Top 10 Favorite Irish Actors working in Hollywood today

Happy St Patrick’s Day everybody! According to this Guinness Store House sign, everyone’s Irish today 😀

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I hope you don’t mind me resurrecting this oldie-but-goodie list I did a while back, but I’ve been meaning to update ’em for some time. This list is limited to performers born and bred in Ireland (at least for most of their childhood), so not those of Irish-descent as it’d take this entire blog to list them all. For the most part, my list stay the same, but you can check out the original list and see who’ve been taken out of the list 😉

Here they are in random order:

  1. Colin Farrell
    ColinFarrellOf all the vile things Joel Schumacher is known for as a director, you could say that he has an eye for talent. He cast Farrell in Tigerland which got the Dublin native noticed. I first saw him in the sci-fi action Minority Report alongside Tom Cruise, and then the Terrence Malick’s The New World. His foray into historical action hero in Alexander was ridiculed panned by critics, and he nearly became a Hollywood cliche with his womanizing ways and drug/alcohol abuse, but he manage to maneuver a career comeback with his Golden-Globe-winning turn in the Irish black comedy In Bruges (2008). His career choices haven’t always been solid (Total Recall remake, Winter’s Tale), but he’s certainly a talented actor. I think he’s wonderful in Saving Mr. Banks.
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  2. Liam Neeson
    LiamNeesonProbably the most famous Irish actors of the bunch, Neeson is one of the hardest working actors right now. His diverse resume is impressive by any thespian standard. From historical figures (Michael Collins, Rob Roy, Schindler’s List), comic-book villain (Batman Begins), to playing bad-ass action star hell-bent on revenge (Taken), Neeson adds gravitas to any role he’s in. Can’t wait to see him as Zeus bellowing ‘Release the Kraken!!!’ in Clash of the Titans. The 61-year-old still looks amazing and obviously has the um, special skills to kick ass. Hollywood offered him to be the next action hero with Taken and he hasn’t looked back since. He probably will be doing action fares like Taken 254 & counting, or a variation of that genre, just like he did with Non-Stop. He’s definitely more watchable than a lot of younger action stars these days anyway, so why not?
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  3. Saoirse Ronan
    SaoirseRonanShe may be only nineteen, but Ronan’s got that wise-beyond-her-years thing going for her, plus enormous talent to boot. She was phenomenal in Atonement as the little girl who couldn’t quite figure out how to channel her attraction to the opposite sex that led to disastrous consequences. She pretty much comes out unscathed even when The Lovely Bones bombed artistically and financially. Since Atonement, Ronan has worked for director Joe Wright again in Hanna as a 14-year old assassin. Boy, talk about range. She’s more than able to hold her own against the likes of Cate Blanchett. Since then, she continues to impress me in The Way Back, How I Live Now, as well as in the small role in The Grand Budapest Hotel. I wish there were more Irish ladies working in Hollywood today so miss Ronan isn’t alone on this list, but she’s the only one so far whose work I really admire.
    ….
  4. Cillian Murphy
    CillianMurphyMost people recognize him as Scarecrow in Batman Begins, but his memorable role is perhaps in the zombie flick 28 Days Later. His impossibly chiseled cheekbones and dramatic eyes somehow make him the perfectly creepy yet sophisticated villain, as he displayed in the horror/thriller Red Eye. Renowned directors such as Christopher Nolan and Danny Boyle obviously like working with him, as he’s done two movies for Boyle (Sunshine & 28 Days Later) and Nolan also cast him in his Batman trilogy and Inception. Even in a mediocre movie like In Time, Murphy is usually the best thing in it.
    ….
  5. Michael Fassbender
    MichaelFassbender(Ed note: Though he’s born in Germany, Fassbender is half-Irish and was raised in southwest Ireland)
    I’ve mentioned this guy A LOT on my blog lately and for good reason, he’s definitely eye-candy material but with acting chops to boot. Thanks to Zach Snyder for casting such great actors in 300 even in smaller roles, as I definitely noticed Fassbender as the loyal and valiant Stelios. He’s then proved his amazing range in transformational role in Hunger, and another indie darling Fish Tank which won him several nods from various European Film Festivals. He’s in yet another swords-n-sandals movie Centurion, but he definitely made an impression in Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. He’s come a looong way since I put him on the original list 3 years ago. His versatility is always on display, whether in costume drama Jane Eyre (as the Byronic hero Rochester) or as a superhero villain Magneto in X-Men: First Class. He even garnered an Oscar nomination for his work in 12 Years A Slave.
    ….
  6. Gabriel Byrne
    GabrielByrneI first noticed Byrne in The Point of No Return as Bridget Fonda’s sympathetic mentor. He may not always get the lead roles, but you always remember him (The Man in the Iron Mask, Little Women, The Usual Suspect, and Miller’s Crossing) The charismatic 63-year-old actor definitely still got the looks to go with all that talent, he won a Golden Globe last year for his performance as a psychotherapist in the HBO drama In Treatment. I cast him in one of my movie pitches, I think he’d be great in a crime noir like this one, wouldn’t you think?
    ….
  7. Ciarán Hinds
    You may not know his name, but you certainly recognize this tall, dark and handsome Belfast native. His dark look makes him suitable to play people from different nationalities: English (Phantom of the Opera, Amazing Grace), (Israeli (Munich), Roman (as Julius Caesar in HBO’s Rome), Russian (The Sum of All Fears), and that’s just a sampling. His new indie flick set in his native homeland The Eclipse (NOT Twilight 3) is to be released this weekend. Glad to see him get the lead role for a change, hope he’d get another one in the future.
    ….
  8. Kenneth Branagh
    KenBranaghFor all the Shakespearean work he’s done (Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet), I initially thought Branagh was an Englishman. The RADA-educated actor had his start in theater when he joined The Royal Shakespeare Company at 23. Soon after he formed his own performance art company called The Renaissance Theatre Company, which counts Prince Charles as one of its royal patrons. He surely brought some of that artsy and sophisticated sensibilities into the comic book adaptation Thor. He’s more than capable doing double duties as actor and director, which he did in the recent reboot of the Jack Ryan movie Shadow Recruit.
    ….
  9. Brendan Gleeson
    BrendanGleesonThis character actor is always fun to watch even in a small role, i.e. as Alastor ‘Mad-­Eye’ Moody in Harry Potter series. But my favorite performance of his would have to be In Bruges with Colin Farrell. I’ve been meaning to see The Guard for ages but it’s not available to rent on iTunes, so I might have to bug my friend who has the Netflix dvd subscription to rent it for me. I’ve been dying to see what happens to At Swim-Two-Birds, which was supposed to be his directorial debut. I blogged about it 2 years ago and still no new news on that one 😦 Just check out the amazing Irish cast on that one, who wouldn’t want to see that come to life.
    ….
  10. Michael Gambon
    MichaelGambonI first noticed the 74-year-old thespian as the evil tobacco executive in Michael Mann’s The Insider. He’s one of those actors who makes an impact even in a brief appearance. Some of his memorable supporting roles are The Wings of the Dove, Charlotte Gray, The King’s Speech and the latest one I saw was in Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut Quartet. He’s probably most well-known to mass audiences as Albus Dumbledore, when he replaced fellow Irishman the late Richard Harris in the Harry Potter series.

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HONORABLE MENTIONS: Chris O’Dowd, Richard Harris, Ray Stevenson, Stephen Rea, Aidan Quinn, and Pierce Brosnan.


So, in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day (or just the love for the Irish), who are YOUR favorite Irish actors?

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Introducing… Traveling Through Cinema: In Bruges

Hello everybody! I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while so today I’m starting a new feature on FlixChatter! Not sure how often I’ll have this, probably once a month or a couple times a month, we’ll see 🙂

Well, since I love both movies and travel, why not combine those two passions? Inspired by my recent viewing of The Wings of the Dove which has a gorgeous scenery of Venice, I might as well start this feature this week. But for the feature debut, I want to do a movie that I saw on the plane which inspires me to actually visit later this year (God willing).

So… I present to you the beautiful scenery of …

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In Bruges was set in the picturesque city in Belgium and it’s practically one of the stars in the movie! Located in the northwest side of Belgium, the historic city center is a prominent World Heritage Site of UNESCO since 2000 (per Wiki). I marvel at the beautiful Medieval architecture and the gorgeous canals that were used for transportation, no wonder it’s dubbed the Venice of the North.

I love how the characters are also tourists from Belfast so we could live vicariously through them as we watch the movie. It’s a nice bonus to see such a beautifully-shot film that’s also loaded with such witty dialog (albeit too foul-mouthed for my liking, but I guess I have to live with that). Even in the opening sequence when Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) just arrive in town, the dialog is hilarious! By the order of their boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes), the two Irish hitmen are sent to lay low in the Medieval town in Belgium. Ken was pretty glad about the prospect of spending a fortnight there, but Ray doesn’t share his sentiment.

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Ray: Bruges is a shithole.
Ken: Bruges *is* not a shithole.
Ray: Bruges *is* a shithole.
Ken: Ray, we only just got off the f****** train! Could we reserve judgement on Bruges until we’ve seen the f****** place?

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I’ll be sure to visit this site when it gets closer to my travel date to Bruges, as it has all the filming locations and the scenes where they appear. But for this post, I just want to capture the glorious scenery of the film… both day and night.

Bruges during the day…

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Director Martin McDonaugh goofing off with his cast on set.

Yeah Brendan, I’d be laughing too if I get to spend weeks filming in Bruges!

Bruges at Night …

It’s so picturesque during the day, but at night this city is even more breathtakingly beautiful.

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This one has got to be one of the funniest scenes in the film.

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Ticket Seller: The tower is closed this evening.
Ken: No way, it’s supposed to be open until seven.
Ticket Seller: The tower is usually open until seven, yesterday an American had a heart attack at the tower, today the tower is closed.
Harry: [Harry hands ticket seller 100 Euros] Here cranky, here’s a hundred for you. Were only gonna be twenty minutes.
Ticket Seller: [crumples the money and throws it at Harry’s head]
Ticket Seller: [tapping on Harry’s forehead] The tower… is closed… this evening! Understand? English man!

The Bell Tower ticket guy obviously has no clue about Harry and what he could do, which makes the whole thing even more hilarious!! Brendan Gleeson’s expression in this whole scene is just priceless! I certainly hope when I get to the tower, the attendant wouldn’t be such a jerk, ahah.

Romance In Bruges

Since the film was set during the Christmas Holidays, the lights makes it even more stunning, not to mention romantic. Clemence Posey and Colin Farrell have an effortless chemistry… made even more bewitching by the glorious setting around them.

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In Bruges is destined to be a cult classic thanks to Martin McDonaugh‘s direction, but given the nature of the post, I have to shine a spotlight to the cinematographer: Eigil Bryld. Here’s a short bio on the Danish cinematographer per Focus Features:

Eigil Bryld previously was cinematographer on Julian Jarrold’s Becoming Jane for In Bruges producers Graham Broadbent and Pete Czernin. He also shot the same director’s Kinky Boots. His other feature credits as cinematographer include James Marsh’s The King, starring Gael García Bernal and William Hurt; Hella Joof’s Oh Happy Day; and Scott Burns’ The Half Life of Timofey Berezin.

In 2003, Mr. Bryld won the award for Most Innovating Cinematography at the Madridimagen Festival in Madrid, for his work on Dariusz Steiness’ Charlie Butterfly. In 2001, he received a BAFTA Award for his work on James Marsh’s Wisconsin Death Trip.

Can you believe it he received NO award nor even nominations for his work in In Bruges?? What a travesty!

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McDonaugh at the belfry of Bruges, or Belfort, a medieval bell tower in the historical center of Bruges

If you haven’t seen In Bruges, yet. I highly recommend it. I don’t know why it took me so long to finally see it. I’d definitely re-watch this again on Blu-ray so I can really appreciate some of the details, those small TV screen on the plane just doesn’t do it justice!

Image sources: Fanpop.com, Blu-ray.com
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I hope you’ve enjoyed living vicariously through these pictures. Let me know your thoughts on the movie or if you’ve been to Bruges, feel free to share your experience there.

Upcoming Flix Spotlight: Brendan Gleeson’s Passion Project At Swim Two Birds

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I’d highlight an upcoming Irish film starring actors and this one has been on my radar for some time, thanks to my Cillimaniac friend Novia 🙂

This project is actor Brendan Gleeson’s passion project he’s been working for quite a long time. And according to my friend Stella’s @ Byrneholics, Ireland’s Cultural Ambassador Gabriel Byrne announced that Gleeson has secured funding for the movie, yay!

Mr. Byrne himself is to be a part of the most awesome Irish ensemble cast ever! I mean we’re talking the who’s who of Irish cinema (most of whom are in my Top 10 Irish Actors list :D):

From top left: Byrne, Gleeson, Cillian Murphy, Colin Farrell, Michael Fassbender, Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Most of those actors have worked with Gleeson in various films. Gleeson’s son Domhnall (Bill Weasley in Harry Potter Part 7) has also been cast.

Whew! This is one of those movies that I’d run to the theater just for the cast and of course the Irish scenery as it’s likely to be filmed there.

The premise itself sounds intriguing. Here’s the book description from Amazon:

A wildly comic send-up of Irish literature and culture, At Swim-Two-Birds is the story of a young, lazy, and frequently drunk Irish college student who lives with his curmudgeonly uncle in Dublin. When not in bed (where he seems to spend most of his time) or reading he is composing a mischief-filled novel about Dermot Trellis, a second-rate author whose characters ultimately rebel against him and seek vengeance. From drugging him as he sleeps to dropping the ceiling on his head, these figures of Irish myth make Trellis pay dearly for his bad writing. Hilariously funny and inventive, At Swim-Two-Birds has influenced generations of writers, opening up new possibilities for what can be done in fiction. It is a true masterpiece of Irish literature.

Gleeson told Collider whilst promoting The Guard last August that “It’s one of the funniest and most anarchic novels I’ve ever read… It’s a great book but it’s kind of unfilmable in the way that the book was unwriteable.” But he confirmed that he’s got the script and so it’s just a matter of time for this project to be underway.

So how close to filming is this project?

“Well, fingers crossed, we’re trying to stitch it in this year. All things are going well but we’re not quite there yet. We’re hoping to be there in the next month or two to where we put a start date on it,” Gleeson said (via Irish Central). According to BBC UK back in Summer 2011, they’ve secured the funds for the project, but there hasn’t been any news since 😦

Mr Gleeson himself has been quite prolific lately, starring in three films in 2011: The Guard, Albert Nobbs, and The Cup, Safe House & The Raven in 2012  and The Calvary in 2014.

Oh man, I sure hope this film gets off the ground soon! I absolutely can’t wait to hear more about this one and hopefully filming happens soon and all the cast above will be involved!


What do you think folks? Interested in this one?