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November 07, 2008 01:30 PM

Sean Penn took a subtle swipe at former wife Madonna – suggesting that her latest soon-to-be ex, movie director Guy Ritchie, might enjoy a career resurgence after their split.

“What’s my ‘British’ thing to say?” mused Penn, 48, while accepting BAFTA/LA’s Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for Excellence in Film at Thursday’s Britannia Awards ceremony in Century City. “Guy Ritchie is back!”

Penn’s jab, which prompted a delayed-reaction roar of laughter and applause from the largely English audience, came on the heels of another Madonna-based punchline from director Paul Thomas Anderson, who presented his friend with the award.

Following a compilation of clips from Penn’s distinguished acting and directing career – he is about to star in the biopic Milk – Anderson noted, “They never show Shanghai Surprise,” a reference to the notorious 1986 flop starring the then-married Penn and Madonna. (The two were married from 1985 to 1989.)

Anderson’s zinger sent Penn into a fit of giggles.

“But Dead Man Walking makes up for it,” insisted Anderson.

Making Fun of Penn

Anderson further roasted his friend by outlining the vast difference between Penn and the award namesake Kubrick – and no one laughed harder than Penn.

“Stanley Kubrick was a perfectionist and a man of amazing intellect. Sean’s not really either one of those things,” snapped Anderson. “Stanley Kubrick was a photographer in the beginning of his career. Sean has done considerable damage to photographers’ cameras in the beginning of his career. Stanley Kubrick made Spartacus. Sean Penn spent 32 days in L.A. County Jail.”

Accepting his award, Penn said he wished to tell Kubrick “to go to sleep, because I don’t want him to turn anymore in his grave.”

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