More on Georgie Henley

Ilkley schoolgirl is new film star
AN Ilkley girl has scooped a prestigious role in a major new Hollywood film.

Georgie Henley, nine, a pupil at Moorfield School and a member of Ilkley Upstagers theatre group has landed the lead children’s role of Lucy in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

The movie, the first of a planned seven, is financed by Disney Studios and Walden Media and is currently being filmed in New Zealand.

Georgie finally revealed herself to the world this week after months of intense secrecy.

She was involved in a cricket game being filmed in the grounds of Monte Cecilia House in Hillsborough when New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark visited the set.

But despite being thousands of miles away, Georgie hasn’t forgotten all her old school pals back at Moorfield.

“This week they received a letter from her,” said her mentor at Upstagers and Moorfield teacher, Gill Jackson.

“She said that she’s having a wonderful time, that she has been to see Shrek 2 with her director Andrew Adamson, who also filmed Shrek, and that she is really enjoying things.”

And before Georgie left Ilkley for New Zealand, youngsters at Upstagers give her a good-luck teddy bear to remember them by.

Georgie this week told a New Zealand newspaper that she was tired, but very excited to be involved in the film.

The epic film is the first of a potential seven in the Chronicles of Narnia series which could catapult the Moorfield School pupil to Hollywood fame.

She is the second major star in the Wharfedale area – Menston St Mary’s pupil Matthew Lewis, from Horsforth, plays Neville Longbottom in the hugely successful Harry Potter film franchise.

Georgie and her family are currently in New Zealand filming the blockbuster with Shrek 2 director Andrew Adamson.

She is co-starring with James McAvoy, James Cosmo, Rupert Everett, Dawn French and Tilda Swinton in a film that producers hope will rival the recent Lord of the Rings trilogy in popularity.

They will move on to Czechoslovakia to continue filming later this year.

Gill Jackson, who runs Upstagers, said that the whole group `thinks it’s wonderful’ that she has landed the part.

Mrs Jackson, who also teaches drama at Moorfield School, said that she had worked with Georgie at Upstagers since she was six years old.

“She has always had a talent – this little girl has a lot going for her and I couldn’t be more pleased. I’m so proud of her.

“I remember at Moorfield when she was five-and-a-half and she was amazing in a Christmas play that was meant for ten year olds. I knew she could do it — she could ad lib and improvise even at that age.

“And she also knew everybody else’s lines as well!”

Georgie had appeared in Upstagers’ pantomimes as the loud growling monster in Monster Mash earlier this year and last year as a little Morris Dancer.

She has also made regular appearances at the Wharfedale Festival of Performing Arts.

Sheer persistence got Georgie the part in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.

Mrs Jackson, after hearing by sheer coincidence from a friend that the producers were looking for youngsters to star in the film, contacted their casting director, Pippa Hall, in London.

“It was an unusual thing for Upstagers to do because we don’t usually put our youngsters forward for things like this.

“I told the casting agent that they ought to come and have a look at some of the youngsters from Upstagers, because we’re fantastic.

“It took some effort to pin her down, but she ended up coming here to Ilkley to The Barn.”

When Ms Hall arrived in April last year, a small number of Upstagers youngsters and some from Moorfield School awaited her.

The agent then took out a video camera and filmed the youngsters as she asked questions to them.

“They sent the films to the producers over in the United States and said they’d get back to me. We didn’t hear anything for quite some time and I thought that was that,” said Mrs Jackson.

“Some time later we got a call saying that they were interested in little Georgie and could I bring her down to London.”

In July last year she auditioned with dozens of other children at the Tabernacle in Notting Hill – and it was there that the producers evidently thought that she was the one.

“It’s a real feather in the cap for Upstagers.”

Already at Upstagers, Georgie has been learning improvisation techniques, learning scripted works and developing her social skills.

Georgie, who lives in Ilkley, is currently in Auckland with her mother and father Helen and Mike and her two sisters, Rachael and Laura.

Helen will be staying with her daughter throughout filming.

The Henleys were unavailable for comment this week.

l The film is due to be released on Christmas Day next year.

Posted Friday 16 July 2004

This story was originally published at Ilkley Gazette