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Boy from Belfast is tipped as youngest male Oscar nominee in 91 years

Belfast boy new Kenneth Branagh is tipped as youngest male Oscar nominee in 91 years

  • Jude Hill’s stellar performance has earned him an Oscar nominee since 1931
  • The film, about a boy growing up in a working-class family during the Troubles in the late 1960s, has been shot largely in black and white and has received critical acclaim.
  • Jude, now 11, has been hailed as ‘a natural’ by actor Sir Kenneth Branagh
  • Dame Judi Dench said he was ‘like an actor who had 25 years of experience’
  • American star Jackie Cooper was nine when he was nominated for best actor
  • The youngest Oscar winner for best actor was Adrien Brody, who was 29 at the time



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He was nine when he defeated 300 contenders to play a fictionalized version of a young Sir Kenneth Branagh in the director’s semi-autobiographical film, Belfast.

Now Jude Hill’s stellar performance has tipped him to become the youngest actor to receive a Best Actor Oscar nomination since 1931.

The film, about a boy growing up in a working-class family during the Troubles in the late 1960s, was shot largely in black and white.

It opened yesterday and has been met with accolades – in his five-star review, the Daily Mail critic Brian Viner called it a minor masterpiece.

Jude, now 11, has been hailed by Sir Kenneth as ‘a natural talent’, while co-star Dame Judi Dench said he ‘completely resembled an actor who had 25 years of experience’.

Jude Hill's stellar performance in Belfast made him the youngest actor to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Actor since 1931

Jude Hill’s stellar performance in Belfast made him the youngest actor to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Actor since 1931

The schoolboy from the village of Gilford, about 25 miles from Belfast, has been named Best Newcomer by the Hollywood Critics Association for his role as Buddy, alongside Jamie Dornan and Caitriona Balfe as his parents and Dame Judi and Ciaran Hinds as his grandparents.

Jude, who trained in speech and drama at Shelley Lowry School, got the part after submitting a tape of his work and having a series of virtual interviews and auditions.

“The first audition I ever did was a self-recording,” he said. “I go to speech and drama classes and I do poems and excerpts from books and my teacher forwarded this self-tape and I filmed it and I got a call back like five or six times.”

The self-tape was a scene from a movie his mother had chosen. He used a scene from Belfast for future auditions for the final hurdle: a conversation with Sir Kenneth.

“When the email came in, I ran around my house screaming for about five minutes,” Jude said of winning the part.

“I didn’t even get halfway there and I read it all and I found out who was going to be in it and I was amazed… It was just crazy.”

Jude Hill and his mother Shauneen Hill arrive in London on December 5, 2021 at the 24th British Independent Film Awards at Old Billingsgate.  It seems his newfound fame isn't going to his head.  His mother said, 'He's very humble and he's such a good boy in it'

Jude Hill and his mother Shauneen Hill arrive in London on December 5, 2021 at the 24th British Independent Film Awards at Old Billingsgate.  It seems his newfound fame isn't going to his head.  His mother said, 'He's very humble and he's such a good boy in it'

Jude Hill and his mother Shauneen Hill arrive in London on December 5, 2021 at the 24th British Independent Film Awards at Old Billingsgate. It seems his newfound fame isn’t going to his head. His mother said, ‘He’s very humble and he’s such a good boy in it’

Jude Hill (center) with actors Judi Dench and Ciaran Hinds, are co-stars in the movie 'Belfast'

Jude Hill (center) with actors Judi Dench and Ciaran Hinds, are co-stars in the movie 'Belfast'

Jude Hill (center) with actors Judi Dench and Ciaran Hinds, are co-stars in the movie ‘Belfast’

Jude, who lives with his parents Daryl and Shauneen and has a younger sister and brother, has now been signed up by talent agencies in Los Angeles.

But it seems his newfound fame isn’t going to his head. His mother said, ‘He’s very humble and he’s such a good boy in that.

Even when he went back to school after that [filming], his teachers asked him a lot of questions and he didn’t really talk about it.

“He’s just a normal kid and that’s how we and he want to stay.”

She said she discovered her son’s talent when he was only four, after reciting the poem Roger Was A Razor Fish at school.

Director Kenneth Branagh (left) and actor Jude Hill (right) on the set of Belfast

Director Kenneth Branagh (left) and actor Jude Hill (right) on the set of Belfast

Director Kenneth Branagh (left) and actor Jude Hill (right) on the set of Belfast

“He was actually unreal, just in terms of the delivery and his expression,” she told the Hollywood Reporter.

American star Jackie Cooper was nine when he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1931 for his role in the comedy Skippy.

The youngest Oscar winner for best actor was Adrien Brody, who was 29 when he took home the Academy Award in 2002 for his role in The Pianist.

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