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'Youth clubs shaped me': Hollywood actor Keoghan says inner-city support groups helped him in tough times

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Role model: Barry Keoghan at the launch of the 2020 Coca-Cola Thank You Fund in Dublin in February. Photo: Photocall Ireland

Role model: Barry Keoghan at the launch of the 2020 Coca-Cola Thank You Fund in Dublin in February. Photo: Photocall Ireland

Photocall Ireland

Role model: Barry Keoghan at the launch of the 2020 Coca-Cola Thank You Fund in Dublin in February. Photo: Photocall Ireland

Actor Barry Keoghan (27) is one of Ireland's most talented exports, co-starring in major movie projects with Hollywood stars like Nicole Kidman and Angelina Jolie.

But the down-to-earth star, who plays the villain in the new Marvel release 'The Eternals', says he owes all his success to the support he got growing up in Dublin's Summerhill.

Having come from a disadvantaged background in the north-inner city, he was raised by his grandmother Patricia (86) and his aunt Lorraine. Barry credits Neighbourhood Youth Project 2 and Belvedere Youth Club for helping him through some tough times when he was younger.

"I would go there every day, have a bit of food, play guitar and piano, watch a movie. The youth workers in there were just amazing, they were just really, really good. Any trouble I ever had, I could go in there and do my homework and get grinds," he told the Irish Independent.

"It was a place you could really relax and get a few hours out of the day. Some days they might bring you out go-karting. It's really important that these local projects have support and can continue to get help. For me, I look back and think that's what shaped me, these clubs."

Keoghan is currently working overseas on a new "top secret" project and feels very fortunate to be looking towards his next role when so many other creative projects have been shelved.

"It's in pre-production so I haven't landed into set yet; I'm just getting into the zone. I'm just preparing mentally for it," he said.

Having started off his promising acting career in 2013 as the notorious 'cat killer' in 'Love/Hate', his talent has seen him land some huge parts in the US.

Notable roles include his leading role in 'The Killing of a Sacred Deer' opposite Kidman and Colin Farrell, as well as landing a dream role as the villain Druig in the new Marvel blockbuster 'The Eternals.'

He joins an A-list cast that includes 'Game of Thrones' stars Kit Harington and Richard Madden, alongside Angelina Jolie, Gemma Chan and Salma Hayek.

The movie was originally due to come out this November but has now been pushed back to February 2021 due to the Covid-19 crisis.

His role is already attracting huge plaudits but when it comes to winning awards, the Bafta-nominee said he just tries to ignore the hype.

"I just go in and do the work and just try to keep my head straight and not get distracted by anything going on outside of it," he said.

"It's nice to get recognition, but awards and all that is the bonus end of things. The main thing is go in there and do your work."

He has just been named as the ambassador for the launch of the 2020 Coca-Cola Thank You Fund, which marked its 10th anniversary this year.

Supporting youth-orientated non-profit groups across Ireland, this year's fund sees €50,000 being made available to projects, with applications now open.

Irish Independent