The ac­tor and jazz pi­anist on work­ing with Martin McDon­agh and vis­it­ing Dublin to per­form with Imelda May

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - ON MY RADAR - SHILPAGANA­TRA


I re­cently read a book called Fan­ta­sy­land: How

Amer­ica Went Hay­wire by Kurt An­der­sen. It’s a very stim­u­lat­ing, thought-pro­vok­ing book on the na­ture of the Amer­i­can char­ac­ter from the very start of their Euro­pean ad­ven­ture. It re­ally ap­pealed to me es­pe­cially as I was do­ing this movie called The Moun­tain, which has themes of Amer­i­can fail­ings of one kind or an­other. Kurt is a heck of a thinker.


There’s a Thai restau­rant in a mini-mall in Los An­ge­les called Jit­lada that was rec­om­mended by [restau­rant critic] Jonathan Gold, who was the sub­ject of the doc­u­men­tary City of Gold. We did a 10-minute video of us cook­ing to­gether. He passed away a cou­ple of months ago, too early, but I have good mem­o­ries there.


Sarah Sil­ver­man, who plays on my al­bum. She’s not only a hi­lar­i­ous per­former but an in­ter­est­ing thinker and an ac­tivist. I like her very much; I’ve known her over the years and I’m so glad she was on the al­bum.


I keep re­vis­it­ing Death of a Sales­man by Arthur Miller. I saw it most re­cently as the pro­duc­tion of Mike Nichols be­fore he died, with Philip Sey­mour Hoff­man in the role of Willy Lo­man be­fore he died. It was fan­tas­tic. Also I did a play called The Pil­low­man by Martin McDon­agh, who wrote and di­rected Three Bill­boards

Out­side Eb­bing, Mis­souri. He spent ev­ery day with us on that play, so I came to know him and loved him very much. I love that play and I love all his plays. He’s found a unique, brave and high-in­tegrity artis­tic voice, and he can com­bine grotesque vi­o­lence with wild hu­mour. He’s so wildly tal­ented. Also Light at the Pi­azza is a mu­si­cal that drives me crazy with de­light, it’s a ro­man­tic mu­si­cal.


I re­visit the work of Philip Gus­ton who is a won­der­ful painter. And I love Fran­cis Ba­con, whose paint­ing are fea­tured at the start of The

Last Tango in Paris, a movie that I love. There’s no one like him. I loved see­ing pic­tures of his stu­dio as he worked a very chaotic way, but he was so bril­liant and gets to the depth of the hu­man soul some­how; our mad­ness, com­pli­ca­tion and the con­tra­dic­tory facets of the hu­man ex­pe­ri­ences.


I was just play­ing with the band, in­clud­ing Imelda May, with whom I am thrilled to work, in Paris, Ber­lin and Lon­don, and I liked all three of those cities. I was left with a very sweet taste in my mouth from the au­di­ences that came to our shows. Imelda is the cream of the crop, you don’t get bet­ter than her. I love her so much. She’s so much fun that I wish I could have gone out with her, but I had to go home and get my rest. But she said we should go to Dublin and play mu­sic there, so I want to fig­ure that out with her, I’d love to play in Ire­land.


Of course I love our al­bum a lot, and some­one just turned me on to the bal­lad al­bum that Johnny Hart­man and John Coltrane did to­gether. It’s a wildly ro­man­tic al­bum.

TV show

I watched ev­ery episode of Break­ing Bad .I came to know Bryan Cranston a bit dur­ing Isle

of Dogs, which was just nom­i­nated for a Golden Globe. He’s spec­tac­u­lar in Break­ing Bad and I love any­thing that he does.


I’m a fan of all the ac­tors in The Bal­lad of Buster

Scruggs. It’s the Coen Brothers’ episodic short films on Net­flix, and all the cast are won­der­ful, but I par­tic­u­larly loved see­ing Tom Waits again. He’s a mu­si­cian who I’ve ad­mired and I al­ways love to see him in movies. He worked with Robert Alt­man in Short Cuts too, which is a favourite of mine.

So­cial me­dia pro­file

Till Bron­ner, who plays on our al­bum and is the best trum­peter in the whole world, played again with us on this Euro­pean tour. He’s also a great pho­tog­ra­pher, so he’s a foun­tain of not only mu­si­cal in­spi­ra­tion but vis­ual bril­liance. He’s on In­sta­gram as @till­broen­ner­pho­tog­ra­phy

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