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Julia Roberts Honors Paul Rudd at Sixth Annual “Oscar Wilde: Honoring The Irish in Film”

February 25, 2011


John and Ros Hubbard and Sarah Bolger honored

Click here for photos

Julia Roberts surprised 350 guests at the Ebell of Los Angeles when she turned up this evening to present Paul Rudd with his award as the ‘Honorary Irishman’ at the US-Ireland Alliance’s Oscar Wilde: Honoring the Irish in Film event. One never knows who is going to turn up at the popular, casual party that saw Tom Cruise honor J.J. Abrams last year and Kate Winslet honor her CAA agent and friend, Hylda Queally, the year before.

In addition to Rudd, casting agents Ros and John Hubbard were honored with anOscar Wilde. Sarah Bolger was the recipient of the Wilde Card, the award that recognizes emerging talent in film. Queally introduced her client who accepted by video as Bolger is in Pittsburgh filming a Fox pilot, Locke and Key. American Airlines, Culture Ireland and the Irish Film Board sponsored the sixth annual pre- Academy Awards party.

In 2006, Roberts co-starred on Broadway with Rudd and Bradley Cooper in Richard Greenberg’s play Three Days of Rain. She has visited Ireland several times, including in 1996 to film Neil Jordan’s Michael Collins, with Liam Neeson and Aidan Quinn.

Roberts joked about the suitability of Rudd getting the award before her: “Maybe I can become Irish – my middle name is Fiona, which is a step closer to being Irish than Paul Rudd was five minutes ago.” She also noted the wisdom of the selection of the honorary Irishman saying, “So Yeats, Fungi the Dolphin and U2 are not enough, you want Paul Rudd too!”

Rudd said he wanted to be Irish after seeing the Pogues. He told a moving story about his visits to Ireland with his father and that when his father died recently, they spread his ashes in Ireland: “It sounds crazy but, we were bringing him home. To feel part of this group (the Irish) – what this would have meant to my dad. It would have made him Irish too.” There were gasps in the audience when he told everyone that today happened to be his father’s birthday and said “I am so grateful, I’m honored, I’m humbled, and I’m Irish.”

Hylda Queally remarked on Sarah’s talent as an actor even from her earliest days. In a lighter moment, she noted how Sarah visits Sprinkles Cupcakes after every audition because it brings her good luck. In Sarah’s taped acceptance she raved about the quality of people in the film industry of Ireland.

Ros and John Hubbard, riffing on the fact that JJ Abrams, Jim Brooks and Paul Rudd are all Jewish noted: “I’ve long believed that Ireland is a lost tribe from Israel, but they got into the drink and stayed there.”

Emcee Donal Logue noted that Bali saw a significant increase in tourism thanks to Ms. Roberts and the book/film Eat, Pray, Love. In a pitch to boost tourism for Ireland’s beleaguered economy, Logue suggested that the book’s author, Elizabeth Gilbert, should next travel to Ireland and write a book that would become a film which Roberts would star in and J.J. Abrams, a former honoree who was also in attendance, could produce. Logue said that while Javier Bardem (who starred in Eat Pray Love) “is an absolutely brilliant actor, there is no way even he can pull off being an Irishman.” He joked that he had discussed this with Bardem and they agreed that Logue would play Roberts’ love interest in the Irish version of the film, which might be titled Drink, Pray Love.

US-Ireland Alliance president Trina Vargo had more than the Roberts surprise up her sleeve. The Hubbards, who had cast the iconic film, The Commitments, 20 years ago, were surprised with a video from Dublin where the cast members began rehearsals this week for a few reunion performances in Ireland next month. The audience was treated to the band’s first performance of Mustang Sally in 20 years. Maria Doyle Kennedy, who had also been cast by the Hubbards in the film, was at the Ebell to perform songs from her new album Sing. Maria is currently seen in the hit television series Dexter.

Also in attendance were: Belfast-born director Michael Creagh, whose short film, The Crush, is nominated for an Academy Award in the Short Film (Live Action) category; Lance Daly, whose film, Kisses, is nominated for an Independent Spirit Award in the Best Foreign Film category; animator Richie Baneham, who won an Academy Award forAvatar last year; and Emmy Award winning costume designer Joan Bergin.

Studio execs are regulars at the event, including former Walt Disney Studios Chairman Dick Cook. Others in attendance included John Hamm, Stellan and Gustaf Skarsgard, Orlando Bloom, Molly Ringwald, Richard Schiff, Rhys Ifans, James Frain, Gilles Marini, Peter Gallagher, and Anna Friel. Academy Award nominee Karen O’Hara who is nominated this year for Production Design for Alice in Wonderland was also on hand.

Irish author Cecelia Ahern and Irish actors Brian F. O’Byrne, Elaine Cassidy, Victoria Smurfit, Samantha Mumba, Sonya Macari & singer Colin Devlin were also enjoying the festivities. Irish model, Faye Dinsmore, accompanied Irish techy Paddy Cosgrave. Jonathan Loughran represented the Irish Film Board and Eugene Downes was on hand to promote Imagine Ireland, a year-long celebration of Irish arts across America.

Kensington Caterers, owned by Irishman Richard Mooney, once again provided amazing food. Last year, the White House consulted with Mooney on its St. Patrick’s Day party after learning of his popular creations for the Oscar Wilde event. Jameson put on a special whiskey-tasting bar and guests were treated to a taste of Ireland thanks to Guinness, Harp, Kerrygold, La Brea Bakery, Food America and Lily O’Briens. The Oscar Wilde awards are an exclusive design by renowned Irish glassblower, Simon Pearce. Fox provided dvds of The Commitments for guests.