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A-list Teen star of Belfast movie reveals how he became pals with Jamie Dornan and Judi Dench

It really was like a family.”

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Lewis mcAskie and Jamie Dornan enjoying a round of golf early one morning before filming on Belfast

Lewis mcAskie and Jamie Dornan enjoying a round of golf early one morning before filming on Belfast

Lewis mcAskie and Jamie Dornan enjoying a round of golf early one morning before filming on Belfast

A 16-year-old star of Oscar-nominated movie Belfast has told how “down to earth” pal Jamie Dornan brought him for rounds of golf during filming.

Young actor Lewis McAskie also revealed how Hollywood A-lister Dame Judi Dench bought him his vintage suit from the film for his birthday.

The teenager said director Ken Branagh bonded his stars to make them feel “like a family” during the making of the acclaimed film.

Lewis plays Will, the older brother of young Buddy whose family have to choose whether to escape the Troubles in 1969.

It’s based on Branagh’s own experience of fleeing Belfast at the age of nine and the respected filmmaker made sure his stars, including newcomer Jude Hill, felt like a real family.

The writer and director arranged for Lewis to play golf with Jamie Dornan, while the two youngest stars mucked about in the hotel pool with Caitriona Balfe.

Branagh also shared stories of his Belfast childhood and encouraged his stellar cast to improvise scenes.

“Ken just made everything so unbelievable. He made us so at ease,” says Lewis.

“He would do stuff like me and Jamie Dornan playing golf on one of the first days of knowing each other, like a son and dad bonding thing. We’d all play baseball and basketball and football.

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Lewis McAskie

Lewis McAskie

Lewis McAskie

“And Caitriona was really like a mum to us. We’d go down and muck about in the pool and to do that with someone who is a huge actress who’s in Outlander. Now I look back on it and realise how good an opportunity it really was to mess around with these people.

“It really was like a family.”

The Campbell College GCSE student says Jamie Dornan became a pal and he’s made a friendship for life with Jude.

The younger star often walked round the golf course with Lewis, while Jamie marked their final day of filming near London with a last round.

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“We played each other on the last day of filming at 6.30 in the morning and he beat me by two holes. It was a close match,” he says.

“Jamie is very down to earth. He was like a dad to us on set and he made Jude and I so involved in everything. Even though we have such a big age difference he is more like a mate

“Me and Jude got on like a house on fire. It’s a friendship I will have probably forever.

“We would run about the hotel all day and when I played golf at the weekends he would come and watch me play and walk round 18 holes with me.”

Lewis, who’s been acting since the age of 11, also made an impression on Dame Judi Dench, who’s earned one of the film’s seven Oscar nominations, for best supporting actress.

In one of the key scenes of the film, when Jamie Dornan sings Everlasting Love in a club, the costume department put the teenager in a vintage suit, which became an unexpected birthday present.

“We had just finished filming that scene and I was standing next to Judi and she said, ‘don’t you look so handsome in that suit. I will not do another scene until that suit is yours’.

“This was in August and it was my birthday on September 15, and I remember Judi’s assistant came to my locker that morning and she knocked on the door and brought me the suit with a little packet of lucky silver gems.

“Judi wrote me a note and she said to me later that night, ‘whenever you put that suit on, I want you to think of me,’” says Lewis.

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Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast is among the 267 films eligible for this year’s Academy Awards (Brian Lawless/ PA)

Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast is among the 267 films eligible for this year’s Academy Awards (Brian Lawless/ PA)

Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast is among the 267 films eligible for this year’s Academy Awards (Brian Lawless/ PA)

He’s delighted with the movie’s Oscar nominations, including best picture, best director and best original screenplay for Ken Branagh and best supporting actor for Ciaran Hinds.

Belfast has also been nominated for six Baftas.

Lewis admits he didn’t know Ken was a film and stage legend before making the movie, which probably helped as he would have been more nervous in his auditions.

“Seven nominations is absolutely crazy. I’m over the moon for Ciaran and Judi and I think they have a real chance of winning because they are so realistic as grandparents from that time.

“The film being nominated for best picture is a huge one, and I’d expect Ken Branagh to win best director with flying colours.

“It’s a great way to start a career for a kid my age, and I’m really proud to be in the film.”

The talented teenager, who also helps teach drama to younger kids in weekly classes with his agent Shelley Lowry, is already making his mark with another movie opening in the QFT on February 18, Here Before, from acclaimed writer and director Stacey Gregg.

He made a little bit of history when he starred in the opening and closing films of last year’s Belfast Film Festival, Belfast and Here Before, in which Lewis plays the son of a family who have lost their daughter.

When a new family move in next door whose daughter bears a striking resemblance to the lost child, she tries to convince them she’s a reincarnation of the dead girl.

The young actor has also worked with The Shore Oscar winners Oorlagh and Terry George on Stranger with a Camera, filming for two weeks in Tollymore, which hasn’t yet got a release date.

And he did his first TV gig last year on ITV’s Ted’s Top Ten.

“It was good to get that TV experience because I hadn’t done much before. I’m hoping to get another TV part soon which would be cool. At the minute I’m hoping to get my GCSEs out of the way,” he says.

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