Page last updated at 11:10 GMT, Monday, 22 March 2010

Welsh actors triumph at Olivier awards

Aneurin Barnard and Iwan Rheon. Photos  Helen Maybanks
Aneurin Barnard and Iwan Rheon starred in Spring Awakening

Two young actors have "flown the flag for Wales" at the Laurence Olivier Awards, picking up prestigious awards.

Aneurin Barnard, 23, from Ogmore Vale in Bridgend, won the best actor in a musical or entertainment category for his role in Spring Awakening.

Iwan Rheon, 24, from Cardiff, who also starred in the West End cult show, picked up the best supporting performance in a musical honour.

Barnard said the Welsh presence at the London awards was "fantastic".

"We were so chuffed," he said.

"I mentioned in my speech last night that just to have two lads in their 20s from Wales winning awards together in London is fantastic and it's really great that we have got the opportunity to fly the flag."

The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama graduate was up against a host of more seasoned actors in his category, including Rowan Atkinson for his role as Fagin in Oliver! and Bob Golding for Morecambe.

I knew what I wanted to do from the age of 14 so I knew that I wanted to go to drama school when I was 18
Aneurin Barnard

Barnard said it was "very strange" to win in a category in which he felt he had "no hope".

But he said he believed his early success was due to the support of his parents.

"They really have put a good work ethic into my mind from a young age," he said.

"And I knew what I wanted to do from the age of 14 so I knew that I wanted to go to drama school when I was 18.

"So really it was just doing as much as I could until I was of the age to go to drama school and then I went to the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff.

"I went straight into Spring Awakening actually and I have been loving every day since."

Barnard, who was a member of the Bridgend Youth Theatre while growing up, will next appear in the forthcoming medieval action film Ironclad with a host of British actors including James Purefoy, Derek Jacobi and Brian Cox.

The musical Spring Awakening, a musical adaptation of German playwright Frank Wedekind's controversial play, in which he played Melchior Gabor, also won best new musical for its run at the Novello Theatre.

Rheon, who appeared in the Welsh soap opera Pobol Y Cwm and E4 hit Misfits and trained at London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (Lamda), won his award for his role as Moritz Stiefel.

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