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Hollywood opens up for Irish starlet

By Maureen Coleman

A young Irish actress, currently in Belfast shooting Tom Hanks' new movie City of Ember, is being tipped for Hollywood stardom.

Saoirse Ronan, from Ardattin in Co Carlow, plays Lina Mayfleet - one of the lead characters in the film, which also stars Bill Murray and Tim Robbins.

The film, produced by Hanks, is her latest project after her debut movie Atonement stole the show at the Venice Film Festival last week.

The 13-year-old stars alongside James McAvoy and Keira Knightley in Atonement, which was the curtain-raiser for the prestigious festival. In the movie, she plays a young girl whose over-active imagination leads to tragedy.

When asked had she any advice for her co-star, Keira Knightley replied: " I take advice from Saoirse, I wouldn't dream of giving it to her."

Her role in Atonement brought rave reviews and it is expected City of Ember will help make her a household name.

The schoolgirl made her acting debut in RTE series The Clinic and Atonement and City of Ember are just two of four major movies under her belt, all set for release in the coming months.

In City of Ember, which is being shot in a former paint hall in the Titanic Quarter in Belfast, Saoirse plays a 12-year-old, who along with another child, is in a race against time to save the City of Ember when its electricity supply starts to fail. The pair must search the post-apocalyptic city for clues to help its citizens escape before the lights go out.

The sci-fi movie is based on a novel by Jeanne Duprau and is being filmed in Belfast over the summer.

Hollywood actors Bill Murray and Tim Robbins have been spotted out and about around Belfast and it was rumoured that Hanks himself paid a visit to the city to meet his cast and crew.

Following City of Ember, Saoirse will join director Peter Jackson in Pennsylvania to shoot the film of Alice Sebold's award- winning book The Lovely Bones with Rachel Weisz.

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