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Lifestyle & Leisure

Irish dark comedy is on the button Stateside

Wednesday, 13th March, 2019 4:39pm

America loves the Irish, so they say.

It’s the accent. The mythology. The perceived otherness of Ireland and its diaspora’s historical imprint on the American nation.

But what about Irish movies? Does the Irish lilt, wit and humour resonate with movie-goers Stateside?

Indie film ‘Misty Button’ is set to find out just that when it premieres this weekend. Screening on none other than St Patrick’s Day at the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival in California, the dark comedy stars Cork actors Cillian O’Sullivan and Shaun Kennedy as two Irish émigrés who fall into crisis after pocketing a hefty sum of money given to them to place a horseracing bet.

Although shot in the Big Apple, the film has Irish fingerprints all over; as well as the Cork connections of its two leading actors, ‘Misty Button’ was directed by Tralee native Seanie Sugrue and produced by Bertie Brosnan, also from Tralee.

Chatting with actor Cillian O’Sullivan, who talks to me over the phone from New York, it seems any fears that the film would not appeal to the American masses were misplaced.

“Getting into the festival, which is very selective, means they must be getting the humour,” he says.

“Usually something that’s Irish doesn’t translate too well to Americans, but clearly it has, and I think there’s a great chance the American audiences will really like it.

“Initially I was worried that it might go over their heads. Whereas in Ireland you’re just one of the lads, as an Irish person in the US, people think you’re just so funny! And I think Seanie did a great job of translating that through the script.”

Born in New York to parents from Ballinlough, O’Sullivan moved back to Ireland aged nine, returning to his birth city a year and a half ago to further his acting.

The 29 year old’s burgeoning career has seen him feature in acclaimed historical drama ‘Vikings’ and BBC series ‘6Degrees’, and he also appeared in the 2017 IRA prison escape film ‘Maze’ with Love/Hate star Tom Vaughan-Lawlor.

Pursuing acting is as cut-throat as you’d imagine, O’Sullivan says, especially in a hyper-competitive city like New York, where you’re up against “some of the most beautiful and talented people in the world” at each audition.

On an optimistic note, however, he is coming to the end of a busy US pilot season (when many TV show roles are up for grabs), his first since he moved back across the Atlantic.

“I’ve had pretty much the most auditions I’ve ever had in any period of time. It is difficult to deal with consistent rejections, when it’s something you love, and when you know that…if I’d gotten any of the things I’ve gone for the last few months, my career would’ve changed, my bank account would have changed, my life would’ve changed.

“But you have to let that go. You have to see an audition as allowing yourself to do what you love, rather than as a job interview. I try to stay positive. Otherwise it’ll break you, and you’ll end up doing an office job just to get money, and that’s not what I want to do with my life. You just have to keep working your ass off.”

O’Sullivan says he quickly got on board with ‘Misty Button’ after reading the “amazing script”, (“I didn’t care what the money was or anything - once I read it I just wanted to do it really badly!”), even sending a seven-minute video telling them why he was right for the role along with his audition video.

Shot in just nine days, ‘Misty Button’ will having some US showings in the coming months, with the hope of securing a wider cinematic release and eventually making its way to Irish shores.

Despite his inherent Irishness, O’Sullivan says he didn’t find it difficult adjusting to the American way when he moved back, and was never struck by homesickness, although he admits he has had to “tone down” his sarcasm a little:

“I had to adjust my mocking humour a bit, because some people just think you’re trying to hurt their feelings! But I just walk around and see at the buildings, the taxis, the noise; for me personally, it is still my home. Ireland is also obviously my home, but I always sort of dreamt of coming back to New York, and it’s everything I thought it would be.”

‘Misty Button’ shows this St Patrick’s Day at the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival in California.

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