family fortunes | 

Meet the Irish family taking the acting world by storm - as Molly (10) lands gig with John Cena

Molly is currently starring in the TV thriller series The Holiday on Virgin Media One

Molly Brennan (10) with Hollywood star John Cena

Eugene Masterson

TALK about keeping it in the family - meet the talented McCann clan who are all involved in big movie and TV projects in Ireland and abroad.

The family of dad and mum Ronnie McCann and Noella Brennan and their two children Aidan (12) and Molly (10), live in Maynooth, Co Kildare.

Both Aidan and Molly are currently starring in the TV thriller series The Holiday, which started screening on Virgin Media One here on Thursday and was shown over five nights this week on Channel 5.

And if you think you've seen all four before, you're right, as this is how they might have caught your eye.

Ronnie starred in Fair City as notorious Scottish gangster Richie Lennon for the past couple of years, until he was murdered in November by crazed Lucy Mallon.

Aidan is a magician and reached the final of Britain's Got Talent.

He also featured on Ireland's Got Talent, before being whisked to America to perform on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Noella Brennan

Molly starred alongside Moe Dunford and Sarah Greene in the Irish film Rosie and also flew to Ethiopia a few years ago to play a young Dakota Fanning in Sweetness In The Belly.

Noella featured as Gunrig in the last series of Vikings, which was shot on location in Co Wicklow.

And if all that isn't enough, Noella reveals that Molly and Aidan have other big projects lined up, including a Hollywood blockbuster.

"Molly has just come back from Colombia where she was doing a movie called Freelance, where she was cast as John Cena's daughter," she discloses.

"She previously flew to Luxembourg to play Emile Hirsch's daughter in Never Grow Old, which also starred John Cusack."

Ronnie McCann and Noella Brennan and their two children Aidan (12) and Molly (10)

Aidan has also just completed work on a movie set in Ireland.

"It's a new one for Apple TV that Sharon Horgan has done, the one about four sisters," explains Noella. "He plays David, and is the son of one of the sisters, Eva Birthistle ." The film also stars Eve Hewson, Sarah Greene and Horgan.

There is another Irish connection to The Holiday, which was shot in Malta and has a mostly English cast.

Galway-born actor Owen McDonnell stars as cheating husband Sean alongside his on-screen wife, Kate, played by Jill Halfpenny. Aidan plays one of their children.

The story follows Kate, a woman who discovers that her husband is having an affair while on a luxurious holiday in the Mediterranean with their kids.

Saoirse Ronan with Aidan

The troubled couple are sharing a villa with four of Kate's closest friends, one of which is the adulterous partner, but she doesn't realise that the guilty party could be prepared to kill in order to keep their secret safe.

Noella - who accompanies her kids abroad when filming - and her sisters runs the Brennan Performing Arts School, which has centres in Maynooth, Leixlip and Enfield.

The family struck gold with The Holiday during lockdown when the two children auditioned with self-tapes for the series.

"There were only the two kids' parts in it and they had to be in different families," recalls Noella. "I was like 'five weeks in Malta, somebody please get this part!'

"So Aidan got cast in it first just on his self-tape and then Molly - they weren't sure if they looked too alike to make it feasible enough that she was in a different family, but the producers decided they looked different enough so Molly got cast in her part then as well."

Aidan and Molly, who are Noella and Ronnie's only children, have been involved in drama school since they were three years old.

Aidan does a trick for David Walliams on Britain’s Got Talent

Aidan endeared himself to TV viewers two years ago when he astonished viewers with his magic tricks on Britain's Got Talent, having also won over Louis Walsh and Jason Byrne among others on Ireland's Got Talent, as well as Ellen DeGeneres.

"He had done a few tiny things in acting first but nowhere as much as Molly and then when he was nine and wanted to start doing magic, that was all off his own back," recalls Noella.

Ronnie is originally from Glasgow and did TV work in London on Casualty and EastEnders, where he met Noella, who was mainly a stage actress. She says many people are surprised to hear of the family's star-studded exploits.

The Brennan family

"It's crazy, a lot of people would never know," she admits. "But it's just great; there's so many exciting adventures and journeys with it all and you never know what's coming up next."

- The Holiday is on Virgin Media One on Thursday nights and all episodes are available on the Virgin Media Player.

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