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The BBC's David Sillito
"A feel good movie about a boy who defies convention"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 27 September, 2000, 22:22 GMT 23:22 UK
Star 'too young' for première
Jamie Bell, star of Billy Elliot
Jamie beat off competition from 2,000 young hopefuls
Young actor Jamie Bell attended the London première of his new film Billy Elliot - even though at 14 he is officially too young to be watching it.

Jamie Bell, 14, was only allowed to see Billy Elliot, which has a 15 certificate, because he plays the main part, a young northern lad who dreams of becoming a ballet dancer.

Arriving at the premiere for the film at the Empire Cinema in Leicester Square, he joked: "I just hope they don't send me back out the door."

The film has already had praise heaped on it by the critics, with many predicting it is will follow in the footsteps of recent British hits such as The Full Monty and Notting Hill.

Critical acclaim

Jamie beat off competition from more than 2,000 young hopefuls to land the role of Billy - a young boy growing up in the north-east of England during the 1984 miners' strike.

The film centres around Billy's dream to swap his boxing gloves for ballet shoes against the wishes of his recently widowed father and older brother, both frontline protesters in the 1984/5 miners' dispute.
Julie Walters and Jamie Bell
Julie Walters with Jamie at the London première

Guests at Wednesday's premiere of the BBC Films production included comedian Harry Enfield, newsreader Kirsty Young, actor Alan Rickman and Big Brother presenter Davina McCall.

But the occasion failed to faze young actor Jamie who, despite all the attention, denied he was a star.

He added: "I would not really say I was famous yet and I think fame is a bit fake although I wouldn't mind experiencing just a little bit of it."

Jamie also turned down speculation that he could be up for an award at next year's Oscars.

He added: "The only Oscar I believe in is my dog."

Walters' role

Playing Billy's dance teacher in the film is veteran actress Julie Walters, who called Jamie a "diamond in the sand".

She said: "It's a wonderful film and I jumped at the chance to appear in it when the director offered me the part.

Billy Elliot
Jamie plays a miner's son who wants to be a dancer
"But the only problem I could see was who was going to play Billy as he has to do everything including dancing and acting to a very high standard.

"Jamie managed that superbly."

British director Stephen Daldry took a break from his usual theatre work to direct his first feature film, following in the footsteps of Sam Mendes who won great acclaim after directing his own first full-length feature, American Beauty.

Daldry, back from a three-week tour of the United States where he has been promoting the film, said: "It was great doing a film and an experience I thoroughly enjoyed."

He said the film had gone down well in the US and even President Bill Clinton was reported to have seen it and enjoyed it.

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See also:

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