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'I'm so excited, it's a big honour' - Eva gets Critics' Choice nod for movie role

Eva (12) vying with Hollywood stars for top movie award

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Kildare girl Eva Whittaker (12) at the Wolfwalkers exhibition in Kilkenny’s Butler Gallery

Kildare girl Eva Whittaker (12) at the Wolfwalkers exhibition in Kilkenny’s Butler Gallery

Dylan Vaughan

Kildare girl Eva Whittaker (12) at the Wolfwalkers exhibition in Kilkenny’s Butler Gallery

Meet Eva Whittaker, a 12-year-old Irish schoolgirl who'll be keeping company with Hollywood royalty in the upcoming awards season.

The sixth-class pupil from Scoil an Linbh Íosa in Prosperous, Co Kildare, along with Tom Hanks, Chris Hemsworth, Will Smith, Blake Lively and Tina Fey, has been nominated for a Critics' Choice Super Award taking place next month.

In her debut movie, Eva breathed life into Mebh Óg MacTíre, the feisty, red-haired character in Wolf- walkers, a new animated film from Kilkenny-based studio Cartoon Saloon.

Set in 1650, the film tells of the Cromwellian atrocities.

Mebh is a free-spirited girl and a member of a myster- ious tribe that lives in the woods beyond the walls of Kilkenny city and who are rumoured to transform into wolves at night.

It is two-and-a-half years since Eva recorded her debut film part over a week at Grouse Lodge studios in Co Westmeath.

The movie debuted on Apple Tv+ on December 11 and is in cinemas now.

Cartoon Saloon is hotly tipped to get an Academy Award nomination.

Last Saturday, the memories came flooding back for Eva when she visited an exhibition running at Kilkenny's Butler Gallery that features original drawings, artists' sketches, woodblock-type prints and behind-the-scenes videos.

The exhibition will have a series of talks live every Wednesday until March 16, starting with one with the movie's directors, Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart, on January 20.

Walking around the immersive installation, Eva viewed original thumbnail sketches and saw how the Cartoon Saloon team created her character.

Feisty

"We were watching the storyboards when filming and it really, really helped us get into character," she said.

She described Mebh as "very feisty and she's really wild and because she's grown up in the forest, she really has no inhibitions and she never holds back on her emotions, so you can always tell how she's feeling throughout the film".

"I would be quite energetic, and that's definitely something that Mebh is," she said.

"But the thing is, because she's grown up in the wild and she doesn't hold back, everything's just a bit bigger, so some traits would kind of be like mine, but 10 times bigger."

In the movie, Mebh befriends Robyn (played by Honor Kneafsey) who has come from England with her father Bill (Sean Bean), who has been tasked by the Lord Protector with wiping out the last wolf pack.

When Robyn discovers Mebh's secret, she is drawn into the magical world of the Wolfwalkers.

Nominated in the Best Voice Actress in an Animated Movie category in the first ever Critics' Choice awards taking place virtually on January 10, Eva said: "I'm so excited, it's a big honour.

"I'm really very thrilled about it."


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