The US-Ireland Alliance celebrated its 13th Annual Oscar Wilde Awards last night in Santa Monica. Emceed by J.J. Abrams, the evening’s honorees were Barry Keoghan, Mark Hamill, Paula Malcomson, and Catherine O’Hara.
Previous Oscar Wilde Award recipient, Colin Farrell, presented Barry Keoghan with the Wilde Card Award, which is given to a promising up-and-coming actor. Keoghan recently starred with Farrell in THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER. Farrell mentioned the many films Keoghan has made in such a short period of time, including Dunkirk, in which, “he played such a pivotal role that, for me, was the heart and soul of the film.” Keoghan made the last flight out of Ireland before the snowstorm to accept his award.
In presenting Northern Irish actress Paula Malcomson with her award, Abrams spoke of her incredible career and said, “Paula was brilliant as Abby through 5 years of RAY DONOVAN, and we were sad to see her character die this season. If you haven't yet watched Ray Donovan, don't get too attached to the character named ABBY.”
In accepting, Malcomson thanked Trina Vargo (founder of the US-Ireland Allaince) for her role in the Northern Ireland peace process. She noted that the accomplishment of the Good Friday Agreement, 20 years ago, was “a Sisyphean task,” but added that “the country is utterly changed. There’s hope now, there is possibility, there is Game of Thrones. People are able to work together on films, on TV shows, without the clanging of those sectarian bells of the past. When I left Belfast, it was a very different place, bleaker, darker in 1990. I had hightailed it to New York City, I had 27 pounds in my pocket, that I had borrowed from my granny, at a favourable interest rate. This country took in an 18-year old girl, it wrapped its arms around her, and handed her a better life. I’ve been able to do things that I never thought were possible. I’ve been able to live the American dream. So I only hope that the American dream is available for those who reach out and grab it the way I did. And I’m not so sure right now.”
In introducing Mark Hamill, Abrams joked that he will always be best known for his role as Kent Murray in General Hospital and said, "It was between shots, and there we were atop this glorious island in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with Mark, in costume. I started playing John Williams' iconic Binary Sunset cue from Star Wars Episode Four on my phone. It was incredibly emotional. All any of us could think was, I can't believe I get to be here. With Kent Murray." On a serious note, Abrams said it was, “a joy to work with, it was a dream … directing an idol.”
In accepting, Hamill mentioned being at the event a few years ago, when his dear friend, Carrie Fisher was honoured. He also spoke of his Irish father and how he learned much about Ireland from a rich legacy of films about Ireland. He talked about filming STAR WARS in Ireland and how THE FORCE AWAKENS will alone mean billions for the Irish economy, “not to mention encouraging countless STAR WARS nerds to make it a go-to destination.”
In introducing his friend, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short said, “I am proud to call Catherine O’Hara my friend and it’s not because she’s successful or rich, it’s because she’s both. In fact, of all the people in show business I truly admire, Catherine is very close to being one of them. Catherine, you deserve this award my love, and not just because you campaigned the hardest to get it. Catherine O’Hara has been one of the greatest comedic influences in my life. You are a breathtakingly brilliant, staggering original who has, and continues to, inspire.”
O’Hara joked that the Irish, “mock us for wandering through your graveyards, searching for someone, anyone, with our last names.” She spoke eloquently of the importance of her Irish heritage, and the country, saying, “who doesn’t want to be associated with people known for their deep and undying love of the land, the letter, romance, family, laughter -- at themselves, almost as much as at others -- music and any lovely thing that brings a tear to the eye. A land of passionately empathetic poets, composers, politicians, filmmakers, revolutionaries and first responders. All the great qualities we strive for in America, we take for granted in the Irish.”
Performing at the event were recent Irish chart-toppers The Academic. They included 'Linger' in their set, in tribute to Dolores O’Riordan.