A COUNTY Tyrone actor who gained a starring role alongside Hollywood A-listers Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway in critically acclaimed musical movie Les Misérables, has spoken of his family’s pride after seeing him on the big screen for a local premiere.
Fra Fee, who is from Dungannon but now based in London, flew home for the special screening at a cinema in Cookstown on Friday.
Following an outing to the London premiere with his sister in December, Fra said he was delighted to be able to accompany his whole family to the homecoming viewing.
“My friends and family loved it - it was so special for them,” he told the News Letter. “Because I saw the movie on December 5, I felt my family had to wait so long until the general release, but it was certainly worth the wait. I’m so glad I was able to come home and share the experience with them.”
Speaking of the London screening, the 26-year-old said it was an extraordinary experience.
“The premiere was amazing - very surreal,” he said. “Apart from anything else, I was just so excited to see the movie and see my part of the story in the context of the whole thing.”
And the reality of seeing Fra on the silver screen was an emotional one for the star’s sister.
Fra said: “I brought along my eldest sister Mairead, but unfortunately forgot to take tissues - she was bawling!”
Les Misérables is set against the backdrop of revolution in nineteenth century France and follows the story of prisoner (Hugh Jackman), hunted down by a ruthless police officer (Russell Crowe), who eventually meets mum and factory worker (Anne Hathaway) and agrees to care for her child.
Fra’s character Courfeyrac is one of the revolutionary students, right-hand man to leader Enjolras and friend of the young street urchin Gavroche.
The University of Manchester graduate, who has a diploma in musical theatre from the Royal Academy of Music in London, credits his dad Frank for introducing him to acting at an early age.
“My love of the theatre was brought upon by my dad, Frank,” he said. “He’s a force to be reckoned with in the local amateur circuit and can still be seen gracing the local Bardic (Donaghmore) and CRAIC (Coalisland) stages. My first show at home was as Kurt in the Sound of Music with CRAIC. I did a few shows with them and Bardic - so I had the performing bug at an early age!”
Working on his first big-screen film was an eye-opener, said Fra, who was previously used to stage work.
“The entire experience shooting the film was just incredible,” he said. “I worked closely with Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman. Getting to work with actors who are so brilliant in their own craft of screen work was an amazing learning experience. On screen acting is so very different to performing onstage so to see these fine screen actors at work was just brilliant.”
And working with big-screen professionals is something Fra said has helped him tremendously in learning his craft.
“I also admired Eddie Redmayne, a really fine young British actor with a beautiful singing voice as well,” he said.
“I learned a lot from him - a very intelligent performer. Most of the shooting was at the legendary Pinewood studios just outside London but we also spent a week shooting the ‘Do You Hear the people sing?’ scene at the Old Naval Buildings in Greenwich, London. I spent roughly six weeks filming.”
Fra, who previously starred in Dirty Dancing the musical on the West End and is currently preparing a role in A Man of No Importance in the Salisbury Playhouse, said he hopes the future will be bright.
“I’d love to do more screen work,” he said. “I’ll have to wait and see what’s in store.”