‘Belfast’ star Jude Hill thrilled with Oscar nominations for Kenneth Branagh’s ‘beautiful story’


For groundbreaking ‘Belfast’ star Jude Hill, the power of his Oscar-nominated drama is more than black and white.

The 11-year-old actor, who won Best Young Actor at the Critics Choice Awards this month, said the entire cast and crew realized they were telling a story special while working on Kenneth Branagh’s semi-autobiographical film about a boy growing up in Northern Ireland during the social unrest of the late 1960s.

Hill, who plays the central child, Buddy, thinks anyone can relate to something or someone in the heartfelt coming-of-age story.

“Maybe they left home at a very young age,” Hill told the Daily News. “Maybe they saw each other with the character of Buddy. Maybe they saw each other with Pop, Ma, Pa. I think everyone sees it a bit.

The black-and-white film, which Branagh wrote and directed, is nominated for seven Oscars at Sunday’s Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.

Hill, who is from Northern Ireland, says the recognition “means the world” to the filmmakers.

“We’re all so close and we’ve all worked hard as a team to produce this great Ken story,” Hill said. “We all hope and believe that we have made him proud. We would love for Ken to get the recognition he deserves.

The film is set around the onset of The Troubles, a decades-long conflict often characterized by unrest between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland.

Hill hadn’t yet heard of the school unrest when he started working on the film, but says his co-stars and parents, as well as documentaries and news videos, told him. helped “get into someone’s head” who lived through the era.

He also said that Branagh helped him find his way into his character.

“I remember during rehearsals he would just tell me stories of him as a kid,” Hill said. “Maybe he’s in trouble with the teachers or…about the football games. Really all he remembered from his childhood. I have to say it helped me a lot.

Hill stars in the film with Jamie Dornan and Caitriona Balfe, who play Buddy’s parents, as well as Judi Dench and Ciaran Hinds, who are Oscar-nominated for their portrayals of her grandparents.

Hill said he quickly bonded with his character through a shared love of film, family and football.

“In the film, Buddy is a Tottenham Hotspurs fan, and while I’m a Liverpool fan, we’re both die-hard football fans,” Hill said.

It’s been a hectic awards season for Hill, who says he loved meeting celebrities at the various ceremonies while rocking his junior-size tuxedo.

He was recently invited by Jared Leto to attend the premiere of the actor’s new Marvel movie, “Morbius,” and even met one of his idols, Andrew Garfield.

“Andrew Garfield was super, super nice, and he seemed to like the movie a lot, and he seemed to like me a lot, which I never thought would happen,” Hill said.

“Belfast” marks Hill’s feature film debut. He said Dench and Hinds constantly joked and reminded him of his own grandparents.

“I will never forget being on set with Ken every day and will take all of his advice with me along the way,” Hill said. “How lucky have I been?



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