Daniel Day-Lewis channeled fellow Oscar winner Clint Eastwood at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Los Angeles' Britannia Awards on Wednesday - he addressed an empty chair as U.S. President Barack Obama.
Day-Lewis, 55, earned cheers for his stunt, which he made on stage while accepting the Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for Excellence in Film.
"Please excuse me if I'm a little bit groggy - I was up till probably 2 o'clock in the morning last night, watching CNN," the British actor said, then gesturing towards a wooden chair parked near him on the stage. "I think I developed a form of tinnitus and it sounds very much like [CNN presenter] Wolf Blitzer on a loop."
Day-Lewis was introduced on stage by Steven Spielberg, who directed him in the new movie "Lincoln," which is set for release on Friday, November 9. The actor plays the title character of the U.S. president who in 1865 famously pushed to pass the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which abolishes slavery.
The film is based on Dorothy Kearns Goodwin's 2005 book "Team of Rivals," a title that refers to how President Abraham Lincoln worked with his political opponents during the U.S. Civil War. Obama has often cited the book as one of his favorites and told reporters during a Florida stop during his 2008 campaign that Lincoln is one of his heroes.
The president won his second term on Tuesday and now faces the challenge of united a deeply divided America.
"But I have to say that I'm so extremely grateful and glad that taking time out of his busy schedule, that the recently re-elected president of this country was able to make it here tonight. Thank you," Day-Lewis said, gesturing towards the chair and clapping himself while the audience cheered.
"No, please, don't get up," he joked. "I know as an Englishman that it's absolutely none of my business but I'm just so very grateful that it was you."
Eastwood, an 82-year-old staunch Republican who won an Oscar for directing the 2004 film "Million Dollar Baby," made headlines in July when he spoke at the Republican National convention and talked to an empty chair, which was supposed to symbolize Obama (watch video).
"I love Clint Eastwood," Day-Lewis told the audience. "This is no satirical comment on him or his politics or anything else, but I have to say, when I saw him talking to a chair in front of a room full of strangers, I thought, 'I've got to try that.' That's a challenge. I didn't pull it off quite as well as him but anyhow, I've got some way to go."
Day-Lewis won Oscars for his roles in the 1989 movie "My Left Foot" and the 2007 film "There Will Be Blood" and is also known for films such as "Last of the Mohicans," "Gandhi" and "Gangs of New York." He made his on-screen debut as a teenager, playing a kid who keys cars in a scene in the 1971 controversial romantic drama movie "Sunday Bloody Sunday." "Lincoln" is the actor's 20th big-screen film.
Day-Lewis said during his speech that he has "been blessed with immeasurable good fortune" and paid tribute to his mother, Jill Balcon, who died at age 84 in 2009. His father, Cecil Day-Lewis, a writer also known by the pseudonym of Nicholas Blake, passed away at age 68 in 1972.
"I've never really publicly acknowledged the debt that I owe my mother who was - she loved me and she was very proud of everything that I did," Day-Lewis said about his mother.
"Without much evidence to base her faith on, she always had faith in me and most particularly, when I had very little faith in myself, she believed that I would do something in my life but I set out with a simple ambition, like most actors, which is to try and work. I wanted to work and in this game of 'Snakes and Ladders,' that's not something that you can dare to expect," he said, referring to the board game titled "Chutes and Ladders" in the United States.
"I've been incredibly lucky. I don't know why. But all I can say is that I'm quietly amazed by the whole thing and I thank you very much indeed for this," he said, then stepped off the podium and hugged Spielberg.
The award ceremony was hosted by "Good Wife" and theatre actor Alan Cumming and held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. The event will be broadcast on the cable channel BBC America on November 11 at 8 p.m. ET.
Others honored at the event included Quentin Tarantino, who received the John Schlesinger Britannia Award for Excellence in Directing, and "South Park" and "The Book of Mormon" creators and writers Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who received the Charlie Chaplin Britannia Award for Excellence in Comedy. Daniel Craig received the Britannia Award for British Artist of the Year.
The British actor is current star of the James Bond movies. The third and latest newest installment in his series, "Skyfall," is also set for release on Friday in the United States.
BAFTA Los Angeles' Britannia Awards also featured a performance from "American Idol" alum Jessica Sanchez. Proceeds from the gala are set to go to the organization's education, scholarship, community outreach and archival projects.