Magazine article Variety

Hollywood Kudofest Celebrates the Importance of Being Irish

Magazine article Variety

Hollywood Kudofest Celebrates the Importance of Being Irish

Article excerpt

By WILL THORNE

Oscar Wilde Awards honoree Martin Short, known for his zingers and stinging observations, was asked if anyone in the current presidential administration is ripe for satire. "Everyone is ripe for satire" he says, "particularly in this administration. But it's hard to satirize, hard to go broader than what we have seen"

Asked if his talk-show character Jiminy Glick would have anything to say about the current Trump administration, Short demurs. "I'm not going there"

Short feels a connection to the Wilde Awards. "My mother was half-Irish, my father was 100%" he offers. Short, who has credits going back to 1972, says his father introduced him to film. They watched Ireland-set films such as "The Quiet Man" and "Shake Hands With the Devil"

And while fans admire his wit, the performer freely admits, "I don't know that if I could compare to Oscar Wilde."

The comic actor is one of several honorees at the 12th annual Oscar Wilde Awards, put on by the U.S.-Ireland Alliance to celebrate Irish contributions to entertainment, and hosted by J.J. Abrams on Feb. 26 at his Bad Robot headquarters.

The class of 2017 consists of Short, "Outlander" star Caitriona Balfe, Zachary Quinto, Irish folk-rock singer Glen Hansard, and "Loving" actress Ruth Negga.

What is the common link for this cluster of actors, singers and comedians? They are all, at least in some part, Irish.

As a result, they have inherited a penchant for storytelling, which Balfe says is rooted deep in Irish culture.

"I grew up in the Irish countryside, but there's such an amazing tradition in Ireland of storytelling, and even though my dad was a policeman, he and his friends used to put on plays and sketches, so it was something that I was surrounded by all my childhood, and it was always something that I wanted to do," she says.

Although the star of Starz's "Outlander," filming its third season, grew up in a local theater milieu, she admits she took a less-trodden path for Irish actors in heading to the U.S.

Balfe's first film role was in "The Devil Wears Prada" where only her ankle was shown. The rest of her appeared in J.J. Abrams' sci-fi thriller "Super 8"

"J.J. gave me my first job in the U.S., so it's quite a nice full circle event to be a part of" Balfe says of the honor. "It was quite a small role, I played a mom in flashbacks, but for my first job it was such a big thing, and I remember going down to Virginia and meeting J.J. and we chatted for a few hours. He's such an interesting guy, and he was telling me about how he started filmmaking when he was a kid"

Balfe isn't the only one on this year's Oscar Wilde honorees list to get

a first big film break in an Abrams movie. …

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