Northern Ireland news

Bill Nighy wears blue ribbon at Oscars in solidarity with displaced people

Kate Hudson poses for the cameras (Ashley Landis/AP)
Alex Green and Michael Bedigan, PA

Bill Nighy has walked the Oscars carpet wearing a blue ribbon to “commemorate” the millions of displaced people around the world.

The veteran British star, who is nominated for the first time at the ceremony for best actor, joined Cate Blanchett in wearing the ribbon made by refugees as part of an initiative from the United Nations refugee agency, the UNHCR.

Famous faces were invited to wear the ribbon as an “emblem of compassion and solidarity” for those who have been forced to flee their homes because of war, conflict and persecution.

Asked by Sky News about the Oscars reportedly wanting to avoid politics this year, Nighy said: “120 million people being displaced and children being in terrible distress, I don't think that is politics. And that is what this commemorates.

“It is a UN initiative. I wear it at the request of Cate Blanchett who wants to focus on that issue wherever we go publicly.”

Speaking about being nominated for best actor, he added: “It feels pretty good and from the film's point of view it is sensational. It means that millions of people now know about the film.

“It is our only way of travel. For an independent film like us this is the only way forward so it is an extremely desirable development.”

The biggest event in the showbusiness calendar sees Irish talent well represented this year, but up against stiff competition.

Nominees Brendan Fraser and Jamie Lee Curtis were among those arriving early to be greeted on the carpet which, in a departure from previous years, is the colour of champagne.

On the carpet, Elvis star Austin Butler, who is nominated for best actor, told Sky News he was “incredibly proud of everybody that worked on this film”.

He added: “I need some more time to be able to process it because we worked for so long. It is unlike any other film that I could ever imagine doing…because it was in the middle of Covid so we had this intense time where we all became a family.”

Asked about the possibility of winning an Oscar so early in his career, Butler, 31, said: “I am just happy to be here right now. I feel like this whole thing is a dream come true.”

Paul Mescal said he feels like he is on a “crazy train” after arriving at the event – where he is nominated for his first Academy Award.

The Irish star will take on Butler, Colin Farrell and his “idol” Fraser in the best actor category.

Asked on the carpet how he felt, he replied: “Like I'm on a crazy train right now and I haven't really caught my breath.”

Mescal recalled how Fraser had reached out to him following the nominations, adding: “Brendan is one of my idols and has been for a long, long time.

“So him reaching out… it was so unbelievable. He's just and incredibly generous man.”

Cast members from last year's best picture winner Coda – Marlee Matlin and Troy Kotsur – were also reunited on the carpet, and were joined by veteran actor James Hong.

Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai was also pictured arriving for the event, dressed in a shimmering silver gown.

The Banshees Of Inisherin has become the most Oscar-nominated Irish film ever, clocking up nine nominations ahead of Sunday's show.

The film's four main stars – Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan – have all received nods for acting awards.

But it faces strong challenges in all major categories – including the coveted best picture – by awards season juggernaut Everything Everywhere All At Once, which leads the field with 11 nominations.

The sci-fi epic, directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, recently swept top prizes at the Film Independent Spirit Awards and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards, marking it out as a clear frontrunner at the Oscars.

Its stars Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan are both hotly tipped for their respective categories of best actress and best supporting actor, respectively.

Yeoh takes on Blanchett for best actress, as well as Michelle Williams, Ana de Armas and Andrea Riseborough.

Lady Gaga is reportedly set to join fellow pop titan Rihanna in the performing line-up, after organisers previously said she would be unable to do so due to scheduling clashes.

Presenters include British stars Hugh Grant and Florence Pugh, though Hollywood veteran Glenn Close will reportedly not attending after testing positive for Covid 19.