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'I truly feel a real love and affinity to Celtic people and culture' - George MacKay talks channelling Irish roots to play legendary outlaw Ned Kelly

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George MacKay is the most convincing Kelly yet

George MacKay is the most convincing Kelly yet

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George MacKay is the most convincing Kelly yet

Is George MacKay the nicest young man in cinema? Minutes before I’m due to sit down with the 27-year-old Londoner at Dublin’s Merrion Hotel, a handful of colleagues and PR professionals who’ve already met the lad, wonder what it is about the star of Sam Mendes’s sensational, Oscar-winning war epic, 1917, that makes him so darn lovely.

Perhaps, they say, it has something to do with MacKay – a long-time supporting actor-turned-hotly-tipped-leading man – being new to the spotlight. Or, maybe he’s just one of the good guys. It could be both. Whatever the case, MacKay – a lean, smartly-dressed and boyishly handsome Hammersmith kid – is, once again, front and centre of another acclaimed thriller, taking the lead in Justin Kurzel’s punkish retelling of the Ned Kelly legend, True History of the Kelly Gang. Thankfully, even after months on the campaign trail with Mendes and Co, MacKay is still in flying form.

“It’s funny, the last three months has all been 1917, which is just, like, another level of press junkets,” he explains, “so it kind of feels like the perspective has shifted.”