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"I'm a very loyal and unreliable friend. First off, I've got to be there for my family, so I lose people along the way. But I seem to find them again. I'm a stray dog." — Bono

Bono's doppelganger hits the big time

Irish Times

As a teenager, Neil McCormick had ambitions to be a global rock star. So, unfortunately, did his schoolmate Paul Hewson.

Bono, as he became universally known, achieved all the ambitions that McCormick and his brother Ivan had set out for themselves.

As U2 rose to world domination, they fell short first as Yeah Yeah! and then Shook Up!. They even got a record deal, but ran out of luck.

Eight years ago McCormick wrote a book about his travails in the music industry called I Was Bono's Doppelganger and the European premiere of Killing Bono, the movie loosely based on book, took place at The Savoy in O'Connell Street last night.

"This is a movie that celebrates failure," said director Nick Hamm who optioned the book after it first came out in 2003.

The title comes from Bono's contention that he had stolen all McCormick's luck and the only way out was to kill the U2 singer.

For once McCormick upstaged his doppelganger who is in New York trying to fix the gargantuan mess that has become the Spiderman musical.

Ironically, last night was supposed to have been the world premiere of the musical now postponed (again) until June. The band were given a preview of the film in Australia while they were on tour.

"This is how we always imagined we would come back to Dublin. It took a little bit longer to get here than planned, 28 years," joked Neil (49), the elder of the brothers by two years.

The pair left Ireland to pursue their musical ambitions in London in 1983. Both are still involved in music: Neil as the rock critic with The Daily Telegraph ; Ivan as a guitarist in the covers band 29 Fingers and also as a writer of movie soundtracks.

"I am living my dream in my little Hampshire cottage with my three kids and my lovely wife," said Ivan.

Neil is played by English actor Ben Barnes who makes a decent fist of the Irish accent; Ivan by Irish actor Robert Sheehan.

"I was flattered when the best-looking actor in Britain and the best-looking actor in Ireland played us," quipped Neil.

Bono is played by Northern Irish actor Martin McCann and most of the movie was filmed in the North.

Barnes and Sheehan had to fight off the attention of teenage girls who turned up last night for the premiere.

Barnes said he was banned from meeting Neil McCormick before playing in the movie by the director.

"He (Hamm) said that if I tried to capture any of his mannerisms, the film would be unwatchable. I was really nervous because I've made him out to be a totally incompetant misfit. He sweated his way through watching it the first time and he has got a little bit easier with it."

© Irish Times, 2011.