Young actress makes debut in big-budget Christmas movie

Sally Cope A BUDDING Yorkshire actress has been announced as a star of the new Narnia film due to hit cinema screens this Christmas.

Ten-year-old Georgie Henley, of Ilkley, will make her professional acting debut in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, which is set to rival Harry Potter at the box office.

Adapted from the classic tale by CS Lewis, the big-budget movie features Tilda Swinton as the White Witch and Liam Neeson as the voice of Aslan the lion.

Georgie will play Lucy, one of the Pevensie children who discover a wardrobe which is a gateway to the snow-bound land of Narnia.

She was discovered by a casting director in her home town and was chosen from 2,000 hopefuls.

Posing for her first photocall in London's Leicester Square, she said: "This is my first movie so it's quite overwhelming for me, but it's amazing.

"I'm not really a child actor but I would love to do it when I'm older."

Despite her age, Georgie is taking to the movie star life like a duck to water.

"I don't want to sound selfish or anything, but I kind of like being in the spotlight. It's nice to be noticed," she said.

"I got to go to New Zealand and the Czech Republic and London to make the movie, and there's still Los Angeles and New York to come.

"But I kind of have a balance. I can always go back up to Yorkshire and be my old self. You don't get any of this glamour up there."

Georgie, a pupil at Moorfield School and a member of Ilkley Upstagers theatre group, has kept in touch with her friends back home throughout months of filming abroad.

She landed the part in July last year when her mentor at Upstagers and Moorfield teacher, Gill Jackson, contacted the film's casting director after hearing from a friend that the producers were looking for youngsters to star in it.

Georgie auditioned with dozens of other children at the Tabernacle in Notting Hill and was picked out to play Lucy.

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

She said: "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 10-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 has appeared in Upstagers' pantomimes and has also made regular appearances at the Wharfedale Festival of Performing Arts.

Her mother, Helen, has stayed with her throughout filming, while father Mike and sisters, Rachael and Laura, visited her in New Zealand.

Jane Disley, headteacher at Moorfield School, said everyone at the school was thrilled at Georgie's success. She was strong academically and always enthusiastic.

"Throughout filming she has kept up with her school work by email and is very level-headed. She understands that part of the film world is wonderful but that it isn't the normal way of living."

The two Pevensie boys in the film are played by William Moseley, 18, from Gloucestershire, and Skandar Keynes, 14, from London.

The film is due to be released on December 9.