Barry Keoghan’s Amer­i­can crime story

The young Dubliner’s ex­cep­tional tal­ent is show­cased in Bart Lay­ton’s ‘Amer­i­can An­i­mals’. PAUL WHIT­ING­TON spoke to him

Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - CULTURE -

FJohn James Audubon’s Birds of Amer­ica, a rare, beau­ti­fully il­lus­trated and ex­ceed­ingly valu­able 19th cen­tury nat­u­ral his­tory book. “Spencer’s prob­lem is that he doesn’t have a prob­lem,” Barry ex­plains. “He’s had it easy and he’s look­ing for that hard­en­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that artists have. You know, Van Gogh cut­ting off his ear and all that, all the greats have this f***d up for­ma­tive ex­pe­ri­ence, and he doesn’t have that, so that’s what he thinks he needs.”

Bart Lay­ton’s de­ci­sion to in­ter­sperse his drama with rather som­bre face-to-face in­ter­views with the real char­ac­ters gives Amer­i­can An­i­mals emo­tional depth, and turns what might have been a glib farce into some­thing much more se­ri­ous.

“You see them crack in those in­ter­views,” Keoghan says, “you see them get up­set Sec­onds out (clock­wise from main pho­to­graph): Barry Keoghan in play­ful mood dur­ing a pub­lic­ity shoot for ‘Amer­i­can An­i­mals’; with Caoil­fhionn Dunne in ‘Love/Hate’; along­side Colin Far­rell in ‘The Killing of a Sa­cred Deer’; in ‘Dunkirk’; as a young Liver­pudlian sol­dier in ‘Black 47’; and with Even Peters in heist drama ‘Amer­i­can An­i­mals’ and it brings a fac­tor of re­al­ism to it. And when the rob­bery hap­pens it’s like be­ing stabbed, you know, all the colour goes out of the story in a way, so it was very clev­erly done I think.” It must have been tempt­ing for Barry and the other ac­tors to start drilling the real peo­ple they’re play­ing for in­for­ma­tion. “Bart wouldn’t let us talk to them, he kept us away from the char­ac­ters be­cause he didn’t want us im­i­tat­ing them ba­si­cally, be­cause as an ac­tor you’re go­ing to do that, you’re gonna pick up these traits. But these lads had had time to re­flect on what they’d done, and it’s ten or more years later, they’re dif­fer­ent dudes now, so it might not have been help­ful any­way. But if I’d had a choice I think I would have, be­cause you’re look­ing to scrape to­gether ev­ery bit of

Part­ner in crime: Barry Keoghan and Shona Guerin

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