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Irish stars out at the Oscar Wilde Awards in California

Irish stars were out in force at the Oscar Wilde Awards in Santa Monica, California, last night as the US-Ireland Alliance’s annual pre-Oscars event honoured Pierce Brosnan, special effects Oscar winner Richard Baneham, and Irish-American actress Molly Shannon.

Supported by Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland and Northern Ireland Screen, the Oscar Wilde Awards have become a fixture in the pre-Oscars build-up. The annual ceremony celebrates the contribution Ireland makes to film, television, and music.

Navan man Brosnan was honoured for his “rich and extensive career” at the ceremony, which took place at Bad Robot, the production company of director JJ Abrams and producer Katie McGrath. Brosnan was joined by his wife, the journalist and author Keely Shaye Smith, on the green carpet.

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“It’s a wonderful celebration,” the Bond star told RTÉ’s Washington Correspondent Seán Whelan. “I didn’t realise there were so many Irish in Los Angeles, to tell you the truth!”

“America has been great to me,” he continued. “I came here in ’82 on a wing and a prayer, got a job called Remington Steele – and I stayed!”

Pierce Brosnan and Keely Shaye Smith

Brosnan described the night as “a lovely warm-up to the Oscars”.

Dubliner Baneham, a two-time Oscar winner for his work on James Cameron’s Avatar and its sequel, was honoured for his remarkable work in the special effects industry and his role in inspiring young Irish filmmakers. Director Cameron presented Baneham with his award.

Richie Baneham and James Cameron

Baneham enthused about the “green wave” at the Oscars and in Hollywood.

“It’s lovely to see it continuing,” he said, “particularly with Cillian [Murphy] being nominated – hopefully winning!”

“Let’s hope there’s a couple of golden trophies headed back to Ireland!” he added.

Baneham’s fellow honouree Molly Shannon said she had “really recently got into my Irish heritage”.

“I did a show called Who Do You Think You Are?” that Lisa Kudrow produced, she explained. “I learned so much, it really just blew me away… I feel so proud to be Irish.”

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Also among the guests were Oppenheimer Oscar nominee Cillian Murphy, his fellow actor Jane Seymour, and singer Samantha Mumba.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Washington Correspondent Seán Whelan on the green carpet, Murphy said it was great to see so many Irish doing so well in Hollywood and that he was looking forward to a “busy night” of catching up with people ahead of the Academy Awards.

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Irish eyes now turn to the Oscars on Sunday night with Best Actor favourite Murphy joined by his fellow Irish nominees, Poor Things‘ producers Ed Guiney and Andrew Lowe from the Dublin-based Element Pictures, and the dark fantasy’s cinematographer, Robbie Ryan.

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