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Thurles thes­pian Kerry Con­don on her Run­way suc­cess

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Front Page -

WILL SUC­CESS change Kerry Con­don? Not bloody likely. When your def­i­ni­tion of suc­cess is “spend­ing time with pets and fam­ily and all the shit peo­ple tell you is im­por­tant but you never be­lieve them”, a suc­cess­ful Hol­ly­wood ca­reer is nei­ther here nor there.

“What suc­cess?” laughs the Tip­per­ar­ian. “I look at my CV and think ‘Je­sus, I’ve done noth­ing at all.’ I know peo­ple are a bit sur­prised by me. I was al­ways the quiet one in my fam­ily. And I don’t think any­one thought I would make it as far as I have. But I knew I would. I al­ways knew it even if no­body else did.”

True, Con­don’s as­cent has been stealth­ier than the blaz­ing trails left by her In­ter­mis­sion col­leagues Colin Far­rell and Cil­lian Mur­phy. But the com­pany she keeps is re­veal­ing. To date she can count Paul Gia­matti, He­len Mir­ren, Christo­pher Plum­mer, Mor­gan Free­man, Frances McDor­mand and Jet Li among her movie co-stars. This year she’ll ap­pear in mul­ti­plexes op­po­site Sean Penn in Paolo Sor­rentino’s This Must Be the Place and on TV with Nick Nolte and Dustin Hoff­man in Michael Mann’s and David Milch’s Luck.

“I love work­ing with older es­tab­lished ac­tors,” she gushes. “A lot of younger ac­tors now – par­tic­u­larly the boys – I don’t get on so well with. They’re so con­fi­dent, and a lot of them just re­ally want to be fa­mous. They don’t want to do theatre, they don’t want to put in the work; they don’t re­ally want to act at all. They’re ready for fame. It hap­pens overnight and they’re so primed, so trained. They want to walk out of the su­per­mar­ket and get their pic­ture taken; they want to get the free shit clothes. But that’s okay that younger ac­tors are like that. Ha. Saves me sleep­ing around.”

At 28, a decade in the film busi­ness and life in Los An­ge­les has had no im­pact on her na­tive Thurles ac­cent or her ca­pac­ity for plain-speak­ing. She loves her job but has no in­ter­est in celebrity, awards, or “any of that crap”. She can’t un­der­stand why any­one would want to be fa­mous. If any­thing, she says, fame can only get in the way of the work.

“Liv­ing in LA and mak­ing films with fa­mous peo­ple is just an­other way of liv­ing,” she says. “It doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily make you any bet­ter than some­one who is an ac­coun­tant. The ac­tresses I re­ally like – Emily Wat­son, Frances McDor­mand, Ju­lianne Moore, Sa­man­tha Mor­ton, who floors me ev­ery time I watch her, who creeps me out she’s so good – I don’t know who those women are mar­ried to. It’s not good to be over­ex­posed. It’s not good for your work to be turn­ing up on ev­ery mag­a­zine. Kate Winslet gets in­cred­i­ble roles, is very in­tense and her ac­cent is al­ways good – I don’t know why she wants to be on the cover of In Style. You’re amaz­ing. Stop try­ing to make peo­ple like you. Why is it so im­por­tant to be the pretty girl on the mag­a­zine too? Who cares?”

Good as her word, Con­don is happy to be “con­trary” about the roles she is of­fered, and fre­quently turns up her nose at high-pro­file pay-cheque gigs.

“I’m able to work and make money with­out all that. And I’m get­ting very fussy in my old age. I got an­other script the other day for a dire ro­man­tic com­edy with Cameron Diaz. Now I’ll prob­a­bly watch it and end up and en­joy­ing it when it comes out. I’m pure girlie that way. But I can’t play that stuff. I can’t do those gags when there’s no truth to the scene or what­ever.”

In real life, Kerry Con­don de­tests hav­ing her pho­to­graph taken, used the back door to leave this year’s Golden Globes to go home for her din­ner and feels un­com­fort­able when peo­ple recog­nise her on the street.

“What’s ter­ri­ble is that I’m naked in ev­ery­thing I do. I know they’ve seen me with no clothes on and they know I know.”

But as an ac­tor Kerry Con­don is never self­con­scious. In­spired by the arm­fuls of videos her mother would rent, she knew early on she wanted to act. By her teens she was writ­ing let­ters to direc­tors and pro­duc­ers.

“I still do that,” she laughs. “I write to Lynne Ram­say quite a bit be­cause I re­ally want to work with her. I wrote to Alan Parker for my first job. It’s very naive when I think of it but I re­ally wanted to be an ac­tor and I was in Tip­per­ary, so it seemed like a good idea. I wanted to work. Other peo­ple try to grow up by go­ing out drink­ing or go­ing out with no knick­ers. I just wanted to get out there. I sup­pose I was driven.”

She must have done some­thing right. At 16 she was cast as the con­sump­tive teen se­duc­tress who pounces on Frank McCourt in An­gela’s Ashes; at 19 she orig­i­nated the role of Mairead in Martin McDon­agh’s The Lieu­tenant of Inish­more, be­came the Royal Shake­speare Com­pany’s youngest ever Ophe­lia, and starred along­side Heath Ledger and Naomi Watts in Ned Kelly. She re­mained friendly with the late Aus­tralian star af­ter the shoot.

“I think of him as be­ing re­ally young. He was still fig­ur­ing things out as an ac­tor and as a per­son.”

She’s not a method ac­tor, but she likes to stay fo­cused. Tellingly, Sean Penn never heard her Ir­ish ac­cent on the set of This Must Be the Place. “It was a part that I read and I knew I could do it as well and bet­ter than any­one. I knew that feel­ing of be­ing de­pressed and lonely and not con­nect­ing with your fam­ily and peo­ple around you. I was so happy to get it. Paulo [Sor­rentino] was

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