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Alisha Weir's rise from obscurity after 'unforgettable audition' led to her coveted lead in Matilda


It was just another day at the office for Dame Emma Thompson on Wednesday afternoon as the red carpet was unfurled on behalf of her latest film, a screen adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical. 

But while Thompson’s acting pedigree is well-established, less is known about her young co-star in the forthcoming film – although one suspects that is about to change. 

Born on September 26, 2009 and raised in the Knocklyon area of Dublin, Alisha Weir has been plucked from relative obscurity to play the ‘brilliant’ Matilda Wormwood, a schoolgirl with a vivid imagination who dares to take a stand and turn her wildest dreams into a reality. 

It could almost be art imitating life for the young Irish actress, who won the coveted role when she was an 11-year old drama student with little professional experience to speak of. 

Special moment: Young actress Alisha Weir made the first significant red carpet appearance of her career at the photocall and press conference for new film Roald Dahl's Matilda The Musical, in which she plays the titular lead, on Wednesday

Special moment: Young actress Alisha Weir made the first significant red carpet appearance of her career at the photocall and press conference for new film Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical, in which she plays the titular lead, on Wednesday 

Now aged 13 and on the verge of a major promotional campaign with an A-list group of actors, Weir appears to be completing a remarkable leap from independent features to international stardom. 

Before stepping into Matilda’s tiny shoes, the young actress and singer had previously appeared on Ireland’s The Late Late Toy Show, in which she performed a rendition of Cyndi Lauper’s True Colours, and Once the musical at Dublin’s Olympia Theatre. 

She has also featured in the 2018 independent thriller Don’t Leave Home, playing Siobhan Callahan, and Irish TV drama Darklands. 

There has also been a brief appearance on mainstream TV, with the young performer featuring in a rendition of Trip The Light Fantastic on Dancing With The Stars Ireland.  

Career defining role: Born on September 26, 2009 and raised in the Knocklyon area of Dublin, Alisha Weir has been plucked from relative obscurity to play the 'brilliant' Matilda Wormwood, a schoolgirl with a vivid imagination who dares to take a stand and turn her wildest dreams into a reality

Career defining role: Born on September 26, 2009 and raised in the Knocklyon area of Dublin, Alisha Weir has been plucked from relative obscurity to play the ‘brilliant’ Matilda Wormwood, a schoolgirl with a vivid imagination who dares to take a stand and turn her wildest dreams into a reality

Pleased: Following her casting alongside Dame Emma Thompson and former Bond actress Lashana Lynch in 2021, the young star's drama teacher Johnny Ward - a successful actor best known for his role in Irish soap opera Fair City - tweeted his delight

Pleased: Following her casting alongside Dame Emma Thompson and former Bond actress Lashana Lynch in 2021, the young star’s drama teacher Johnny Ward – a successful actor best known for his role in Irish soap opera Fair City – tweeted his delight

Following her casting alongside Thompson and former Bond actress Lashana Lynch in 2021, the young star’s drama teacher Johnny Ward – a successful actor best known for his role in Irish soap opera Fair City – tweeted his delight. 

He told followers: ‘MASSIVE NEWS!! Absolutely over the moon to finally announce that my Drama Student Alisha Weir has landed the title role of ‘Matilda’ in the Roald Dahl Netflix production of Matilda!! So so proud!’ 

Ward also credited Maureen V Ward Talent Agency Ireland, an extension of the successful Talented Kids Agency Ireland, for its role in representing Weir and nurturing her developing career. 

The agency previously appeared to foreshadow the trajectory her career might take by publishing a glowing report in 2019, in which her vocal performance was described as ‘very clear’ and ‘perfectly in tune.’ 

Stunned: Alisha later admitted she was overwhelmed after winning a role last played by child star Mara Wilson in Danny DeVito's 1996 rendering of Dahl's popular children's book

Stunned: Alisha later admitted she was overwhelmed after winning a role last played by child star Mara Wilson in Danny DeVito’s 1996 rendering of Dahl’s popular children’s book

Delay: However she would be forced to wait before work commenced on the production, with principal photography at Shepperton Studios initially postponed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic

Delay: However she would be forced to wait before work commenced on the production, with principal photography at Shepperton Studios initially postponed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic

So excited: The young singer and actress has kept social media followers updated on her progress in a series of posts

So excited: The young singer and actress has kept social media followers updated on her progress in a series of posts

Alisha later admitted she was overwhelmed after winning a role last played by child star Mara Wilson in Danny DeVito’s 1996 rendering of Dahl’s popular children’s book. 

Posting on Instagram in January 2021, she wrote: ‘I am delighted to be playing the role of ‘Matilda’ in Matilda the movie musical which will be on Netflix. 

‘I am so excited to get started !!! Thank you so much to everyone for all your nice comments. I am so happy.’ 

However she would be forced to wait before work commenced on the production, with principal photography at Shepperton Studios initially postponed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Matilda director Matthew Warchus recently admitted the part as a ‘huge role’ for Weir, but she earned it on merit following ‘an unforgettable audition.’

Previously: Alisha had a brief appearance on mainstream TV, with the young performer (far right) featuring in a rendition of Trip The Light Fantastic on Dancing With The Stars Ireland

Previously: Alisha had a brief appearance on mainstream TV, with the young performer (far right) featuring in a rendition of Trip The Light Fantastic on Dancing With The Stars Ireland 

Our girl: Maureen V Ward Talent Agency Ireland, an extension of the successful Talented Kids Agency Ireland, represent the actress and appeared to foreshadow the trajectory her career might take by publishing a glowing report in 2019

Our girl: Maureen V Ward Talent Agency Ireland, an extension of the successful Talented Kids Agency Ireland, represent the actress and appeared to foreshadow the trajectory her career might take by publishing a glowing report in 2019

Proud: The agency also congratulated Alisha after her role in Roald Dahl's Matilda The Musical was confirmed in 2021

Proud: The agency also congratulated Alisha after her role in Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical was confirmed in 2021 

Of the new production, he added: ‘Matilda will be an imaginative and fresh retelling of the award-winning musical, Matilda, featuring talented young newcomers, alongside established stars.

‘I look forward to introducing this beloved and powerful story to a new generation of fans around the world.’

Based on Roald Dahl’s 1988 novel, the film is written by Dennis Kelly, with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin from his stage musical adaptation of the book. 

The musical became an instant hit when it opened at the RSC’s Courtyard Theatre in Stratford in November 2010; after which it transferred to the Cambridge Theatre, where it is set to reopen once that’s allowed. It also enjoyed a good run on Broadway.

Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical is released by Sony Pictures on 25th November. 

Inseparable: Dame Emma Thompson greeted young co-star Alisha with a warm hug as they attended a photocall and press conference for the new film in London on Wednesday afternoon

Inseparable: Dame Emma Thompson greeted young co-star Alisha with a warm hug as they attended a photocall and press conference for the new film in London on Wednesday afternoon 

Coming soon: Roald Dahl's Matilda The Musical is released by Sony Pictures on 25th November

Coming soon: Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical is released by Sony Pictures on 25th November

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