‘Tiny’ Tyrone boy wows critics with his big screen debut on A Christmas Star

James Stockdale at the World Premier of A Christmas Star in Belfast
James Stockdale at the World Premier of A Christmas Star in Belfast

Royal School student James Stockdale has been wowing critics with his “comic timing” and “great screen presence” on his big screen debut.

James, a third year student at the school, plays the part of Spud Bob in star-studded movie A Christmas Star which is now showing in cinemas.

Movie poster for the Christmas film

Movie poster for the Christmas film

The “tiny” 14-year-old Moy boy was chosen from over 5,000 hopefuls to play one of the movie’s 11 child parts.

He will share the spotlight with stars including Liam Neeson, Pierce Brosnan, Kylie Minogue, Bronagh Waugh and his favourite, Downton Abbey actor, Rob James-Collier.

“I was a bit [star struck] knowing I was starring alongside all those amazing actors,” James said. “It’s one thing saying you got a role in a movie, it’s another saying you got a role in a movie alongside Liam Neeson.

Speaking about his part, James told the Times: “My character is called Spud Bob and he is the best friend of the main character Noelle.

“Spud Bob is a very comical character and he always sticks by Noelle and he’s always very trustworthy and very loyal towards her.

“It feels absolutely amazing being on the screen and being a movie star,” James explained.

“It’s been my dream and it’s come true and it’s been absolutely phenomenal - hopefully it is the start of a long career.

“I really think A Christmas Star has opened a lot of doors and opportunities for me,” he went on. “I’ll just see what happens.”

Now working on his grade six Speech and Drama and also Acting qualifications, you could be forgiven for mistaking James for a seasoned professional, displaying the charm and charisma of someone who’s been in the industry for years.

But up until this - his first film role - the only child has been treading the boards at Donaghmore’s Bardic Theatre, where he has performed in a number of shows.

“This is my first on screen role... and I actually did get paid - quite well for a kid,” he added.

“The filming took three weeks, we filmed up in Glenarm and up around Belfast.”

As for the experience as a whole, he said: “It was really, really exciting to film the whole thing.

“You don’t really know how a film is made until you act in one or are a part of it... it’s just really remarkable.

“My parents have been really, really proud and my school are just really behind me.

“We’re going to see the movie with my whole year group, it’s really encouraging knowing that everyone’s behind me and supporting me.”