Northern Ireland

Geraldine Hughes plays 24 characters in latest venture

Geraldine Hughes Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ms Hughes grew up in west Belfast in the 1970s and 1980s before leaving for the USA to pursue an acting career.

She has starred on screen alongside some of Hollywood's A-list, including Clint Eastwood and Sylvester Stallone.

But Geraldine Hughes is also an accomplished theatre performer and playwright.

And it is in those roles that she is set to return to the Belfast stage.

She will be performing her one-woman show, Belfast Blues, at the Lyric theatre in the city in August as part of Feile an Phobail.

Ms Hughes grew up in west Belfast in the 1970s and 1980s, before leaving for the USA to pursue an acting career.

Belfast Blues is based on her childhood experiences, and she plays all 24 characters in it.

Image caption Geraldine will perform 'Belfast Blues' at the lyric theatre between 6-11 August

"It covers the first 18 years of my life growing up in the time of the Troubles," she said.

"However, it's filled with a lot of humour and I think it's an important story because it's now historical and a reflection of how it was to be a child during that time, and how children lived and tried to survive."

Her most recent stage role was as Prof Minerva McGonagall in the Broadway production of J.K Rowling's Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

Belfast-born Anthony Boyle also has a lead part in the play, which has been a huge hit.

Her film roles have included the part of Marie in Rocky Balboa alongside Sylvester Stallone and the daughter-in-law of Clint Eastwood's character in Gran Torino.

'Extraordinary experiences'

"I'm maybe unusual in the sense that I don't get terribly awed or overwhelmed by people because they happen to be famous," she said.

"I get overwhelmed when I met President Obama - but I have had extraordinary experiences.

"I haven't done a lot of film but, when I do work in film and television, I tend to work with extraordinary people so I'm really lucky when it comes to that."

Clint Eastwood was the director of Gran Torino as well as the star.

It told the story of an embittered Korean war veteran in Detroit, played by Eastwood, who eventually befriends his Asian neighbours.

Ms Hughes played his daughter-in-law Karen Kowalski.

"He's a gentle, quiet person to lead a film," she recalled. "It's a very quiet set and he works very, very quickly.

Image caption Ms Hughes told the BBC News NI that she thinks integrated education in Northern Ireland is "really important"

"There's no fuss and no drama and I loved that about him."

Although Ms Hughes has lived in the USA for most of her adult life, she returns to Northern Ireland regularly to visit family and friends.

She is glad that the Northern Ireland of today is different to the country she grew up in but there is still one change she would like to see.

"I'm a patron of integrated education, I think that's a really, really important aspect," she said.

"I think that kids should be educated together."

Geraldine Hughes performs Belfast Blues in conjunction with Brassneck Theatre Company at the Lyric Theatre on 6-11 August.

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