- 06 Apr 10
The alpha and omega of Irish leading men, Cillian Murphy and Brendan Gleeson, talk about their latest film Perrier's Bounty, an Irish gangster flick with shades of Guy Richie.
It’s a freezing cold December morning in Shoreditch, London and Brendan Gleeson, national treasure, top actor and all round good guy, is getting ready to open fire on a dog.
“I thought it might be fun to get back in touch with my inner psycho,” explains Gleeson later.
The canine assault, we should explain, takes place on the set of Perrier’s Bounty, a new Irish crime flick from director Ian Fitzgibbon and screenwriter Mark O’Rowe. This being the movies, London is standing in for Dublin and the animal in question has retreated to his trailer long before Messrs. Gleeson and Fitzgibbon have started shooting in either sense of the word.
“The trouble with dogs is that they’ll only work short hours,” says the actor. “Once they do their scene they want a walk and once it’s two in the morning, the dogs want their bed. They get knackered and leave us to it.”
Cast from the same mould as Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, Perrier’s Bounty heaps tremendous misfortunes upon its hero. By the end of the first act Michael Mc Crea, played with characteristic charm by Cillian Murphy, owes the film’s titular villain (Brendan Gleeson) a stack of money and one henchman. Worse, the girl next door and object of Michael’s affections (Jodie Whittaker) is now involved, as is Michael’s estranged dad (Jim Broadbent) who pops up to philosophise about a recent dream.
There are botched robberies, failed suicide attempts, visions of death and packs of killer dogs as the drama unfolds, but Perrier’s Bounty is ultimately making its way toward a grand showdown.
“It’s unique alright,” notes Cillian Murphy as he makes us tea in the comparatively tropical confines of his trailer.
“It was all about the script,” he says. “I’d already worked with Mark (O’Rowe) on Intermission and I remember him talking about the idea way back then, about these three characters on the run but with a metaphysical twist. And once I saw the words on the page and how dark and funny the script was, I was more than happy to get onboard.”
It didn’t hurt, of course, that the project allowed Murphy to spend time at home before the maelstrom surrounding Christopher Nolan’s incoming Inception hits all known media come July.
“I’d never take work just for that reason,” he says. “There has to be work worth doing. But the prospect of getting back to Dublin and working with actors I’ve worked with many times over the years was fun. I don’t know how many times I’m going to get to look at Brendan Gleeson or Liam Cunningham or Michael McElhatton on a set but I’m always happy when it happens. The trailer isn’t as good as you get with Christopher Nolan, but on smaller budgeted films like Perrier’s, you’re working longer hours so you never get to spend time here anyway. And it’s great that there’s a little community going.”
Following on from The Tale of Sweety Barrett, Cold Mountain, 28 Days Later and Breakfast on Pluto, Perrier’s Bounty marks the fifth time that Murphy and Gleeson have worked together since 1998; it is, in many respects, a logical partnership. Both actors alternate mainstream Hollywood roles with smaller, Irish projects and both live quiet private lives with their respective wives and kids. The pair will, all going well, reteam for Mr. Gleeson’s hotly anticipated directorial debut, an adaptation of Flann O’Brien’s At Swim, Two Birds later this year.
“Hopefully things will finally happen,” says the actor turned writer-director. “It’s three years since we sat down for a read through.”
Does it help that he can call on former cohorts such as Cillian and Colin Farrell?
“Well, that helps more generally,” says Gleeson. “It helps that there’s a clatter of us getting work all over the place. You won’t forget about us that way.”
For the moment, there is Green Zone, in which Mr. Gleeson does sterling work as a CIA bureau chief in Iraq, and Perrier’s Bounty, an indigenous film that has high expectations attached. At a time when superior excellent Irish titles as One Hundred Mornings and The Fading Light are struggling to find even limited distribution, Perrier’s has been picked up for a theatrical run in the UK through Optimum Films.
You can see why foreign bodies are interested; in addition to the profile of the cast the black caper is director Ian Fitzgibbon’s follow-up to the cult hit, A Film With Me In It. The film is also notable as playwright Mark O’Rowe’s third screenplay (following on from 2003’s groundbreaking Intermission and his award winning 2007 adaptation of Jonathan Trigell’s Boy A).
“I really liked what Mark did with the character,” says Gleeson. “(Perrier) is a thug and a villain but his has this notion of himself that’s entirely different. He thinks that’s he’s loyal and sensitive and non-homophobic. So it’s very smart writing. It throws you. You don’t know where you stand with this guy for a long time. I had to play it straight, you know? There was enough going on that you didn’t need to be mugging at the camera as well or playing for laughs.”
“It’s very layered writing,” agrees co-star Murphy. “It’s ultimately kind of a western because you’re heading for a big showdown and a wild frontier. I loved all that boy’s own stuff – that I got to run around and shoot guns and drive cars. But it was also really appealing that everything in the film takes place in two days so everybody is sleep deprived to an extent that messes with their minds.”
He laughs. “There’s something about falling around in a state that really seems to appeal to us actors.”
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