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Aisling Franciosi will L-IFTA glass at tonight's virtual awards

Aisling Franciosi on the red carpet at last year's European Shooting Stars ceremony in Berlin.

Esther McCarthy

Irish actress Aisling Franciosi has told how she'll have both a cup of tea and a glass of champagne at the ready for tonight's virtual IFTA Awards.

The IFTAs will see nominees and guests taking part virtually from all over the world while Deirdre O'Kane hosts from Virgin Media's TV studios - as the show goes on despite Covid.

Among them will be Irish actress Aisling, who'll be logging in from her apartment in New York. The double nominee jokes she doesn't know whether to have tea or fizz to hand, given the five-hour time difference.


Aisling Franciosi in Game of thrones

"For me, it's going to be an IFTA afternoon, so I'll have maybe on one side, a glass of champagne and on the other a cup of tea," she says.

The star of shows including The Fall and Game Of Thrones was thrilled to hear she got two nominations, for Best Lead Actress in film and the Rising Star award.

"I was here in New York when I got the news. It was a really nice surprise - it was lovely to get the recognition from home."

Though the IFTAs are going virtual this year, they've attracted several high-profile presenters, including Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley and legendary director Martin Scorsese, who will present the award for Best Irish Film.

Other guests include Liam Neeson, Chris O'Dowd and Caitriona Balfe. Aisling has had a remarkable year. She has just wrapped a major new movie-length drama thriller with Sandra Bullock for Netflix.

And next month she'll play a lead role in the hugely anticipated TV series adaptation of classic novel Black Narcissus.

She is double IFTA-nominated for her widely praised performance in The Nightingale, a gritty and violent thriller set around a group of Irish convicts shipped to Tasmania in the early 1900s. After members of her family are brutally slain, she vows to take justice into her own hands, joining forces with an Aboriginal tracker to find the culprits.

"Interestingly enough, since it's come out on Netflix, I've had a surge in responses to it," said the 27-year-old.

Comedian and actress Deirdre O’Kane is presenting

"I've been getting so many messages about it, largely positive because I think a lot of people who watched it are connecting with the very emotional story in there.

"The message of the film is if we don't cling to empathy and respect, we're going to destroy ourselves. In hindsight, that's the message that for me is very stark."

The daughter of a Co. Meath mum and a dad from the south of Italy, Aisling grew up in Dublin and treasures both sides of her heritage.

Summer holidays and Christmas breaks were often spent in Italy, where she has a large extended family.

She is now based in the US, having decided to move there a couple of years ago.

"I did want to come to the States. I had actually gone to L.A. first because a lot of people I spoke to said that's the place to go as an actor. But it's not the city for me. I love what I do, it's a huge part of who I am. But if you say 'the industry' there, it can only mean one thing, the entertainment industry. And I just feel that it's really easy to get bogged down in terms of where you're at.

"In New York, you have a lot of different artistic endeavours, you have a lot of different industries, you have a big mix of culture."

Aisling first shot to fame as the young babysitter fixated with Jamie Dornan's serial killer in The Fall.

It was one of her first ever acting jobs, and she remembers: "Even at the time, I was going whoa, what the hell!? It was definitely a kind of learn-on-your-feet experience.

"Looking back now I think that actually set the tone in the kind of roles that I get sent - slightly broken or dark or traumatised."

It's set to be a huge few months for the actress, who has a co-lead with Gemma Arterton in Black Narcissus, a TV adaptation of the classic novel.


It tells the story of a group of nuns who try to establish a mission at a remote location, only for tragedy and scandal to follow.

The series is already being heavily promoted in the US in advance of its launch next month, and then comes to the BBC.

She has also just completed working with Sandra Bullock on an untitled drama thriller for Netflix.

"I think she's incredible. She's also smart and really nice."

  • The IFTAs Film and Drama Awards airs on Virgin Media One tonight at 10pm.

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