We chat with A Shine of Rainbows star John Bell!
Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment


In "A Shine of Rainbows," young actor John Bell portrays an orphaned boy named Tomás.  His life changes the moment he meets Maire O’Donnell (portrayed by Connie Nielsen), who invites the young boy to live on a whimsical Irish isle filled with new friends, secret caves and a lost baby pup seal stranded on the coast. But when Maire’s reluctant husband Alec (portrayed by Aidan Quinn) refuses to accept Tomás as his own son, the boy drifts down a fateful path of adventure and self-discovery, illuminating how rainbows can shine around — and within — us all.  Find out what John Bell had to say about his role, filming in Ireland and the truth about those yellow rainboots!

Hi John, could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

I am 13 years old and have been acting since I was 7. I have been in Doctor Who in the UK and several other British programmes. Shine of Rainbows is my first feature film. I play the trumpet, drums and keyboard. I enjoy snowboarding and cycling and going to the cinema with my friends.

Who are some of your acting influences?

I have always loved Jack Nicholson as an actor and my favourite film is ‘The Shining,’ however, I have been lucky to work with fantastic actors and directors in my short time as an actor and I would say they have all influenced me in some way.

Can you describe your character in A Shine of Rainbows and tell us a little bit about the movie itself?

I play Tomás an orphan who is bullied at the local orphanage, when my life changes when Maire arrives and picks me to go live with her and her husband Alec. I am taken away from my bleak surroundings and into a world where I am taught love friendship and loyalty through Maire and the children I meet who become my friends.

Had you read the book by Lillian Beckwith before you were cast as Tomas?

I hadn’t but my Mum had and she helped me understand the character for the audition process.

We chat with A Shine of Rainbows star John Bell! We chat with A Shine of Rainbows star John Bell!
Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

What was it like working with two celebrated veterans (Aidan Quinn and Connie Nielson) who share the majority of the scenes in the movie alongside you?

I learned so much from both Aidan and Connie and their support and advice was invaluable in bringing the character of Tomas to the screen.

Did you do any research for the role or speak with any young kids your age about the emotions they may have experienced with adoption?

I didn’t get a chance to speak to any young kids about their experiences and emotions but I did do research on speech difficulties and the reasons behind them which helped me get into the head of Tomás.

We chat with A Shine of Rainbows star John Bell!
Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

What did you enjoy most about playing Tomas?

Working with Vic Sarin was a wonderful experience and just learning from such a kind and patient man was probably the most enjoyable part of filming. The scenery everywhere we went was so beautiful and I can honestly say that I have been back to Ireland and visited all the locations again. I loved Tomas because although he is weak and bullied by others he is really very strong and I liked the way love changed his life.

Do you have a favorite scene that you filmed for this movie?

I loved filming the cooking scene. Jack, Tara and myself had great fun throwing around the ingredients and when we had finished the stew was actually really tasty.

In the movie, your character Tomas goes through a number of emotions in a relatively short period of time. Can you tell us what it is like as a young actor to have to switch from happiness to sadness to anger all within the same character and often within the same scene?

It is only possible when you have a great director and other fabulous actors to bounce off. I could easily switch between emotions because everyone was feeling it and when you have that around you to work with it makes any scene and feeling possible to convey, and I was lucky enough to have some of the best actors and director to work with during these scenes.

We chat with A Shine of Rainbows star John Bell!
Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

One of my favorite scenes due to the conveyed happiness and emotion involved you and your adopted mom and water puddles. Did you really have as much fun as was conveyed onscreen?

I have been asked this a few times and unlike the scene in the movie it was actually really uncomfortable, I had on very thin black canvas shoes and we had to do a lot of takes so by the end I was soaked through. I wished I had worn my yellow wellies!

Were the yellow boots actually comfortable? It seems that they had you in them every scene.

Nobody else knows this but the yellow boots were actually pink and they had to be painted every night because all the paint would flake off during the day.

How involved were you in the seal scenes? Were you able to actually feed the seal(s) involved and if so, how was that?

The seal scenes were strange. The seal was actually and animatronic, which was radio controlled. I got to do most things such as feeding the seal. I just wasn’t feeding a real seal.

What was the most challenging scene that you tackled in this film?

The scenes where I am in danger in the boat were certainly physically the most challenging as it was actually me out there on the boat in peril. Emotionally the scene in the hospital was the most challenging.

We chat with A Shine of Rainbows star John Bell!
Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Were there any important life/acting lessons that you learned during the filming of this movie from the director, the actors, or any unexpected people involved?

I definitely learned to appreciate my own home more. I was away from home for 8 weeks and only saw my Mum or Dad at weekends and not always every weekend so even though I was being looked after by my Granny who is fabulous, sometimes everyone just needs a cuddle from their Mum. My tutor was just great to work with and I loved going for lessons with her. It was the lead up to the American elections and we followed the campaigns and I got so interested in the whole process. I learned a lot from Vic and his life which was fascinating.

Even with the seriousness of this movie there were often lighthearted moments and family togetherness. Were there any funny behind the scenes moments or pranks that occurred on set to keep the atmosphere light?

Working with Smudge the seal was always fun as Neil who operated it used to make its head dance in time to music and look around as if it was joining in conversations that we were having at the time. Enda, one of the assistant directors, became our Uncle Enda and he was so funny he would always make us laugh. Tara who played Nancy was great fun and she had a dog that would occasionally come on set and cause havoc running around. We had lots of fun together.

What is next for John Bell? I had heard you have been cast in The Hobbit. Is that true and can you tell us anything about the character you will be playing? And are you a Middle Earth/Tolkien fan?

I have just finished filming a small part in the film Battleship in Louisiana and I am about to start another project that I can’t say anything about just yet. I have been offered a part in The Hobbit and the character I play is very different from Tomás. My character is confident and brave and ready to do battle if required even though he is still a boy. I have read the Hobbit and loved it and I love Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films so you can definitely call me a fan.

We recommend checking out A Shine of Rainbows on DVD to see a touching movie about family, friendship, and finding yourself!  Order your copy today through Amazon.com!  Or visit our contest corner to find out how YOU can win a copy of this touching film!

Find out how YOU can win a copy of A SHINE OF RAINBOWS on DVD!

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JUNE 6-9, 2013

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