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Selected from 300 hopefuls to play the lead role of Buddy, based on Branagh’s younger self, Hill joined an all-star cast that included Caitriona Balfe, Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan and Ciaran Hinds. Set in late 1960s Northern Ireland amid the rising Troubles, Belfast garnered almost universal praise after bowing in Telluride, but it was Hill that was singled out by critics for his first-ever screen performance. He was nominated for breakout performance at the British Independent Film Awards and in January will receive the newcomer award at the Hollywood Critics Association Film Awards.
The 11-year-old is now hotly tipped for an Oscar nomination — which would make him the youngest actor nominated in almost a century — and Focus Features is campaigning for him for lead actor consideration.
Hill will soon make his TV debut, having filmed the British series Magpie Murders alongside Leslie Mann for BritBox.
After his talents were first spotted at age 4 by his mother after he read a poem aloud at school, Hill trained at Northern Ireland’s Shelley Lowry School for speech and drama. Shelley Lowry will continue to represent Hill in the U.K.
“Shelley Lowry Talent is proud to have developed Jude’s talent and to have guided his career from a young age,” said Lowry. “We are thrilled to continue to be an integral part of his career and this excellent team, and we are also hopeful that this will provide continued inspiration for many Northern Irish actors in the future.”
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