“I just love the bones of him,” said Colin. “It’s really that simple. And we don’t see each other much”
Both Dubliners are in the Oscars conversation for their roles in The Banshees of Inisherin, with US pundits predicting the movie could secure several other nominations.
While Colin says he’s chuffed at the awards buzz, the real winner would be the film and the people in the West who made them feel welcome. “The celebratory aspect doesn’t start or finish with your individual experience,” he said.
“That would be the magic of any of that. It’s that kind of goodwill that we linked into this film. It’s that kind of goodwill that we were invited into in the hearts of the people on Inishmore and Achill Island.
“For a second do I think it means I’m a better actor than anyone else? No, of course not. But Jesus, is it a bit of craic now? Am I going to enjoy it? Am I going to get to hang out with him [Gleeson] a bit more?”
“It would be brilliant,” agreed Brendan. “I mean, the whole fuss around it can be a pain in the neck.
“It is thrilling in a way and whatever about the personal accolades, you kind of say, well something hit. We call them the last cast members, the audience, and you want it to hit. The Oscar thing, that’s part of the mechanism that allows you access to all those people.”
Word of mouth for The Banshees of Inisherin is justified, and both stars are terrific in writer-director Martin McDonagh’s dark and funny tale. It centres around two lifelong friends on a fictional West of Ireland island in the 1920s, whose lives are thrown into chaos when one of them dramatically decides to end their friendship.
In reality, the two stars are closer than ever, and the strong bond and affection between them when we meet in a Dublin hotel is very evident. It’s their first time acting together — and reuniting with McDonagh — since In Bruges 14 years ago.
Their sense of fun was also obvious when Brendan hosted top US comedy show Saturday Night Live recently, and his fellow Dubliner joined him. “It was his fault that I did it in the first place!” laughed Gleeson.
“I did have to kind of talk him around!” said Farrell. I was one of a battalion of people who were f***ing just inundating him with reasons why he needed to do Saturday Night Live.”
They say they have treasured spending much of the last few weeks together as they support the movie here and in the US. Because Colin is based in Los Angeles and Brendan in Dublin, they don’t often get to hang out together.
“I just love the bones of him,” said Colin. “It’s really that simple. And we don’t see each other much. Today is the last day.
“And then if we do a few Q and As, if they want to campaign for all that other s***e, then I’ll see him over there, that’d be great. He’ll be over in LA anyway, shooting over there. When we don’t see each other, it’s weird, but there’s a kind of a conversation I feel that continues by him living his life and me living my life.”
Brendan, too, has been enjoying the catch up and even finding out more about his acting pal during interviews.
“You’re doing it on the dance floor when you’re making the movie and then you get the off times when you have a bit of craic and stuff like that. But this has been an excuse to hang out with him during interviews. We find out a lot as well because we talk too much and we listen a lot.
“That’s kind of the way it works with us. With him I always feel I know he’s listening and I want to hear what comes back. I find it continuously educational!”
Their dynamic is no doubt a contributor to what makes their on-screen pairings on In Bruges and now Banshees so special. And when Colin’s simple farmer Pádraic is rejected by Colm, the man he has shared 2pm pints with for years, he is shaken to the core.
“We all got a kick in the bo****ks around Covid,” says Colin of the film’s focus on friendship.
“We realised through the absence of proximity, and touch and tenderness, and we realised how important those things are to us, something as simple as sitting with a friend for an hour or two. All that’s taken from my fella in this film in just a moment. He means the world to my fella — without him in my world there’s nothing to look forward to.”
While movies have always been fixated with the ending of love affairs, McDonagh’s film focuses on something we rarely see on screen — the end of a friendship.
“It was about, actually, the death of a core friendship, that is soured,” said Brendan. “It’s not only that it hasn’t been seen on screen, I think there’s no convention for it here. For the most part, all of these kind of conventions are built up around romantic break ups.”
Visually, Banshees is one of the most strikingly beautiful Irish movies ever made, and you can only imagine the film will do for the West what Star Wars did for Skellig or Game of Thrones for Northern Ireland. Like viewers will be, both men were struck by the beauty of Inishmore and Achill.
“It whispers to you and roars sometimes,” said Farrell. “It’s magic down there and honest to God the way Martin built Siobhan and Pádraic’s cottage right on the top, right on the crest of the island.
"That one shot at the start when she’s putting the clothes out to the line. The camera starts at the back door, looking through the back door through the kitchen to the front door and it comes up over the thatched roof and then you see Dun Aengus in the distance and the cliffs and all… f***ing hell. And that’s what we lived in — you never got to press play or stop on the experience of telling the story.”