''Gladiator'' director Ridley Scott gets knighted -- The ''Black Hawk Down'' filmmaker is one of several artists dubbed with New Years honors by Queen Elizabeth

By Gary Susman
Updated December 31, 2002 at 05:00 AM EST

Call him Sir Ridley. That’s the title he’ll enjoy next year, courtesy of Queen Elizabeth, who awarded the ”Gladiator” director with a knighthood, as one of several artists and notable Brits she has cited for honors in a New Years’ list released Tuesday. The 65-year-old director, whose résumé includes such films as ”Alien,” ”Blade Runner,” ”Thelma & Louise,” and ”Black Hawk Down,” will be named a Knights Bachelor for his services to the British film industry.

”As a boy growing up in South Shields, I could never have imagined that I would receive such a special recognition. I am extremely honoured to be awarded a knighthood,” he told the UK Press Association. ”I am truly humbled to receive this treasured award and believe it also further recognises the excellence of the British film industry,” said the three-time Oscar nominee.

In March, Scott explained to Entertainment Weekly the late-career burst of energy that has resulted in three $100 million blockbusters (”Gladiator,” ”Hannibal,” and ”Black Hawk”) in the last three years, saying he simply decided ”why not” be busier? ”I’m on a ‘why not?’ kick. I have been developing a subject that I’ve wanted to do for years: the Crusades. That will be next year [after making the North African epic ‘Tripoli’]. And you can’t d— around with that subject. But secretly, for the first time in a few years, I’m going to take a holiday.”

Other honors this season include a knighthood for actor Alan Bates (”The Sum of All Fears,” ”Women in Love”) and Order of the British Empire (OBE) citations for screen legend Jean Simmons (”Spartacus,” Laurence Olivier’s 1948 ”Hamlet), Brenda Blethyn (”Secrets & Lies”), and Edward Fox (”The Day of the Jackal”).

All but Simmons are currently on screen in year-end movies: Bates opposite Pierce Brosnan in ”Evelyn,” Blethyn opposite James Franco in the Nicolas Cage-directed ”Sonny,” and Fox opposite Charlie Hunnam and Christopher Plummer in ”Nicholas Nickleby.”