Stephen Rea ‘surprised’ to be honoured with IFTA Lifetime Achievement Award

Stephen Rea ‘surprised’ to be honoured with IFTA Lifetime Achievement Award

ACTING ‘pioneer’ Stephen Rea has been announced as the 2024 recipient of the Irish Film and Television Academy’s (IFTA) Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Belfast-born actor’s career has by now spanned several decades and includes roles in a range of hit films and television series, including The Crying Game, Michael Collins and The Honourable Woman.

Having launched his career at Dublin’s Focus Theatre, he soon became a close collaborator with the infamous Irish director Neil Jordan.

The pair worked on a series of classic films, including The Crying Game, which saw Rea nominated for an Oscar in 1992.

In the film, Rea plays the morally conflicted IRA kidnapper Fergus, who becomes embroiled in a complex romance in Troubles-era London.

“The nuance Stephen brought to this portrayal of an Irish Republican opened the eyes of an international audience to the complicated nature of the violence happening here,” an IFTA spokesperson said as they confirmed his award for his “outstanding contribution to the Irish and international screen industry”.

Stephen Rea will receive IFTA's Lifetime Achievement Award for 2024

Over the years, Rea has been nominated for a Golden Globe Award and a Toni Award. He has also won a BAFTA and three IFTAs.

Of his Lifetime Achievement Award, which was announced this week, Rea said: “So much of Irish culture has been recovered and reimagined. Music, language, literature, theatre.

"And cinema can be added to that list because of the special energy of John Boorman who produced Neil Jordan’s first film Angel. And to my astonishment, my first film too."

He explained: “Neil thrust the script and a saxophone into my hands and suddenly I was in the movies.

“Well, one really original movie, which was at the beginning of a new confidence in Irish cinema.

"And now many films later, IFTA have, equally surprisingly, offered me a Lifetime Achievement Award.

“A lifetime of collaboration with the most generous and creative artists you could ever work with. And hang out with. Thanks to all of them. Thank you IFTA.”

Acknowledging Rea’s contributions to the Irish screen industry over the years, IFTA CEO Áine Moriarty said: "As a pioneer of his craft, Stephen's profound contribution to our industry has left an indelible mark.

“He brings such an intelligent and intuitive approach to his craft and his performances, with authentic depth and honesty, and a uniquely Irish stoicism.”

She added: “He has become one of Ireland’s most respected and beloved actors.

“His commitment to the craft and to our community has made him an integral part of our cinematic history and the legacy of Irish film, theatre and television.

“We in the Irish Academy are honoured to recognise his achievements with this special award.”

Rea will be presented with his award at the 21st Anniversary IFTA Awards Ceremony, which will take place on Saturday, April 20 at the Dublin Royal Convention Centre.