From an 11-year-old relative newcomer to Dame Judi Dench, Belfast’s leads have quite the careers
Instantly recognisable to Outlander fans, Caitríona Balfe plays time-travelling Claire Fraser in the Starz historical drama. Whilst hopping through periods in history, Claire falls head over heels (quite literally) in love with rugged highland warrior Jamie Fraser and gets embroiled in various hairy situations, including the bloody Jacobite rising. Caitríona’s performance in Outlander secured her a British Academy Scotland Award, an Irish Film and Television Award, two People’s Choice Awards, three Saturn Awards, not to mention numerous nominations for other accolades.
No stranger to the silver screen, Caitríona starred in numerous films including The Devil Wears Prada, Super 8, Now You See Me, Escape Plan, Money Monster and Ford V Ferrari. Readers who watched Irish animated film Angela’s Christmas Wish last month, may have recognised Angela’s voice as Caitríona’s. In this tearjerker, the little girl dreams of reuniting her family for Christmas, particularly her father who is working in Australia.
In another life, Caitríona was a high fashion catwalk model. Career highlights include opening and closing fashion shows for Chanel, Givenchy, Dolce & Gabbana and Louis Vuitton to name just a few.
Dame Judi Dench
With a career spanning six decades, numerous and varied TV, film and stage roles, Dame Judi Dench needs no introduction.
She made her professional debut with the Old Vic Company theatre in the 1950s, for her performance in several of Shakespeare’s plays. She established herself as one of the most significant British theatre performers, before going on to star in successful TV shows A Fine Romance and As Time Goes By.
Fame and fortune were on the cards for this British actress, and she rose to international fame after being cast as M in GoldenEye in 1995, an iconic role she continued to play in eight James Bond films until her final cameo appearance in Spectre (2015). Judi has also starred in a long-as-your-arm list of acclaimed films including Shakespeare in Love, Murder on the Orient Express and Jane Eyre.
The octogenarian was pictured on the front cover of Vogue in June 2020 at the age of 85, making her the magazine’s eldest cover star. In the interview, Judi vowed never to retire. When asked about it, she joked “No, no, no, no. Don’t use that word, Giles. Not in this house. Not here. Wash your mouth out!”
Another name that needs no introduction. Formerly a model and dubbed The Golden Torso by The New York Times, Jamie Dornan changed direction back in 2006 to pursue his dream of being an actor.
He gained international recognition for playing Sheriff Graham Humber in Once Upon a Time and twisted serial killer Paul Spector in The Fall. Jamie’s gripping performance in the latter was rewarded with an Irish Film and Television Award for Best Actor in Television, he was also nominated for a British Academy Television Award for Best Actor.
Although the Holywood actor is probably most well-known for his role as Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades franchise, he has performed in a number of acclaimed movies including Robin Hood, A Private War, My Dinner with Hervé and Synchronic. The 2020 release Wild Mountain Thyme was met with mixed reviews and the cast was criticised for their inauthentic Irish accents — but in our eyes, Jamie can do no wrong. It feels like he was born to play Pa in Belfast.
Belfast’s child actor Jude Hill has been signed by two agencies, has already won an award and is tipped to be nominated for an Oscar — all at the tender age of 11. In fact, Jude was only nine-years-old when he found out that he’d been selected for a role in Kenneth Branagh’s semi-autobiographical drama, playing main character Buddy.
The talented youngster from Guilford, Co Down, was nominated for breakout performance at the British Independent Film Awards and received the newcomer accolade at the Hollywood Critics Association Film Awards.
HCA’s Ashley Menzel described Jude’s performance as; “one that exudes joy, curiosity, and innocence. Hill instantly captured my heart and I believe he will capture the hearts of all those who see Belfast.”
Set to make his TV debut in series Magpie Murders on Britbox next month, Jude was trained by Shelley Lowry Talent in Portadown. The company will continue to represent him in the UK.
He has been signed by United Talent Agency and Berwick & Kovacik performing arts company, both based in California. Take it from us, Jude Hill is a name you’re going to be hearing a lot more of.
Originally from Belfast, Ciarán Hinds’ 45-year acting career kicked off at the Glasgow Citizens’ Theatre as a pantomime horse in Cinderella. From his early days horsing around on stage (sorry, couldn’t resist), the actor went on to star in numerous feature films, including The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, Oscar and Lucinda, In Bruges, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
In addition to movie work, the star has amassed notable TV credits such as Mr Rochester in Jane Eyre, Captain Wentworth in Screen Two: Persuasion, and most recently sneering gangster boss Eamon Cunningham in RTÉ crime drama Kin.
Ciarán currently lives in Paris with his wife, French-Vietnamese actress Hélène Patarot. Their daughter Aoife has followed in her parents’ footsteps and acted in Derry Girls as the feisty Mae Chung, and in Normal People as Connell’s girlfriend Helen Brophy.
The 16-year-old made his feature debut in Stacey Gregg’s directorial first, Here Before, playing the part of Andrea Riseborough’s 13-year-old son Tadgh alongside a strong local cast including Martin McCann, Eileen O’Higgins and Jonjo O’Neill.
The Campbell College pupil started off with the Belvoir Players Theatre Academy and appeared in the school production, The Men Behind the Glass. His work was all on the stage but in 2019, he was invited along to audition for Here Before and after a call back, was offered the part.
In 2020, Lewis also appeared in Oorlagh George’s Stranger with a Camera and in 2021, played the role of Large Librarian in TV series Ted’s Top Ten.
Of course, he also stars alongside Jude Hill in Branagh’s new film, playing Will.
“Belfast was a really great shoot. The atmosphere on set was fantastic,” Lewis told the Belfast Telegraph last year.
“I was only supposed to be on set for 10 days, but it ended up being 20 instead. Everyone I worked with on the movie was incredibly nice.”