Jennifer Lawrence came under fire from BAFTA viewers just as the ceremony got underway Sunday night, with numerous social media users criticizing the actress for a comment she made to host Joanna Lumley.
Lumley — hosting the British film awards show for the first time — kicked off the show by introducing Lawrence as the night’s first presenter.
“Who better to kick the whole evening off than the hottest actress on the planet? Soon to be seen in Red Sparrow, it’s the ravishing Jennifer Lawrence!” Lumley said with enthusiasm as Lawrence strode onstage to present the award for Outstanding British Film.
But before she presented the award, Lawrence said in a quick aside to Lumley: “That was a bit much, but thank you, Joanna.”
Those watching the awards show quickly took to social media to criticize Lawrence over the comment, which some felt was overly rude to the host.
“Jennifer Lawrence was unnecessarily rude wasn’t she?” one Twitter user wrote. “Don’t think there was any need for that reply to Joanna Lumley.”
“Jennifer Lawrence is not welcome in the U.K. if she thinks its ok to disrespect Joanna Lumley,” wrote another.
Still, others defended the 27-year-old mother! star, explaining that she hadn’t intended the comment to be a slight toward Lumley.
“I’m not a huge fan but I totally got what she meant, even if her tone may have seemed a bit off,” one user wrote.
Lawrence responded to the controversy in an interview Monday, saying the comment had been an “inside joke.”
“Okay so backstage Joanna and I were both about to go out… and I was like, ‘Just [say] adjective after adjective, ‘tall’, ‘beautiful’, just say that I’m this and that. And she was like, ‘Alright darling,'” Lawrence told Magic Radio’s Ronan Keating.
“It was an inside joke. She went on and said all these really nice things about me and when I got up to the podium, I was like, ‘That was a bit much,’ after I spent all of backstage telling her how to be really nice to me,” she explained. “Then everybody thought that I was being rude. But to be fair, I couldn’t have just walked out after she [described me as] ‘the biggest movie star in the world’ and gone ‘thank you, Joanna.’ That would have been like, ‘So you agree, you think you’re really pretty.'”
The BAFTA for Outstanding British Film went to Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, from filmmaker Martin McDonagh.
See the full list of BAFTA winners here.
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum