• Golden Globe Awards

Nominee Profile 2022: Ciarán Hinds, “Belfast”

Ciarán Hinds grew up about half a mile from Kenneth Branagh’s childhood home in Belfast. Thus, when he read Branagh’s semi-autobiographical coming of age story based on memories from a childhood spent in those familiar streets, he connected to it instantly.
Kenneth Branagh’s depiction of the Northern Ireland he knew as a young man resonated with Ciarán Hinds on several levels, despite the age gap between the two. Golden Globe nominee Branagh was born in 1960, Hinds in 1953. That is: young adult Ciarán was 16 years old in 1969 when the film is set. He experienced the social and political tumult of his city, also referred to as The Troubles, with a more mature eye. That was not the only big difference. Kenneth Branagh was brought up as a Protestant, Ciarán Hinds as Catholic. Their experiences of the conflict had different points of view.
Belfast is seen from the perspective of the 9-year-old boy Buddy (Jude Hill) but also sheds a light on the hardship that the grown-ups go through to protect him. One of them is Ciarán Hinds’ character Pop, the boy’s grandfather, a role that has earned him his first-ever Golden Globe nomination as Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture. Judi Dench plays his wife, Buddy’s loving grandmother who, along with Pop, keeps it all together in a world falling apart.
“We had never met,” said Ciarán Hinds about his 86-year-old co-star Golden Globe winner Judi Dench. “She is such a dynamo. Her instinct is extraordinary… I know Ken knows her. They’ve worked together so long. But for us, to begin to believe that we already had 50 years of marriage, the preparation was very quick.”
Golden Globe nominees Caitriona Balfe and Golden Globe nominee Jamie Dornan play Buddy’s parents, Ma and Pa. Director Kenneth Branagh insisted that the cast, who are the focus as a very tight-knit family and the center of Buddy’s world, get to know each other before shooting the film. He made sure they all connected by talking about their experiences when they were young.
“Within an hour of us all meeting each other, at four ends of our very wide, long day, we kind of all knew each other’s childhoods,” says Ciarán Hinds, who had not collaborated with his fellow countryman, Kenneth Branagh, before being cast in Belfast. “Therefore, we were open enough to know where we all came from.”
Kenneth Branagh left Belfast as a young boy and his movie is, to some extent, the story of how this came about. The film is a dedication to the people of the city, whether they were Protestant or Catholic or neither. It remembers those who stayed, those who left, and those who were lost in the violence.
Ciarán Hinds was one who left Belfast. He went on to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, in London. Years after leaving his country in 1976, he said: “My feet always danced to traditional Irish music, but I was very happy to get out of Northern Ireland in the mid-1970s when it was really closed and tight and relentlessly unforgiving.”
A lot has happened in Belfast and all of Northern Ireland since those fearful days. This is what the actor said about the peace process that started in 1997 and the progress achieved since The Troubles.
“Now we’re 24 years on down the line and there’s still a lot of work to do. There’s still a lot of work to do. We recognize that. There are a lot of good people at home, a lot of good people still working to heal the divisions and go out into the different communities and get them together. But this riff runs deep. And, so, the only hope is that we can keep pushing forward with positive agendas and keep trying to connect.”
Ciarán Hinds has appeared in a large number of films such as Roger Mitchel’s Persuasion (1995), Steven Spielberg’s Munich (2005), Martin Scorsese’s Silence (2016), Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood (2007), Michael Mann’s Miami Vice (2006) and Sam Mendes’ Road to Perdition (2002). The actor might be, possibly, mostly known for his meticulous work in gigantic hits such as Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, and Justice League. He is married to actress Helene Patarot. The couple has one daughter, actress Aoife Hinds.