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Screen Glory: Armagh actor’s second cinema smash!

AN Armagh-born actor’s second feature film to hit the big screen in just weeks will get its premiere in Derry this weekend.

Richard Dormer stars in ‘Jump’, alongside Fermanagh-born Ciaran McMenamin, which gets it release less than a month after ‘Good Vibrations’, in which he played record store owner and producer Terri Hooley.

Originally from Armagh, where he still has many friends, he was bitten by the acting bug as a 16-year-old taking drama at Friends School in Lisburn, and made his first big impact back in 2002, when he wrote and starred in Hurricane – a stage play about Belfast snooker star Alex Higgins.

The RADA-trained actor (43) dazzled audiences and critics, including the BBC’s Mark Kermode, with his portrayal of Belfast punk legend Terri Hooley in Good Vibrations, released last month and for which he was nominated for best actor in the 2013 Irish Film and Theatre Awards.

It is a movie which has has been described as possibly the best movie to come out of Northern Ireland, and it also stars former Keady actor Michael Colgan.

Now Richard is back on cinema screens in the drama ‘Jump’ which premieres in Londonderry tonight (Friday), April 19, ahead of its general release a week later.

Filmed in Derry, it is based on the original stage play by local writer Lisa McGee, and will premiere this at the Brunswick Moviebowl. 

‘Jump’ follows the lives of four 20 somethings whose lives collide one fateful New Year’s Eve amidst the ancient Walls of Derry, in a night of fast talk, co-incidence and intrigue.

The unseen yet crucial occurrence of this tale is the strange disappearance of Eddie Kelly, which hangs over the city like a dark cloud. Kelly’s ‘disappearance’ at the hands of crime boss Frank Feeney’s men links our four main characters, triggering a sequence of events which ultimately has life changing consequences for each of them.

Feeney’s daughter Greta is severely depressed and is intent on taking her own life. Pearse is on a mission to get answers about his missing brother, Eddie and will stop at nothing until he gets to the truth. Johnny, a small time crook who works for Feeney, and Marie, a frustrated shop assistant, are both looking for a fresh start.

Greta and Pearse meet each other in extraordinary circumstances on a bridge overlooking the city. Greta is there to jump and Pearse has been beaten and dangled off the bridge by Feeney’s henchmen for asking difficult questions about his brother’s disappearance. In their short, magnetic time together they become kindred spirits on the cusp of love before fate and circumstance take over.

A wayward corpse and the busy intrigue of New Year’s Eve all compose the jigsaw puzzle of this out of sequence, multi-stranded story. And as the night’s events expertly fall into place, ‘Jump’ weaves an existential portrait of our characters’ lives as their hopes, fears and secrets are revealed.

Described as a “modern day ‘Brief Encounter’”, the film is directed by Kieron J. Walsh.

According to Richard Dormer – whose earlier acting credits include journalist Chris Moore in a controversial drama about paedophile priest Fr Brendan Smyth – things could not be better right now.

“Jump was great fun,” he commented. “There is lots of twisty storytelling and I got to work with a great team.”

He added: “I am also delighted with the success of Good Vibrations. We knew we were on to something special when we were filming it, but had no idea people would respond so well.”

Dormer counts Daniel Day-Lewis, Joaquin Phoenix and Jeff Bridges among his acting influences and generally splits his time between Belfast, London and Perth in Scotland, where his wife Rachel O’Riordan is artistic director at Perth Theatre.

He is treading the boards at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin until May 11 in the gangster thriller Drum Belly, which he also wrote, and will be on TV this Monday in the latest episode of global hit Game Of Thrones, which has been on shot on location in Northern Ireland previously, including at Gosford Park outside Markethill.

Dormer plays Beric Dondarrion in the popular HBO fantasy series, which is produced in Belfast and which airs on Sky Atlantic.

“I play a kick-ass one-eyed warrior with a flaming sword,” he said. “I am the only one with a flaming sword, so I’m quite chuffed about that.”

Next on the cards is a new movie called ’71, about a British soldier getting lost in West Belfast at the height of The Troubles.

“It’s a brilliant script,” he said. “I play a kindly resident; my character is essentially a good man trying to do the right thing.”

‘Jump’ goes on general release next Friday, April 26.

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