Colin Farrell has praised Dunkirk actor Barry Keoghan for overcoming “insurmountable” difficulties, as he presented him with an award in Los Angeles.
The rising star, who played George Mills in the Oscar-nominated film, was handed an Oscar Wilde Award alongside Mark Hamill, who followed in the footsteps of his late friend Carrie Fisher to collect the honour.
The awards, held by the US-Ireland Alliance on Wednesday, recognise the contributions of Irish people in film, television and music, as well as those with a connection to Ireland.
Farrell praised the 25-year-old Dubliner for excelling despite experiencing “desolation” that Farrell said he himself would not be able to overcome.
Keoghan, who is nominated for a Film Independent Spirit Award for his work alongside Farrell in The Killing Of A Sacred Deer, has discussed growing up in foster care and his mother’s death from heroin.
Farrell said: “It’s really incredible what he has achieved in a few years. Anyone who knows Barry can testify to the fact that he has gone through a certain amount of experience in his own personal life.
“He has experienced a certain amount of desolation in his personal life, in his past, things that I would find in my contemplation of such loss, completely insurmountable.”
Speaking on the “green carpet” ahead of the ceremony, Hamill said the honour had extra significance because he had accompanied his Star Wars co-star Fisher to receive the same award in 2015.
“Her speech was, of course, hilarious,” he told the Press Association. “I can’t touch her in that regard, but I’ll try and be more coherent.”
Hamill said his paternal family is Irish and he has filmed at various locations on the island, including at Skellig Michael for The Last Jedi.
Also presented with awards were Paula Malcomson, who starred in US series Ray Donovan, and Home Alone actress Catherine O’Hara.
Malcomson, who left Dublin for the States during The Troubles with just “£27 in my pocket that I borrowed from my granny”, made an impassioned speech about immigration in the US which allowed her to live the “American dream”.
“This country took in an 18-year-old girl. It wrapped its arms around her and handed her a better life,” she said.
“I only hope the American dream is available for those who reach out and grab it the way I did, but I’m not so sure right now.”
The 13th annual ceremony was hosted by director JJ Abrams at the complex of his production company, Bad Robot, in Santa Monica.