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Irish Voice
October 28, 2003

By Georgina Brennan
CIARAN Hinds, 50, is probably not familiar to most people.

But, just to prove that Colin Farrell is not the only hot Irish actor in Hollywood, no less than four movies featuring Hinds are set to be released before the end of the year.

His latest film is Veronica Guerin. As the pimp and frontman John Traynor, Hinds is a slick, tanning bed-bronzed, cagey and complex gangster.

For Hinds, it all began with Excalibur in 1981. Then, last year, he began getting roles in blockbuster Hollywood films. Hinds hit American movie screens playing the Russian president in The Sum of All Fears. More recently, movie goers were treated to a rare movie moment: Angelina Jolie kicking Ciaran Hinds' butt. Jolie's Lara Croft, in the second of the Tomb Raider series, had to save the world from Hinds' evil scientist, Dr. Jonathan Reiss.

Currently, Hinds is onscreen in Veronica Guerin, being outwitted and double-crossed by Cate Blanchett. In the coming weeks, Hinds will be seen stripping down to play Julie Walters husband in Calendar Girls. Around the same time he will play a fascist in Norman Jewison's The Statement, also starring Michael Caine.

Currently, Hinds is in Pinewood Studios, west of London, undertaking yet another supporting turn as a co-owner of the Paris Opera House in the $80 million screen version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical The Phantom of the Opera.

"I got roped into that because of my great singing voice," Hinds tells the Irish Voice with a laugh. In fact, the actor confesses, he can't sing a note.

"Imagine someone had the nerve to make a movie of (Phantom) and I got into it," Hinds adds, speaking from the studio on his mobile phone.

Hinds, who's partner of 15 years is the French-Vietnamese actress Helen Patarot, has been in more movies than he cares to mention. Yet he can still go shopping without anybody bothering him. Perhaps the normality in his life contributes to why Hinds, who has to be one of the nicest men on earth, is also infectiously funny.

"I do a bit of light hovering, I learn my lines and I know how to mind the furniture," he says of his luck in movies, television and theatre roles. "And I try not to f**k up."

Hinds was born in Belfast on February 9, 1953. He was the youngest of five children and the only son. His father was a doctor who hoped to have Ciaran follow in his footsteps, but that was not to be. It was his mother Moya, an amateur actress, who was the real influence behind his decision to be come an actor. Despite entering Queens University to study law, Hinds ended up in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Though he did begin law school at Queens University, he left that in order to train in acting at RADA. Hinds' first role was the extraordinarily demanding rear end of a horse in the Glasgow Citizens' Theater in Cinderella. Since then, Hinds theatre work has included a world tour in the title role of Richard III with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

In the coming weeks when Calendar Girls is released, Hinds will reveal himself as the downtrodden husband of Julie Walters. The film tells the true story of 11 Women's Institute 50-something women who were prepared to take off their clothes for a calendar for charity. They do this in the name of one of their husband's, John Baker, who died of Leukemia.

Walters, like Hinds, had an Irish mother, something they both mention in interviews.

"All Irish women are strong," Hinds said of his mother, Brenda Fricker and Veronica Guerin. Girls is uplifting fiction as opposed to the more serious, fact-based Guerin, says Hinds, who is just relieved to be working.

"As an actor, I'd say, you take what people give you. Otherwise you are on your way."

On his way in a different sense, Hinds, like great character actors before him, might soon become a household name. All this from his meager beginnings as the rear end of a horse.