Comedian Patrick Kielty has described Northern Ireland as a place where people “care for each other”, before he started his first acting role in a feature film.
e Co Down man stars in Ballywalter, which will have its world premiere in Belfast on Thursday.
The film – shot on location in the Ards Peninsula and Belfast – has Kielty playing Shane, who takes a weekly stand-up comedy class and develops a friendship with an unlucky taxi driver, played by Dublin-born Seana Kerslake .
The Dundrum comedian told BBC NI’s Good Morning Ulster that the Prasanna Puwanarajah-directed film tackles Northern Ireland’s difficult political context without ever overtly referring to it.
“You end up carrying a lot of stuff that you don’t think you’re carrying. You don’t think it has anything to do with where we come from or what we’ve been through,” Kielty said.
“Each character brings something to life here and what they have to go through.
“It’s not overtly political, but I think for a long time a lot of people here in Northern Ireland were disappointed and had to do it on their own, it’s a story of two people who can’t count on no one else. .
“Maybe when they find someone they say, ‘Oh, I’m not alone, maybe there’s someone who can help me.’
“The idea of you having a government in London telling the people of Northern Ireland that we need an election because Northern Ireland doesn’t have a functioning government, you kind of look at what’s going on goes to Westminster and you say: ‘Really, you can say that with a straight face?’
“We live in a society that is unfortunately becoming more and more polarized on many social issues and people are feeling more alone.
“I think Northern Ireland has always been very good as a place that has looked after others.
“We talk about our society is polarized. In many ways that’s true and in another way we’ve always been a society that cares about each other and I think this movie reflects who we are as a society.
“I feel what so many people think of Northern Ireland – if you look how far we’ve come…this place is surviving and thriving in many ways despite the politics.
“If you could actually imagine the energy of Northern Ireland, if it had functioning supporting politicians behind the people. Can you imagine how amazing we could be if we got it right?”
Ballywalter was written by Belfast-born screenwriter Stacey Gregg and is set to premiere at Cineworld in the city.
Speaking about the idea of watching his first acting role in a feature film, Kielty said he had “never been so nervous about anything in my life” and described it as ” creepy”.
“It was so out of my comfort zone every time they approached me and offered me the role, I honestly thought they were asking me to audition,” he added.
“I didn’t think it was real. When you walk onto my stage, you don’t really expect to be offered the lead role in a movie. It has been one of the most incredible adventures I have had.