Actor JJ Murphy helped aid careers of Neeson, Branagh, and more: colleague

The funeral of veteran actor JJ Murphy took place at St Brigid's Church in Belfast
The funeral of veteran actor JJ Murphy took place at St Brigid's Church in Belfast

JJ Murphy’s mentoring of actors like Liam Neeson and Kenneth Branagh meant his influence spread far beyond his home Province, according to one long-time colleague.

Drew McFarlane, Northern Ireland secretary of actors’ trade union Equity, added his voice today to the raft of those praising the Belfast thespian, who died on Friday, August 8.

Mr Murphy had been 86, and was in the process of filming his new role in hit TV show Game of Thrones.

Mr McFarlane had attended his funeral on Wednesday in the city, along with an estimated 500-plus other mourners.

He said that he had ben among the cadre of actors who helped set up the lyric theatre, and worked there while some future stars were emerging.

He said: “He was a mentor for a whole raft of Northern Irish actors who have now left Northern Ireland, like Kenneth Branagh, like Liam Neeson”.

Mr Murphy would also have worked with Z-Cars star Jimmy Ellis, who died earlier this year.

Mr McFarlane, who knew JJ (Jimmy) Murphy for 23 years, added: “His legacy in terms of Northern Ireland was there are hundreds and hundreds of young actors who have relied on Jimmy’s experience, his advice and his guidance, and a lot of them wouldn’t be where they are today without that – that’s the bottom line.”

At the time of his death, the west Belfast man – who is understood to have later moved to the Malone area – was playing Ser Denys Mallister in Game of Thrones, which has proven to be among the most popular TV programmes in history.