John Connors gets a standing ovation for his rousing IFTAs acceptance speech

The Cardboard Gangsters star gets political as he accepts Best Actor award.

John Connors of the gritty Darndale-set Cardboard Gangsters was awarded the Best Actor gong at last night’s Irish Film and Television Awards. Beginning his acceptance speech in the standardised way of thanking the film’s team, he then used the opportunity to bring attention to the Film Board’s particular and safe funding choices. Connors noted that, “They turned us down. They couldn’t understand our approach.” But, it’s him who’s laughing now, as the film sees success after success, smashing at the box office.

Not only does Connors make a jab at the lack of diversity in the Film Board’s selections, he sheds light on the challenges he faces as an Irish Traveller trying to find representation in the industry: “Despite the fact that I can’t get an agent to represent me, and no filmmakers or casting directors will look past the fact that I am a Traveller, this is still a huge moment for me.” Acting, for Connors, was a way out of a tough situation. Creativity lifted him from Darndale where he was “in a box bedroom in the darkness, contemplating suicide.” But for some, creativity is not enough to keep their mental health in check, so Connors makes his last, powerful remark by addressing the lack of support in this country: “Our government is never going to do anything about the mental health crisis. Our reptilian, psychopathic government.” He follows this by dedicating the award to his late father, who died by suicide.

These memorable insights are something that Connors and Cardboard Gangsters director Mark O’Connor touched on previously with Hot Press. You can read that interview here. Also, in the spirit of being thankful, we’re thankful for something too— the commitment that was needed by this film's team to get it made.


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