By David Hennessy
Well known for playing Teddy O’Donovan in Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or winning war of independence and civil war film, The Wind That Shakes the Barley, Padraic Delaney is soon to be seen on the London stage alongside Daniel Radcliffe in The Cripple of Inishmaan.
Padraic has also starred in TV’s The Tudors, Legend and Raw and was most recently seen playing the rugby coach in the phenomenally successful, What Richard Did.
Padraic was nominated for two IFTAs, Best Actor in a Supporting Role and Breakthrough Talent, as well as being honoured as the Irish Shooting Star for 2007 by the Berlin International Film Festival and also collected the Irish World Award for Rising Star for his work on The Wind The Shakes The Barley. The Irish World caught up with the Wexford actor as he prepares to play Babbybobby in Martin McDonagh’s tale of young cripple Billy as he vies to be a part of a film being shot on the nearby island of Inishmore.
The Cripple of Inishmaan continues a season of five plays at the Noel Coward Theatre in London’s West End. The fifteen month long season also includes A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Sheridan Smith and David Walliams and completing the season is Jude Law in the title role of Shakespeare’s Henry V.
“It is (exciting),” the actor begins. “We had Martin in with us for the first week as well which was really cool: To have him there just in case there were any questions. I’ve been a massive fan of his for a long time as well so not only to do one of his best plays, one of his best works but to have him there was just a really treat. I love the play. It’s hilarious. It’s so funny, it’s one of the funniest plays I’ve ever seen. There’s a real cruelty to the play and to some of the characters but people will be falling out of their seats with laughter.. I hope.
“I love it (the role of Babbybobby). There’s a fierceness to all of the characters and especially to Babbybobby. He’s had a hard life, his wife has died of TB. Well he’s had a hard life anyway because he rows a boat over and back to the mainland from Inishmaan so he’s weather beaten and climate beaten and life has given him a bit of a beating. He’s got a good heart as well as you will see in the play. He helps out the cripple in a time of need. It’s been great playing it. I’ve loved it. We’ve got another two weeks to go, there’s still a bit of discovering to do but we’re in a great place.”
The excellent cast also includes Ingrid Craigie, Sarah Greene, Gillian Hanna, Gary Lilburn, Conor MacNeill, Pat Shortt and the well known star of a certain series of films about a wizard. “That’s right, there’s a fella called Daniel Radcliffe in it,” Padraic jokes when The Irish World mentions the Harry Potter star. “He’s brilliant. He’s a lovely, lovely guy. You forget after day one that he’s this movie star. I just know him as Dan now, another member of the cast and a lovely, genuine guy and a great actor, it should be said. A fantastic actor.
I think I met him briefly at one stage in the past. He was over doing My Boy Jack and I was doing The Tudors. We were both in Ardmore Studios, it was 2007 I think, we would have met briefly then. He is a fan of Ireland. I know that originally himself and Michael (Grandage, director) sat down when they were discussing what play they could together and they both simultaneously came upon this one and chose this one and I think Dan did that because he’s got a fondness for Irish theatre and is a fan of McDonagh as well.”
Radcliffe enjoyed his time in Ireland shooting the forthcoming film, The F Word, even helping Dublin’s minor hurlers celebrate an All-Ireland victory: “He’s been over (to Ireland) a few times, not just with filming. He was telling us he’s been over and back and I think his dad is from Belfast if I’m not mistaken. It’s somewhere in the North of Ireland but I think it’s Belfast.”
The cast also includes Pat Shortt who is often thought of as just a funny man but showed with his performance in Lenny Abrahamson’s Garage what a capable straight actor he is: “It’s true. He does really tap into his comic talents in this one. I’m actually finding it hard to keep a straight face in some of the scenes I have with him. I love that movie, Garage as well. I saw it some time ago and thought it was inspired casting. I think everyone expects Pat to turn up the comic dial but he’s got real acting chops and he’s always challenging himself to not just rely on the comedy. He’s a really talented actor and he brings a lot to the rehearsal process too, a lot of insight.”
Padraic acted in Lenny Abrahamson’s follow-up to Garage. Has he been taken aback by the film’s phenomenal success? “Yeah, absolutely. I know it did quite well at Sundance recently and it’s done a lot on the festival circuit. It’s a great story and there was a great cast put together and then Lenny is an amazing director, I think.
“The plot, I would have thought myself, it’s quite an Irish story but it seems to have that universal appeal and it’s travelled so well. I’m delighted to see it.”
Jack Reynor, star of What Richard Did, has gone on to great success being cast alongside Vince Vaughn in Delivery Man and as the lead in the forthcoming Transformers film. Was Padraic impressed when he saw the rising star at work? “Absolutely. You knew immediately: We’ve got a star in the making here. He’s off doing Transformers 4 at the moment, isn’t he? A lovely fella, incredibly down to earth as well. He’s a lovely guy, Jack. I could see when we were on set, there’s something about this kid and it’s proven, American audiences have picked up on it and Michael Bay has picked up on it so more power to him.”
These are exciting times for Irish cinema with What Richard Did leading a record number of Irish films at last year’s BFI London Film Festival: “There seems to be a new crop of writers and directors who are representing modern Ireland and it’s great to see that and it’s great to be part of that as well. I’ve been very lucky to recent years to work with these people.
“It’s an exciting time and it’s good to see as well because we’re in the middle of a worldwide recession, it’s hit Ireland particularly bad so it’s good to see that people are still investing in the arts and that they’re seeing it as something useful and something that can contribute to the country when we’re trying to make our way out of recession.”
The film that led to a rejuvenation of the Irish film industry was The Wind that Shakes the Barley as many productions then followed its lead opting to shoot in Ireland and particularly Cork and Kerry. It won the Palme d’Or at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival and now that its initial hype and excitement has died down, the Ken Loach film is considered one of the greatest films to have come out of Ireland: “I was very lucky to be part of it and lucky to work with somebody like Ken Loach and it’s great to see that seven or eight years later that it still has the same appeal and it still gets people talking in the same way it did back then.
“Again, it took us all by surprise winning out in Cannes but that’s Ken for you, he’s a master film maker. It’s a film that’s very close to my heart. I’m very proud of it. I think it’s a fantastic piece and I think it really encapsulates what it must have been like back then and the problems facing the people and how they dealt with it. It’s a very powerful movie.”
For the full interview, see the June 1 print edition of The Irish World.