We're no strangers to all-star line-ups here in Belfast - but even by our standards, the cast of new movie Pixie is a strong one.
The comedy heist, due for release in cinemas next week, was shot around the city over seven weeks last year and stars everyone from Alec Baldwin and Colm Meaney to Dylan Moran, and Vanity Fair's Olivia Cooke in the title role.
Actor Ben Hardy - who shot to fame in Eastenders before making the leap to Hollywood with X Men: Apocalypse - plays Frank, one of Pixie's two sidekicks.
"I'm excited to see what people think of the movie," says Ben. "I had such a good time filming in Belfast, and I hope audiences love it because we had such a good time."
The movie, by screenwriter Preston Thompson and directed by his father Barnaby Thompson, follows the story of Pixie as she plans to avenge her mother's death by masterminding a heist.
With two young men in tow - Frank and his best pal Harland, played by Daryl McCormack - she finds herself on the run across the wild Irish countryside pursued by gangsters.
And while much of the action was filmed in Northern Ireland, the movie is actually set in the west of Ireland.
"What accent was I doing?" laughs Ben. "Well it's supposed to be Sligo, hopefully. I guess it was more just a neutral, west of Ireland thing, is what I was going for. Hopefully it's okay."
And of course, it is. There was proper coaching involved.
"Yeah, Olivia and I worked with a great dialect coach from day one," says Ben (29). "I was quite trepidatious about the whole thing if I'm honest, but he was excellent. I can't speak highly enough of him, and I'd definitely go with him again for any other accents I have to do."
But as well as the official instructor, Ben admits he headed to YouTube for a touch of unofficial inspiration from some well-known pop icons.
"I found out Westlife were from Sligo or thereabouts," says the star. "So I listened to just about every Westlife interview I think there is on YouTube. I did my best to get it right!"
And while Ben turned to the pop sensations, co-star Olivia, who grew up in Oldham, has spoken previously of her Irish accent-inspiration, revealing she watched "a lot of Brendan Gleeson and Pauline McLynn" to keep herself right.
She also told how she said the words "literally belittled in Little Italy" to get herself in the zone, which she said seemed to work.
And the actress (26) known for her role as Emma Decody in drama thriller Bates Motel, said working with established stars like Meaney - who plays her dad in the film - and Baldwin (a gun-toting priest) was "really fun".
"They've been in the biz for so long, they just know exactly what they want, what they can do," she said.
And working alongside stars Olivia and Daryl as part of the young trio driving the story, Ben agrees that lining up with big-name actors in the film was a great experience.
"I grew up watching Dylan Moran stand-up so I was thrilled to be working with him," says Ben, who briefly dated co-star Olivia after filming.
"He's an interesting character, and some of his witticisms, the improvisations he came up with on the day, they were brilliant.
"It's not that he didn't do any of the script, of course he did, but he did a lot of improvising around it too, throwing in new things, and he'd have us all in stitches. It was sometimes hard to keep a straight face with him.
"So some of the lines in the film are authentically and 100% Dylan's. It was brilliant to work with him, especially as he was someone I grew up watching and admired - still admire."
And what about Alec Baldwin?
"He's a tour de force," says Ben. "I'd been watching his movies for years and that was definitely part of the attraction of working on the project. He was very professional and came in and did his bit, and he's a very talented actor."
Given Ben's own rocketing path to success, he's obviously got a lot going for himself, too.
Setting his sights on an acting career as a teenager, he says had he not followed his heart, he's not sure what he might have done instead.
When childhood dreams of being an astronaut and a palaeontologist, a rugby player and a footballer, came to nothing, the star, who grew up in Dorset, stuck to his guns with this one.
"When the time came to actually pursuing something, it was always going to be acting I think," says Ben. "I have no particular family connections or anything like that, but I liked it at school.
"I did one amateur dramatic production - West Side Story where I played Riff - and I had a laugh, so I carried on and applied to drama school."
Gaining a place at London's Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, the young actor found himself in some seriously impressive company.
"I'm not the most successful alumni, God no," he says. "Not by any stretch of the imagination. Laurence Olivier went there, Rufus Sewell, Rupert Everett. Graham Norton went there too, as well as Andrew Garfield - Spiderman. There are a lot, really, and I'm sure I'm going to miss some out. A lot of good people went there."
Then landing a role in Eastenders as Peter Beale back in 2013, was more top training for the actor.
"I was there for 18 months," says Ben. "So I wasn't a lifer. I had a good time on the show but my plan was never to stay there for ever. I came in and did my bit, I learned a lot from the show and I moved on.
"It definitely taught me a lot in terms of working on camera. Back in my day we didn't do a lot of that at drama school, so it was brilliant to do that on a daily basis.
"It meant when I went on to work on film, I wasn't thinking so much about the really technical stuff, like making sure you're on the camera in the first place. They're things you don't want to be thinking about when you're acting out scenes. I learned that stuff, and it became second nature from being in Eastenders."
He must have learned a lot then, too, about being in the public eye?
"Definitely the most attention I've had was through those 18 months," says Ben.
But during filming, says the actor, it was his co-star Chris Walley (below) - of Young Offenders fame - who got the most attention while out and about in Belfast.
"I've never seen anyone get recognised as much as him," says Ben. "He had his Young Offenders haircut at the time and you'd have a swarm of teenagers just chasing him across the road towards Tesco near the Europa."
And it's fair to say Ben enjoyed his time in the city - even finding some firm favourite venues when it came to eating out and the odd night on the town.
"I filmed in Belfast before for the BBC drama The Woman in White," says the star. "But that time I stayed out near Holywood. This time we stayed right in town and we were able to explore the city more, which was brilliant.
"Belfast is a great place. It's got great bars and a lovely pint of Guinness. We found some brilliant restaurants too, and I loved Yugo. That was my favourite place to eat. We ended up in Thompsons too many times as well, and we really loved the Spaniard and the Dirty Onion too. One of my absolute favourite places to go though is the Dirty Duck in Holywood, it’s great.
“I had a great time in Belfast, I’d definitely go back. It’s a lovely spot. My parents came over to visit me because I recommended it so highly, and they thought it was beautiful. I love that whole coastline outside the city. It’s beautiful.”
Along with all the fun times though, the travel and the great experiences, Ben, who has spent a “considerable” amount of time in LA for work, says it’s important for aspiring actors to understand that a life on-screen is not an easy path to take.
“There are definitely some lows that come with it,” he says.
“In terms of whether I’d recommend acting to people coming up, well I’d say if it’s all you want to do, then yes, do it. If you can’t think of what else then go for it. That’s why I do it.
“But it can be a tough gig. I’d love to say wholeheartedly to everyone who fancies it, go for it. If you’re passionate about it, who am I to say if it’s going to happen or not?
“I know lots of people who have gone to drama school and have then not worked much afterwards. It’s just not an easy road.
“Even for people who appear to be successful, there are low periods and down periods and times when you’re not working, and they can be tough to deal with.
“This whole pandemic for one thing has affected a lot of actors, as well as people who work in a lot of other vocations. It’s not the easiest career choice.”
So how would he recommend getting around the challenges?
“Well I’m still getting around them myself, to be honest,” says Ben. “The hardest part is going from being in work to being out of work and staying positive until the next thing comes along.
“Sometimes I’ve had months without work and then a great gig comes in, and it’s just about navigating those highs and lows, keeping productive and positive through those fallow periods and learning to trust and know things will come along.”
Spending time in Northern Ireland last year — as well as a brief spell in Sligo — gave the actor some time to think about his roots.
“My mum’s side was originally from Wexford, going back about three generations, so I’m technically about half Irish because I’ve got it there in my dad’s side too.
“Mum’s side originally went from Wexford to Liverpool, but I suppose I should really go on Who Do You Think You Are? to find out about my roots.”
And while Ben says he would love to come back to Belfast, making plans isn’t as easy as it once was.
With projects shelved and ever-changing Covid-related restrictions making an impact on Ben’s life like they have on everyone else’s, he’s doing his best to keep focused on the prospect of more positive developments in the future.
“It’s all definitely a concern,” he says. “I had something that was meant to go in October that’s been pushed to January, so it’s definitely a concern.
“I’d love to click my fingers and for everything to go back to how it was, for a multitude of reasons. But it’s just about trying to adapt and take it all in one’s stride — aren’t we all doing that?
“Keeping occupied is the thing, really. I tried cooking for a bit and then realised that I don’t really like it. After starting off with that, I’ve been writing a bit, more for my own self-satisfaction than anything else.
“I’ve written this half screenplay half novel, just purely for me. It’s all a bit mad really, but I had a good time writing it and that’s the main thing.
“I’m playing piano too, well I’m trying to learn piano. I’m not Mozart by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve got a relatively good ear and I can pick up instruments relatively quickly.”
After spending the bulk of the lockdown in London, Ben, who runs and does a bit of boxing, has also spent time in Dorset with his parents.
“There’s more space and it’s nice down here because you can walk the dog and you feel like it’s not happening in some way,” he says. “When you’re out in the middle of nature, it feels just that bit further away.”
And with Pixie due to hit cinemas less than a week from now, on October 23, Ben is hopeful film fans will enjoy what the movie has to offer.
“Hopefully the audience will get a few laughs,” he says. “I wouldn’t say that I’m an all-out comedian by any stretch, but I’ve done comedy within scripts before.
“I probably feel safer in drama because comedy is so hard, but I had a lot of fun doing this movie.
“The script was so funny from the get-go and we had such a lot of fun on set. Hopefully that comes across and people will have fun watching it.”Pixie will be in cinemas from October 23