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Teen Ulster actor is a blockbuster star

Art Parkinson
Art Parkinson

Ulster teenager Art Parkinson has battled earthquakes with Dwayne Johnson and voiced a cartoon movie with Charlize Theron.


The 13-year-old actor is a Game of Thrones veteran who has already got seven movies under his belt.

His latest release is summer blockbuster San Andreas, a special effects epic he filmed in Australia.

But it was back in Belfast that he had one of his best movie experiences – getting to the top of one of the shipyard cranes.

Art is on the big screen again next week in Shooting for Socrates, as nine year old football fanatic Tommy, willing Northern Ireland to win against soccer giants Brazil in the 1986 World Cup.

With his crane-driving dad, played by Richard Dormer, young Tommy’s birthday treat is to climb one of the Belfast landmarks, and Art was just as thrilled, although getting to play football came a close second.

“My high point of the film was getting to go to the top of one of the highest, coolest places in Belfast, the Harland and Wolff crane,” says the young actor.

“I am apparently only the second child to ever go up there. It’s really hard to get permission and there are all sorts of security and training to go through before they let you up.

“I also got to play a little bit of football – it was great having a real match with the other kids who were really good footballers.

“I’m a football fan and I support Arsenal. They were my dad’s team growing up and now it’s only us that support them in our house,” says Art, from Moville.

With actress mum Movania he’s part of a Donegal drama dynasty which includes brothers Pearce and Padhraig, who appeared in Ciaran Hinds movie The Sea.

The family background helped when Art auditioned for his Game of Thrones role after casting directors struggled to find a child actor to play Rickon Stark.

He went into series three of the HBO epic but he was unfazed about joining an already established cast on the worldwide series.

“I didn’t find it daunting going on to a production like Game of Thrones as I had done so much preparation for the part with my mother, who coaches me.

“I do find working in TV different from film as you get to see everyone in a few months’ time when you finish a season of a TV series compared to a film where you might not see someone after the premiere for years, unless of course there are sequels to a movie.”

Last year Art appeared in Love Rosie and Dracula Untold, playing the vampire lord’s son in the Northern Ireland-shot film.

In May 2014 he travelled to Australia for his role in San Andreas, with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson as a rescue pilot who’s racing to save his daughter Blake when the massive California fault line triggers an enormous earthquake.

“I play a young, smart, resilient and very brave boy called Ollie who is from England and has come over the California for a holiday with his older brother Ben. They both run into Blake, who is played by Alexandra Daddario.

“It is definitely a film I would see as it is jam-packed full of action and emotion,” says Art.

He’s currently working on an animated story, Kubo and the Two Strings, in the lead role as a boy who is pursued by gods and monsters when a spirit in his quiet village awakens an old feud. Kubo’s only chance is to find the suit of armour worn by his father, the world’s greatest Samurai, in the film which will be released next year.

It’s got a stellar cast including Mathew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara and Mad Max star Charlize Theron.

“I haven’t finished recording Kubo and the Two Strings,” says Art.

“I cannot say much about the story yet. We have been working with Charlize but are yet to work with Matthew McConaughey.”

In between parts Art’s life goes back to normal with schools and pals, a transition he finds simple.

“It is very easy to go back to school between roles and work as my school is very helpful and supportive of my career along with my friends and family,” he says.

He has already been hailed as a young actor to watch on movie site IMDB, alongside Elle Fanning and Chloe Grace Moretz.

The teenager has been acting since the age of seven and says it’s the only career for him.

“I always strived to be an actor and want to continue acting for the rest of my life.

“My favourite part of my career is seeing my name in the credits at the beginning of a movie. Then you know you’ve made it,” says Art.

Shooting for Socrates opens in cinemas on June 5.