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Irish comedy Colm Meany is thrilled to get back to work after lockdown as a gun-toting gangster


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Colm Meaney’s new film Pixie in now in cinemas

Colm Meaney’s new film Pixie in now in cinemas

Colm Meaney’s new film Pixie in now in cinemas

Colm Meaney has told how he relished the opportunity to play a reluctant gangster in a new Irish comedy.

Meaney's criminal takes on a bunch of gun-toting gangster priests in the wacky movie Pixie - but the burnt-out cook would really prefer to be at home watching Celebrity Bake-Off.

The Dubliner says he cackled while reading the script and signed up to join the starry cast which also includes Alec Baldwin, Pat Shortt and Olivia Cooke.

"He doesn't want to be actually going out and pistol whipping people and all that," joked the Dubliner. "He does so reluctantly. He's a gangster, but he's a bit weary of it all. And all he wants to do is stay at home and watch cooking shows and cook in his kitchen."

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Alec Baldwin features in the film with Colm

Alec Baldwin features in the film with Colm

Alec Baldwin features in the film with Colm

Meaney, who's previously played a Clannad- loving detective in Intermission and a colourful dad in The Snapper, has always embraced offbeat characters. He plays the dad of the title character Pixie (Cooke), a shrewd operator who uses her good looks to pull off a daring heist. The movie was shot in Belfast and Sligo last summer.

"Watching the film I was thrilled because it was such a great read when I was sent the script and you're always hoping that can be realised on screen. I have two daughters and I love the fact that it was a female-driven lead and such a great female character."

Like everyone in the movie business, Meaney spent months at home when filming was shut down globally and is glad to be back in front of the camera - but it hasn't been without complications.

He recently shot a movie in the UK which shut down for two weeks after one of the actors tested positive for Covid. Meaney had to self-isolate for two weeks as a close contact. Cast and crew typically undergo regular testing while filming a production.

"I've been tested up the kazoo. I've never had so many tests in my life. Our world shut down in March, nobody was doing anything. When everything shut down, everything that was planned for the rest of the year was 'will it happen? Won't it happen?' But now things that were in the works are finally coming through."

He feels the movie industry has been quite inventive in taking extra precautions and stringent measures to ensure filming could restart safely.

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Colm's new movie was shot in Sligo and Belfast

Colm's new movie was shot in Sligo and Belfast

Colm's new movie was shot in Sligo and Belfast

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"This set we're on, it's amazing. Everyone's got masks on and it's a bit hard from a social perspective, but there's very little mixing. Even on the sound stage, there's a one way walking system and arrows on the floor telling you which way to walk. You walk the wrong way, you'll get a boll***ing. That's what you've got to do to get back working - you accept that."

Meaney is an actor who likes to be busy and would typically have several film and TV projects lined up over the course of a year. He thought he'd struggle with an enforced period off work but found he quickly got used to it.

"It was very odd. You're right - when I finish a job I look forward to going home and putting my feet up for a bit. But I'm only good maybe three or four weeks, and I get twitchy. I want to do something. I thought I would go nuts in this lockdown. But then, in fact, I didn't. After about a month into it, I kind of accepted it. I said: 'I'm doing nothing, but that's what I'm supposed to be doing. So that's OK.' I kind of settled into it."

It meant he got to spend more time than usual with his family. "I think they were glad to see the back of me when I finally left!" he laughs. "We actually were very fortunate . The house we have is outside a town in Majorca so we're surrounded by countryside, we'd go for walks. We weren't stuck in an apartment in a big city. It was great to spend a lot of time together. We don't often get a chance to do that."

Like most of us, he spent the early days searching for shows and movies via the streaming giants.

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"This is something I think that Netflix does a great job on. I discovered a couple of wonderful Israeli TV shows, one called Fauda, I discovered some great Polish television, including a series about a news magazine. And a couple of Turkish shows, I mean, you know, shows you wouldn't get to see or wouldn't watch necessarily, without having a lot of time on your hands. And seeing really incredible actors that I've never seen before."

Meaney shone as the Elvis fanatic Jimmy Rabbitte Snr in The Commitments, often voted Ireland's most-loved film. He has fond memories of working with the film's director, Alan Parker, who died this summer.

"We knew each other quite well. I used to see him in Los Angeles before he moved back to London. I was very sad, very sad, to hear it. He was wonderful, Alan, a wonderful director and a wonderful human being. He took such great care of all those kids in The Commitments. And his body of work - he could go from The Wall, to Evita, to Mississippi Burning, to The Commitments. He was a wonderful nurturer of talent."

  • Pixie is now in cinemas.

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