Hollywood star Jack O’Connell became an Honorary Master of the Arts last night, when he received an Honorary Degree from the University of Derby at a special event held to mark QUAD’s tenth anniversary.
Jack, a QUAD Patron, spoke about his career in Hollywood and on British TV at an exclusive homecoming Q&A session with QUAD CEO Adam Buss, before receiving his degree from University of Derby Vice-Chancellor Professor Kathryn Mitchell.
Each year, notable people with a strong connection to the University or to the city are chosen to receive Honorary Degrees.
Jack, who was born in Derby in 1990, studied at the city’s Saint Benedict School and Performing Arts College. He made his film debut in 2006’s critically acclaimed British film, This is England, before his breakthrough television role as James Cook in Skins three years later.
Jack’s early film credits include Eden Lake, Private Peaceful and 300: Rise of an Empire. His strong performances in the independent films Starred Up and ’71 saw him winning multiple awards around the world.
In 2014 he made the transition to Hollywood, with his first leading role in Unbroken, directed by Angelina Jolie, earning him a New Hollywood Award at the Hollywood Film Awards. He also received the prestigious BAFTA Rising Star Award in 2015, marking him as one of the UK’s most exciting young actors.
2016’s Money Monster, directed by Jodie Foster, saw him star alongside George Clooney and Julia Roberts and in 2017 he starred in the Young Vic Theatre’s production of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with Sienna Miller in the West End. He is currently playing an outlaw in the critically acclaimed, Emmy Nominated Netflix series Godless, opposite Jeff Daniels.
Jack said: “My acting career has taken me around the world, but it all started for me in Derby so the city will always be an important part of who I am – I’m still a massive Rams fan. I never went to university, so getting this recognition from my home town is a huge honour.”
Professor Kathryn Mitchell added: “I am delighted to present Jack with an Honorary Master of the Arts Degree. He has made an outstanding contribution to film, television and theatre, and is an inspirational ambassador for Derby.”