Paul Mescal emerged as one of the breakout stars of 2020 thanks to his performance in BBC and Hulu drama “Normal People.”
Ireland has seen a slew of such acting talent establish themselves in recent years, like Jessie Buckley with her star turn as the pregnant wife of a doomed Russian fireman in “Chernobyl” and Barry Keoghan, who won attention with lead roles in two 2017 films, “Killing of a Sacred Deer” and “Dunkirk.” Keoghan is now BAFTA-nominated for “Calm with Horses,” as is Niamh Algar, whose credits include “The Virtues” and “Raised by Wolves.” Elsewhere Domhnall Gleeson has made a name for himself as General Dux in recent “Star Wars” films, and also in “The Revenant” and “Ex Machina.”
Among the new generation of actors to watch are Fionn O’Shea, chosen as one of the Berlin Film Festival’s Shooting Stars of 2021. A “Normal People” alumnus, O’Shea will next be seen in Nathalie Biancheri’s “Wolf.” Meanwhile, Clare Dunne – who starred in Phyllida Lloyd’s “Herself” – next appears in upcoming Irish crime drama “Kin.” Seana Kerslake has just appeared in new Irish drama “Smother,” having starred in Lee Cronin’s “Hole in the Ground.” Kerslake recently finished filming on upcoming feature comedy “Ballywalter,” starring alongside Patrick Kielty. Having played Liza Minnelli in “Judy,” Gemma-Leah Devereux’s latest work can also be seen in “Smother.” Ann Skelly won plaudits and an IFTA nomination for her role in “Death and Nightingales.”
Similarly, established directors are readying new projects. Lenny Abrahamson is gearing up to shoot “Conversations with Friends,” the follow up to hit Sally Rooney adaptation “Normal People.” “Here Was Cuba” and “The Farthest” documentary director and editor Emer Reynolds is about to start her first fiction film. Lorcan Finnegan’s third feature “Nocebo” has just started filming, while “The Hole in the Ground” director Lee Cronin is prepping the next film in the “Evil Dead” franchise. Others, like Neasa Hardiman (“Sea Fever”), Brendan Muldowney (“The Ten Steps”), and Lisa Mulcahy (“Ridley Road”), have built up plaudits across film and TV.
Coming up is new directing talent, such as actor-turned-director Antonia Campbell-Hughes, who has just helmed her first feature, “It Is in Us All.” Kate Dolan has also directed her first feature, the horror “You Are Not My Mother,” backed by Screen Ireland. Elsewhere, Hannah Quinn has directed episodes of “Vikings: Valhalla,” “Fate: The Winx Saga” and “The Stranger,” while Tom Sullivan directed the Irish-language “Arracht,” Ireland’s entry for the Oscar’s international feature category. Acclaimed shorts director Cathy Brady made her feature debut last year with “Wildfire,” which played at the London and Toronto film festivals.