Bruce Dern to replace Emma Thompson at SBIFF

Emma Thompson fans looking forward to seeing the star on the red carpet or hearing her talk about her career next week at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival found themselves disappointed late Monday when the festival announced that the star had canceled her scheduled appearance.

Ms. Thompson was due to receive the Modern Master Award on Feb. 8, but, according to a festival release, she “is required for rehearsal in London on the New York Philharmonic staging of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd.”

Bruce Dern, a Best Actor nominee for his role in the black and white comedy-drama “Nebraska,” will instead receive the festival’s highest award.

Past recipients of the award include Ben Affleck, Christopher Nolan, Michael Douglas, Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Diane Keaton, Sean Penn, Jeff Bridges, Peter Jackson, George Clooney, Will Smith, Cate Blanchett, Clint Eastwood, Christopher Plummer and James Cameron.

Mr. Dern has long been Hollywood’s underdog leading man, making films such as “Marnie” and “Family Plot,” “They Shoot Horses Don’t They?” “Drive, He Said” “The King of Marvin Gardens” and “Silent Running.”

For “Coming Home,” Hal Ashby’s 1979 drama, Mr. Dern was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, his only nomination until this year.

Mr. Dern, 77, was a recurring character in the HBO series “Big Love,” and played a minor but important role in “Django Unchained” in 2012.

But it was Alexander Payne who really turned Mr. Dern’s career around with “Nebraska” and the taciturn role of Woody Grant. It was a role, Mr. Dern has said in interviews, that he waited many years to play, but knew he had to do it.

The scheduling upset for the Modern Master Award is the second in a row for the festival. Last year Leonardo DiCaprio canceled and was replaced by Quentin Tarantino.

Meanwhile, the SBIFF also announced the panelists for the first weekend’s industry panels at the Lobero.

The “Movers and Shakers” panel, which celebrates Hollywood producers, features Albert Berger (“Nebraska”), Robbie Brenner (“Dallas Buyers Club”), Dana Brunetti (“Captain Phillips”), Dede Gardner (“12 Years a Slave”), Joey McFarland (“Wolf of Wall Street”) Charles Roven (“American Hustle”), Gaby Tana (“Philomena”) and Ron Yerxa (“Nebraska”).

The “Women in the Biz” panel features Kristine Belson (“The Croods”), Dede Gardner (“12 Years a Slave”), Lauren MacMullen (“Get a Horse”), Rachel Winter (“Dallas Buyers Club”) and Sara Woodhatch (“Before Midnight”).

For information about all Film Festival events, visit sbiff.org.

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