Proud parents join the celebrations
THE parents of Irish Oscar winner Richard Baneham last night spoke of their pride as their son triumphed at the red-carpet awards ceremony.
Michael and Noeleen Baneham were present at Hollywood's famous Kodak Theatre to witness Richard's stunning success first hand.
Speaking afterwards, the proud parents said they were literally on the edge of their seats as he was named the winner in the Best Visual Effects Oscar for his work on the science fiction blockbuster 'Avatar'.
"Oh my God, we held our breath. It was like being in a film. We had real doubts only because of the politics that was going on between the films. It was fantastic when his name was read out," Noeleen told the Irish Independent.
The couple, from Tallaght, Dublin, earlier rubbed shoulders with some of the biggest names in Tinseltown as they joined their son on the red carpet. "It was like walking into a different world. There was every famous person you could think of. Barbra Streisand, Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Bridges, George Clooney. Matt Damon shook our hand and when he heard our Irish accents, asked us where we were from? We met him afterwards and he told us he was delighted that Richard had won in his category," Mr Baneham said.
After the ceremony they joined Richard in the nearby Dillion's Irish bar for a party with the rest of this year's record number of Irish Oscar nominees.
The celebrations continued well into early hours.
"We've been partying solidly now for 12 hours but if I died tomorrow, it would be well worth it. It's sensational to see your own kid get up there and be presented with an Oscar. It's the greatest thing that has happened in our lives," Mr Baneham added.
Richard also told of his inner turmoil as he waited for '300' actor Gerard Butler to announce the winner in his category.
"Gerard Butler was a bit of a b****cks, the way he dragged it out. I know him well and he is a bad, bad man," Richard joked.
"But when the envelope is read out, you hope for the best. It didn't seem real until I handed the Oscar over to my wife and she thought it weighed a tonne." Despite the Irishman's success, 'Avatar' lost out in other categories to rival film, Iraq War drama 'The Hurt Locker'.
Richard described the Oscar rivalry between 'Avatar' and 'The Hurt Locker' as "a David and Goliath situation".
He added: "It's hard to win if you're Goliath. That and the political climate at the moment. We didn't win Best Picture but instead our win is the millions of cinemagoers around the world who have seen this film."
Richard, who trained in Ballyfermot College and now works on some of the world's biggest movie productions in Los Angeles, said the honour did not hit home until after the ceremony.
"It's an incredibly surreal moment," he added.
"The strange thing is it's kind of a serene feeling in this weird way to be finally handed the trophy.
"It does not feel real in any way, until you have come through the press and done all that and walked away and handed the piece to your wife and say, 'Here, what do you think of that?'"