'Belfast' Star Jude Hill on His Star-Studded Awards Season and Marvel Dreams (Exclusive)

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In in Oscar-nominated Belfast, director Kenneth Branagh is telling his most personal story yet, about a young boy and his family living in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in the 1960s, at the beginning of the period known as "The Troubles," in which division between factions of Catholics/nationalists and Protestants/unionists led to violent clashes, riots and bombings. 

Branagh, who grew up in Belfast, before moving away at age 9 to escape The Troubles, found his star for the film in 11-year-old Jude Hill, who plays Buddy, a wide-eyed, fun-loving character based on the director and screenwriter himself. Belfast is seen through Buddy's eyes -- and Hill marveled about seeing his face on a massive Hollywood billboard when he joined ET's Denny Directo for an in-studio chat this week.

"It's kind of crazy," the young actor admitted. "I mean, my face, and a bunch of people seeing it every single day. It's pretty, pretty crazy. It's very cool."

Belfast is Hill's first feature film role, so it's an extra thrill that the movie has scored critical acclaim as well as several nominations and big wins this awards season. So far, the young star has won the award Best Young Actor/Actress at the 2022 Critics' Choice Awards and the Newcomer Award from the Hollywood Critics Association, among others.

"It's pretty crazy that I'm here on my first job, and I'm going to try to keep it going, try to stay on the actor lifestyle," Hill shared with ET.

jude hill belfast

Jude Hill in 'Belfast'

Universal Pictures

At this Sunday's Academy Awards, Belfast is nominated for Best Picture, and Ciarán Hinds and Dame Judi Dench, who play Buddy's grandparents, each earned nods in the supporting acting categories.

"Working with Judi Dench was such an honor," Hill noted, adding with a laugh, "She's funny. She's inappropriate... a lot of dirty jokes."

The cast was also lauded with Best Acting Ensemble at the Critics' Choice Awards, and Belfast won Outstanding British Film at the 2022 BAFTAs, which has meant a lot of star-studded moments during Hill's first red carpet season.

"At the [Critics' Choice Awards], I was in the room with some of the most famous people on the planet, and it took everything to keep the flood down," he shared, noting that the favorite celeb he's met so far is Andrew Garfield.

"It just happened so quickly," Hill recalled. "I mean, we were on the red carpet, and someone tapped me on my shoulder and pointed over and there he was. And then he saw me and he was like, 'Hey, what's up man?' And I was just like, 'Hi.'"

jude hill andrew garfield
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Critics Choice Association

"I had such a dizzy feeling after," he added. "I'm a massive Spider-Man fan... and he was amazing as Jonathan Larson in tick, tick, Boom!"

For now, Hill is content to enjoy the rest of awards season in Los Angeles with his family, noting that his siblings are "in the pool every day." But what's next for the young actor? 

"I do sing. I do musical theater," Hill said, noting that he also recently got a chance to brush elbows with Lin-Manuel Miranda, which was a thrill. "I'm a massive Hamilton fan, honestly. I know half the songs by heart."

However, for a dream project, the young star is looking to something a bit more super-sized.

"I love Marvel, Star Wars, DC, all this superhero stuff," he shared. "Because when you're watching it, you just think in the back of your head, 'How cool would it be to be doing that?' Beating up bad guys, using superpowers or whatever. Just the idea of it just thrills me."

The 2022 Oscars air live on Sunday, March 27 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on ABC. In the meantime, stay tuned to ETonline.com for complete Oscars coverage.

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