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stars in her eyes Miracle baby's rise to fame after brushing shoulders with Blunt and Dornan in controversial flick


Abigail Coburn With Emily Blunt in the new movie Wild Mountain Thyme

Abigail Coburn With Emily Blunt in the new movie Wild Mountain Thyme

Abigail Coburn going over lines in her trailer

Abigail Coburn going over lines in her trailer

Abigail Coburn with her on-screen parents, played by Dearbhla Molloy and Don Wycherley

Abigail Coburn with her on-screen parents, played by Dearbhla Molloy and Don Wycherley


Abigail Coburn With Emily Blunt in the new movie Wild Mountain Thyme

A MIRACLE baby who blossomed into playing the young Emily Blunt character in controversial movie Wild Mountain Thyme last night lashed out at critics berating Blunt for her accent in the film.

“Accents are hard,” insists adorable Abigail Coburn (11). “Most people are judging the accents based on the trailer which is a little unfair.

“I think anyone who sees the movie will realise what a wonderful job John Patrick Shanley (the writer and director) has done telling this beautiful story. It has an almost fairy tale vibe to it and so in that world who is to say that an accent is wrong or not?”

Dubliner Abigail plays young Rosemary Muldoon in the film, whose older character is played by award-winning British star Emily Blunt, known for her roles in The Devil Wears Prada, A Quiet Place and Mary Poppins Returns.

“She was super lovely,” raves Abigail, in her first ever interview. “We only had one scene together, a flashback ballet scene, but we ended up in the same holding space for separate scenes one day.

“She was great to chat to for ages on the sofa and then we went to the kitchen to play with the dogs of the family who owned the farm.”

The film was shot in rural Co. Mayo and Abigail got to hang out too with the male lead in the flick, northern Irishman Jamie Dornan, who has also come in for criticism over his country accent in the film.

“I spent the most time in hair and make-up with Jamie,” recalls Abigail. “He was a little shy but lovely to talk to. He chatted about his kids and family stuff mostly. He always stopped to say hello too.”

Abigail is a miracle baby as she was born premature at 26 weeks, after her mum Emma became seriously ill with preeclampsia. It is a condition caused by high blood pressure and protein, and causes complications in several organs, including the liver, kidneys and lungs.


One-week-old Abigail Coburn in ICU in Holles Street.

One-week-old Abigail Coburn in ICU in Holles Street.

One-week-old Abigail Coburn in ICU in Holles Street.

Abigail’s father is well-known radio DJ Liam Coburn, from Dublin station Q102. He describes how 14 doctors and nurses spent several hours battling to save Abigail and Emma’s lives in the operating theatre.

“She weighed just 1lb 4oz at birth and was so tiny, we weren’t allowed to hold her for the first week or so,” Liam tells the Sunday World.

“It’s a miracle that she’s here at all. I’ll never forget the consultant, Rhona Mahony, calling me aside to tell me that there was only a 40 per cent chance that Abigail would survive and, if she did, it was highly likely that she would be brain damaged. Thankfully, she was perfect.

“The team in Unit 8 (the ICU) in Holles Street were just incredible and I’ll never be able to thank them and the team of doctors and nurses in the delivery room enough for saving Abigail and Emma’s lives.

“I will always have huge admiration and respect for these people, they’re amazing.”

Abigail got into acting through her mum Emma Ryan, who is a drama teacher. She started classes at the age of seven with Visions Drama School and travels from her home in Killester in north Dublin to Monkstown in south Dublin most days.


Abigail with her dad Liam Coburn

Abigail with her dad Liam Coburn

Abigail with her dad Liam Coburn

She got her first screen acting role for Allianz Insurance.

“I got to wreck the house, knocking down lamps and banging about,” she exclaims. “It was lots of fun.

“I’m not the same at home, my brother is the destructive one!”

Abigail lives at home with her parents and brothers Declan and Elliot (she also has two step brothers, Josh and Tobey).

Last year she got her first big movie role when she won a part in The Professor and the Madman, playing Mel Gibson’s youngest daughter in the flick, with scenes filmed in Shankill, Co. Dublin, Trinity College in the capital and parts of Co. Wicklow.

“It was lovely to meet Mel. Most of his movies were too old for me to have seen yet so I only knew him as Rocky from Chicken Run,” Abigail tells the Sunday World. “He made a point to introduce himself to everyone on our first day and have chats.

“He took time to run lines with me which was lovely. He even brought us in to the producers tent to watch playback and he explained how and why certain scenes were being shot in the way they were.

“It was a lovely first film set to be on. They also made it snow in Shankill in October which was probably my favourite part of it all.”

For her audition for Wild Mountain Thyme she had to do an improvised dance to Swan Lake. She bowled over the casting agents and was whisked to Co. Mayo.

“Mayo was lovely,” she beams. “They put us all up in Mount Falcon which was beautiful. Most of my scenes were on the farm. I wasn’t a fan of the smell but it was my first time on a farm so that was exciting.

“My first day I spent most of it strapped up in a tree. I’m not a fan of heights so that was tough but everyone was very patient with me.

“My parents were played by Don Wycherley and Dearbhla Molloy, both of whom were just super lovely and friendly. I got to spend a morning with Don running lines in hair and make-up while I got my wig on. He’s great fun.”

In Wild Mountain Thyme Jamie Dornan plays Anthony Reilly, a shy and clearly on the spectrum young farmer who is shouldering a secret burden that makes him hard to get to know. Unbeknownst to him, he is secretly worshipped by Rosemary Muldoon (Emily Blunt), the girl from the neighbouring farm who has loved him since they were children.

The film is based on the play Outside Mullingar by American Pulitzer prize-winner John Patrick Shanley, who wrote Oscar winner Moonstruck.

“I didn’t get to meet John until the first day and then he promptly had me put in that tree,” smiles Abigail. “He was very friendly and all the crew loved him. He was always smiling and very laid back. I’ve kept in touch with him, he always makes time.”

She adds: “I hadn’t seen or read the play beforehand. I saw a small clip from YouTube but that was it. In the play Young Anthony, Young Rosemary and even Jon Hamm’s character don’t make an appearance so our parts were all written just for the film version. Rosemary Muldoon is a real person though and she is at a party scene in the movie.”

Dubliner Darragh O’Kane played young Anthony in the movie.

Abigail eventually got to a preview screening of the film shortly before its American release last month.

She was almost more impressed when she was shown on RTÉ’s Nine O’Clock News in the controversy after the trailer was released.

“The social media chatter about the accents and about the trailer on the Nine O’Clock News was great.”

Asked if she might be considered ‘the new Saoirse Ronan’ who got an Oscar nomination at the age of 15 for Atonement – Abigail pipes up: “Wow, it’s so lovely to have that even suggested and to be mentioned in the same breath as someone on her level.”

The youngster pauses when asked who she’d pick as her plus one if she got to the Oscars in the future.

“That’s a really hard question,” she muses. “I can’t pick favourites.”

Her next role will be in a pilot for a RTÉ comedy series.

Online Editors