Belfast Telegraph

Helen Mirren says return of hard border in Ireland would be 'tragedy'

Dame Helen Mirren (PA)
Dame Helen Mirren (PA)

Actress Helen Mirren has said it would be a "tragedy" if a border was re-introduced in Ireland because of Brexit.

The multi-award winning actress, who has filmed three movies in Ireland- Excalibur, Cal and Some Mother's Son, said she doesn't want to see Northern Ireland go back to the bad old days post-Brexit.

She told the Irish Sun on Sunday: "I was in Belfast at the time of the Troubles and it was a very different Belfast to how it is now.

“I was so excited to see things like Game of Thrones being shot there and to see that beautiful, beautiful part of the country really beginning to flourish.

"It was very exciting for me, especially having seen it in its darkest days.

“All I can say is that I hope the North of Ireland continues to ­flourish. I hope that films will ­continue to be made there.

"It would be a tragedy to me if Northern ­Ireland again becomes cut off.”

The first movie the Oscar winner filmed in Ireland was Excalibur, which was shot in Wicklow in 1981.

She hit it off with co-star Liam Neeson with the pair dating for the next two years.

She then went on to film Cal in Northern Ireland in 1984, playing a British soldier's widow who falls in love with her husband's killer.

Twelves years later she returned to Northern Ireland to star in Some Mother's Son, based on the hunger strike at the Maze Prison.

She played the mother of a man arrested for alleged ties to the IRA.

“Those films were very much of their era. It was a great experience to live in that world, as one does when you play a movie — you’re living in that world," she said.

“It’s amazing, we’re ­talking about 300 years of history here and it’s extraordinary how long these kinds of fault lines can continue on, long past their sell-by date.”

The superstar actress said she is proud of the contributions film-makers make when they bring productions to a particular location.

She explained: “When movies come to town — as I’ve seen in Belfast and elsewhere — restaurants flourish, drivers thrive, there are so many jobs around the film industry that local people can pick up.

“I know the film business has its detractors, but there is also something very generous about it.

“Film people in general are open minded and energetic and there’s a great energy they bring to town.

"I really hope that the film industry in Belfast not only continues, but that it thrives.”

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