Varadkar rubs shoulders with Hollywood stars as Ireland showcases its film industry
TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar rubbed shoulders with Hollywood stars at an exclusive dinner in Beverly Hills.
Irish cultural ambassador and Oscar nominee Ruth Negga, Downton Abbey Star Allen Leech, comedian Aisling Bea, and Mad Men actor Jared Harris were among those in attendance.
The event was held in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, famously the filming location for Julia Roberts smash-hit Pretty Woman.
The audience viewed a slick Screen Ireland presentation showcasing recent Irish film and TV successes like Brooklyn and Young Offenders.
The State Agency is to open an office in Los Angeles for the first time in more than a decade next year as it seeks to double the size of Ireland’s €1bn audio visual industry.
Mr Varadkar told those gathered he wants Ireland to be a "centre of excellence" for film and TV production.
The Taoiseach has been meeting movie and TV executives in New York and LA including NBC studios, Netflix and Hulu.
He said that Screen Ireland and Enterprise Ireland are building partnerships with companies like Disney and Apple.
Disney filmed two installments of the massive Star Wars saga in Ireland in recent years.
Mr Varadkar said that the agencies promoting the industry "are bringing Irish stories, Irish talent and Irish culture to millions of viewers around the world."
Screen Ireland’s chief executive Désirée Finnegan said Irish production companies "have built strong working relationships with the world’s leading studios, streaming platforms and production companies creating award winning film, television and animation content.
"There is significant potential for employment and turnover growth in the sector and strengthening our base in Los Angeles will support that mission."
Earlier in the evening Mr Varadkar opened a new Irish Consulate in Los Angeles in ceremonny attended by actor Fionnula Flanagan and the city’s mayor Eric Garcetti.