The Next James Dean?

John-Joe McNeill is a star on the rise

John-Joe McNeill was an ordinary schoolboy, preparing for his Transfer test when he was plucked from the boredom of everyday life and turned into an overnight film sensation.

He played a lead role in the movie Mickybo and Me, a tale about two young boys during the Troubles who strike up an unlikely friendship despite being from opposite sides of the religious divide. Not only has he starred in this box-office hit, he also recently starred in The Rocky Monster Show at St Patrick's College 50th birthday bash, acted in a short film and was selected, along with his Mickybo and Me co-star Niall Wright, to become the face of  Ulster Bank. So will he become the face of the next generation of film stars? Watch this space!

How did you get the part of Mickybo?

'I was actually sitting in school and doing the 11+ when the Director saw me, and just came over, looking at me. The next day, Mr Donnelly (my principal) called me out and told me that I was selected to go for auditions for a movie called Mickybo. Weeks later, I didn't think that I got the part, but they phoned me and told me that I had.'

What did you feel like when you heard that you had got the part? Did the thought of being famous scare you?

'Kind of, yeah; it was just shocking, it was sweet like, but I was thinking to myself, "What happens in the future?" Then I was having all these wee girls trying to go out with me. But it was a brilliant experience.'

Is fame really all its cracked up to be? Like, have you ever had a mob of screaming girls chase you down the street?

'No, not actually chasing me, but asking me out. Fame isn't all its cracked up to be; getting up at six o' clock in the morning and not getting into bed until one or two o' clock the next morning; and it really gets in the way of your life; because you're always doing interviews and stuff; no offence!'

Did you get to perform any of your own stunts? Were they really scary?

'Actually they had a stunt crew on set but they weren't really needed, except for the scene when I get kicked off a horse. But other stunts-jumping off the Barn and jumping into the sea (which Niall Wright, my co-star, made me do) I performed myself.'

Lyra McKee

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