Northern Ireland

Julia Roberts presents honorary Irishman award in LA

Julia Robert
Image caption Julia Roberts was a surprise guest at the Oscar Wilde awards

Oscar winning actress Julia Roberts was a surprise guest at the Oscar Wilde awards in Los Angeles, held annually to celebrate Irish cinema talent.

The Eat Pray Love star presented Hollywood actor Paul Rudd with an 'honorary Irishman' award on Thursday night.

Ros and John Hubbard, who cast The Commitments, and 19-year-old Tudors star Sarah Bolger were also honoured.

The Dublin actress sent a video message accepting the "Wilde Card" accolade for emerging talent.

The award was inaugurated last year to honour rising talent in the film industry, with Carlow-born actress Saoirse Ronan, picking up the honour.

The invite-only party takes place just three days ahead of this year's Oscar ceremony.

On the night Julia Roberts joked about the suitability of Paul Rudd getting the award before her.

"Maybe I can become Irish - my middle name is Fiona, which is a step closer to being Irish than Paul Rudd was five minutes ago," she said.

Rudd, star of Knocked Up and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, said he wanted to be Irish after seeing the Pogues.

He also recalled his visits to Ireland with his father and that when his father died recently, they scattered his ashes in Ireland.

Casting agents Ros and John Hubbard were surprised with a video from Dublin where the cast members began rehearsals this week for a few reunion shows.

The husband-and-wife team have cast movies such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Bourne Identity, King Kong, The Mummy and most recently Peter Jackson's The Hobbit, currently in production in New Zealand.

The couple also discovered Oscar-winner Kate Winslet when she auditioned for Heavenly Creatures aged 14.

Mr Hubbard told the BBC in LA: "We were seeing about 70 girls a day, she only needed to read two lines when I stopped her. It was magical because she absolutely got it. It's very exciting when you see that huge talent inside somebody."

Mrs Hubbard added: "It's what she still has, a huge energy, she couldn't be anything but a star."