called him "the most endearing prepubescent hero since the disarming Swedish waif in My Life as a Dog
15 years ago." Well, come February, the rest of the world may be calling 14-year-old Billy Elliot
star Jamie Bell
an Oscar nominee. Regardless, don't expect to see the young Brit back on the big screen anytime soon.
"He's got two years of heavy exams," Billy Elliot director Stephen Daldry tells TV Guide Online of Bell, who attends public school in his hometown of Billingham, England. "At the end of two years, maybe he can do some more film work."
Daldry a celebrated London stage director who made his feature debut with Billy Elliot, the story of a little boy who wants to be a ballet dancer believes that Bell is making a wise decision resisting the lure of the spotlight. "What should happen to the kid? Should he move down to London and try to get a film career? I think it would be a disaster," he insists. "If you discombobulate a child so profoundly from where they come from at that age, it can be very damaging. It's much better to have a continuity."
That may be easier said than done. As Daldry notes, Billy Elliot which has been playing to packed houses since it opened in limited release last month has already made Bell the "most famous kid in England." But the filmmaker believes "if he can see through [the mania], it will be much better for him. If he's going to think about a career, maybe he should think about it in the long term, not the short."
Although an Oscar nomination could make maintaining a normal existence not to mention walking down the street next to impossible for Bell, the young lad does have one thing going for him. "He's growing up," Daldry points out, "so he'll be physically unrecognizable within 18 months anyway."