Martin McDonagh on ‘fun’ reunion with Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson

The filmmaker worked with the two actors previously back in 2008 (Picture: Rex/Getty)

Director Martin McDonagh has spoken about the enduring friendship between Irish stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson and what it was like working together once more on The Banshees of Inisherin.

McDonagh’s latest film, which charts the breakdown of a relationship between lifelong friends when Colm (Gleeson) abruptly decides to sever ties with Pádraic (Farrell) – leading to shocking consequences – has been nominated for nine Oscars and 10 Baftas, making it a frontrunner this awards season.

Farrell and Gleeson have been recognised for their acting performances, alongside co-stars Barry Keoghan and Kerry Condon, while McDonagh has nods for directing, writing and best film – as well as outstanding British film of the year at the Baftas.

The 52-year-old filmmaker and playwright first teamed up with Gleeson and Farrell 14 years previously for black comedy crime caper In Bruges, where the pair played an inexperienced hitman and his mentor hiding out in the Belgian city following a botched job.

This time around, McDonagh reveals that the duo were ‘as close as ever’, although they did initially consider trying to keep their distance to help with the growing resentment between their characters.

Speaking during a virtual Bafta panel with his fellow directing nominees ahead of the awards ceremony on Sunday, McDonagh said of Farrell and Gleeson’s working relationship: ‘It hadn’t really changed at all – they are as close as friends as they were before.

In Bruges (2008) Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell

Gleeson and Farrell in In Bruges, a beloved black comedy where they played friends and hitman colleagues (Picture: Jaap Buitendijk)
McDonagh has directed both the actors to an Oscar nomination this time around, as well as their co-stars Barry Keoghan and Kerry Condon (Picture: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

‘I know that before they started shooting, they wondered if they might have to step apart and not be as close as they were on In Bruges. But they quickly realised that wouldn’t be much fun and they were just going to act it.’

‘That was a lot happier for me too because it meant we could go out for drinks in the evening!’ he joked.

‘But no, it hadn’t changed – they were really supportive of each other, to the rest of the cast, to me. Just lovely people to work with. I recommend them to all the directors here!’

In The Banshees of Inisherin, Colm (Gleeson) instigates a friendship break-up with Pádraic (Farrell), much to his dismay (Picture: Searchlight Pictures via AP)

At the ceremony itself this weekend at London’s Royal Festival Hall, Bafta Backstage Studio host Alison Hammond has already said she has her eye on the Irishmen, revealing: ‘I quite like Brendan Gleeson. So I go from him to a bit of Colin Farrell, and then I go from Colin Farrell to a little bit of Daryl McCormack.

‘I’m going to have to remain professional, and I will be bringing my professionalism, because this is Bafta, this ain’t no joke!’

Sadly, The Banshees of Inisherin was hit with a loss last week following the death of co-producer James Flynn aged 57.

He died of an unknown illness, his production company Metropolitan Films confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter, and is survived by his wife Juanita Wilson and children Alex and Anna.

The Banshees of Inisherin is available to stream on Disney Plus now. The Baftas will be broadcast on Sunday at 7pm on BBC One and iPlayer.

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