", in which he plays a miner's son who swaps boxing gloves for ballet shoes and pirouettes his way to the Royal Ballet School.

"I was kind of thinking about not bothering coming, I thought what's the point," said the 14-year-old, who was also up against Hollywood heavyweights Tom Hanks, Michael Douglas and Geoffrey Rush.

"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and "Gladiator" were the big winners at the glitzy ceremony in London's West End, each picking up four apiece, with "Billy Elliot" winning three.

"Gladiator", the year's blockbuster famous for digitally rebuilding the Roman Colosseum, snatched the title of Best Film and won awards for cinematography, editing and production design.

But Ridley Scott missed out on Best Director to Ang Lee, whose Mandarin-language film "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" attracted vast audiences around the globe.

"For a Chinese language film to get this far, I think it's phenomenal," Lee told reporters.

His martial arts epic also picked up Best Foreign Language Film and awards for music and costume.

Julia Roberts scooped the Best Actress crown for her performance in "Erin Brockovich" in which she plays an environmentalist who takes on a U.S. corporation. Julie Walters's portrayal of a ballet teacher in "Billy Elliot" won her Best Supporting Actress while Best Supporting Actor went to Benicio Del Toro for "Traffic".

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