Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson made us wait 14 years for an In Bruges reunion, but The Banshees of Inisherin has proven to be worth the wait.
The duo reunite with writer-director Martin McDonagh on the pitch-black comedy about a friendship break-up. Set on the remote fictional titular island, the movie centres on Pádraic (Farrell) and Colm (Gleeson), whose lives are changed when Colm unexpectedly ends their lifelong friendship.
As Pádraic attempts to repair their friendship with the help of his sister Siobhán (Kerry Condon) and troubled young islander Dominic (Barry Keoghan), Colm delivers a shocking ultimatum and events soon escalate. And since this is a McDonagh movie, you better believe things get real dark.
The Banshees of Inisherin is one of the year’s best-reviewed movies, leading to strong awards chatter. It’s easy to see why as the cast put in faultless performances, while the excellent script balances the light and dark with aplomb. You’ll be laughing (even when you’re not sure you should), you’ll be crying and you’ll be captivated.
Ahead of its release in cinemas this Friday (October 21), Digital Spy sat down with Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson to talk about their In Bruges reunion, being mean and Colin’s eyebrows.
Congratulations on the movie, it’s absolutely terrific and has you laughing and crying, often in the same scene.
Colin Farrell: Same doing it!
When it came to the chance to bring back the In Bruges partnership, was there any hesitation on your part?
Farrell: No. Oh, everything but hesitation. I ran towards the opportunity. The only hesitation and little bit of trepidation that I had was because I knew it’d be fun, but knew it’d be a sad experience as well.
Martin builds these intricate, but very dark, corners and he throws you into them and asks you to work your way out. I knew it’d be tricky sometimes, but the idea of working again with B and Martin 14 years later was extraordinary.
Brendan Gleeson: It was pure anticipation and that was it, there was nothing else there.
Not sure how much you pay attention to online talk, because you’ve had the standing ovations, 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating, but it feels like a lot of people are talking about Colin’s eyebrows.
Farrell: [laughs] I’m aware my eyebrows have had a lot of press.
Did it feel like when you were doing this, you were doing the most eyebrow acting you’ve ever done?
Farrell: No, no, no, I could show you films where I’ve done more eyebrow acting. They just didn’t find the audience that this one has already.
Was it hard, Brendan, with Colin doing his best hurt puppy dog face, to be mean to him because you are friends in real life?
Gleeson: We had come to the conclusion that our job was to make each others’ lines hard to say. That did happen, yeah. I realised that it was up to me to stand my ground with my own character and stand four-square behind him and to fight his corners.
How many times do you have to be told just to leave it alone? Like, the guy isn’t listening. On the other hand, I’m looking at this heartbreak in front of me and how on Earth can you maintain this?
I’ve had those break-ups where you’re trying to negotiate something – ‘what is it?’ ‘it’s nothing about you’. Well, what is it then? We make a laugh about it…
Farrell: If you let someone [down] lightly, maybe they won’t land where they’re supposed to land.
Gleeson: It’s cruel. If you chop off at the knees, it looks like what Banshees of Inisherin looks like.
Farrell: The greatest mistake he makes is the next day, he tries to say to me, ‘Listen, I was out of order yesterday, I spoke too harshly’. I see that as, ‘Will we go and see a movie this weekend?’
Gleeson: That is interesting. I’d have been better off being the swine of the drama and saying, ‘No, that fellow isn’t worth bothering about’. Instead, I tried to lighten… and I bet you it was the eyebrows.
Farrell: It always comes back to the eyebrows.
Martin’s great that he never gives you easy answers in his movies.
Farrell: There’s no right or wrong, good guys and bad guys, absolutely.
When this comes out, what are you hoping audiences take away from it?
Gleeson: 15 minutes of silence followed by many hours of talk. That’s kind of what happened to me after watching it. I really didn’t want to say anything for 10 or 15 mins to process while it was going on, and then you begin to tease it out.
It’s really interesting, and the fantastic thing about cinema, is you can go and talk to 7 or 10 different people immediately afterwards, and you can talk to 30 people in the next couple of days after that, and they’ll all have an insight that maybe you wouldn’t have had or a take on it that you didn’t quite agree with.
That’s what I hope happens, and I’ve no doubt that it will.
Farrell: As long as they feel something that’s just not boredom. Our job is to approach the material as authentically as possible, and understand that the meaning will be derived in all sorts of ways by different people.
Gleeson: Just laughing at my wife’s reaction. It wasn’t entirely sympathetic to me.
Farrell: She thought you were brutal, didn’t she?
As long as she didn’t think you were like Colm in real life…
Gleeson: That it was a little bit bleeding over [laughs].
The obvious question is, will you already be looking at the third collaboration with Martin?
Gleeson: If you’re in this business long enough, you understand you can depend on absolutely nothing.
Farrell: Ball’s in his court very much, isn’t it.
Gleeson: It depends on how it works for him. He won’t come back with us until he’s happy.
Farrell: This was seven years in the making. It was seven years ago we read the first version of this, and I was ready to do this version, I think we both would have done that version. He thought it was shite. He just kept the first five minutes of that version.
Gleeson: He said it a few times, “I don’t want it to be worse than In Bruges“. Why would you go back to do something worse than In Bruges. He’s his own tough taskmaster on that. It’d be brilliant if we came back again.
The Banshees of Inisherin is released in cinemas on October 21.
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