Belfast’s Jude Hill: ‘All the celebrities at the Oscars, they were shaking with nerves!’

Jude Hill beat 300 other hopefuls to play Buddy, the boy in Kenneth Branagh’s film. The film is a glittering success – and so is the young actor whose career it launched

A mid all the scandals and controversies dogging Hollywood and the Oscars, a seemingly endless din of accusation and recrimination, talking to Jude Hill feels like a restorative balm. Instead of solemn critique, he reminds you the film industry can be about joy, fun, adventure and talented people doing something they love. He makes an encounter with Anthony Hopkins sound like a hug from a soft, giant teddy bear. This actor is a credible emissary of such outlandish tales because he has just spent a year working the Hollywood machine and emerged untouched by cynicism. It may help that he is 11 years old.

“This has been such a fun ride. I have met a bunch of really, really nice people along the way and I really hope I get to do more acting in the future. I can’t wait for it,” he says. Jude probably won’t have to wait long, given the plaudits for his star turn in Belfast, Kenneth Branagh’s semi-autobiographical homage to his home city. Jude is speaking via Zoom from his home in a village in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. Framed by an artfully hung white sheet, he is composed and articulate and appears ever so slightly older than Buddy, the character he inhabited, but the twinkly exuberance is the same.

“I think it’s starting to sort of calm down around now,” says Jude. “It feels good to just go to school with my friends and play with them in the playgrounds. I always was and will be Jude Hill. But yeah, going back to normality has been a relief.” There is a gleam in the eye, however, lest it be thought Jude Hill is done with fame. “I don’t think I’ll ever go back to normal after this.”