Starry-eyed Dubliners answer call for help

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The Independent Online
ALAN MURDOCH

Dublin

A chance to be in a movie, a little way down the list of credits after Liam Neeson and Julia Roberts, drew more than 4,000 would-be actors to a film set in the north of Dublin yesterday.

They were taking part in a major crowd scene for the film of the life of Irish nationalist leader Michael Collins, directed by Neil Jordan.

Fleets of buses took the volunteers to a meticulously rebuilt replica of O'Connell Street complete with newly-laid cobbles, tramlines and an exact copy of the General Post Office.

Kitchener-like posters all over Dublin proclaiming "Michael Collins needs you!"and radio appeals had lured the extras, who were unpaid except for prize draws of holidays and electrical goods.

In the event, more than double the number needed turned up. Most observed the instructions to wear dark clothes and leave wrist watches behind - most Dubliners in 1921-22 were too poor to afford them. Some entire families with children on fathers' shoulders turned up in precise period costume pillaged from grandparents' wardrobes.

Some women, however, arrived in conspicuously un- Edwardian high heels. They were needed to swell the huge crowd as the former Sinn Fein president, Eamon de Valera, played by Alan Rickman, made a vitriolic denunciation of Collins for agreeing the treaty with Lloyd George which led to civil war after the British withdrawal at the end of 1921.

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