10 December 2023 The Irish Film & Television Network
Float Like A Butterfly Star Dara Devaney Talks with IFTN
14 May 2019 : Nathan Griffin
Dara Devaney in 'Float Like A Butterfly'.
IFTN caught up with Irish actor Dara Devaney to find out more about how he got involved in boxing drama ‘Float Like A Butterfly’, working with rising star Hazel Doupe and what to expect from Cine4-funded feature films ‘Finky’ and ‘Arracht’.

Filmed on location in West Cork, ‘Float Like a Butterfly’ is an inspirational coming-of-age story of an Irish girl from the Travelling community and the pursuit of her dream to be a boxer and is currently on release in Irish cinemas since Friday, May 10th.

15-year-old Frances has been raised in roadside camps in rural Ireland and wants to become a boxing champion like her idol Muhammad Ali. However, she must overcome cultural and familial hurdles to achieve her dreams.

Written and directed by Carmel Winters (‘Snap’), the feature film picked up the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) prize for the Discovery programme at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) last year. The film also won the Audience Award in Cork where it had its Irish premiere in November. ‘Float Like A Butterfly’ stars Hazel Doupe (‘Ripper Street’), Dara Devaney (‘Camelot’), Aidan O’Hare (‘The Wind That Shakes The Barley’), Lalor Roddy (‘Hunger’), Hilda Fay (‘The Cured’), Packy Lee (‘Peaky Blinders’) and newcomer Johnny Collins.

Devaney is most well-known for his role in TG4’s Irish language western ‘An Klondike’ (Dominion Creek) for which he received an IFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role-Drama’ in 2016. He has also featured in Tom Collins’ acclaimed mini-series ‘An Brontannas’ (2014) and bilingual action-drama ‘Penance’ (2018). Dara will next be seen in both of Screen Ireland’s new Cine4-funded Irish language feature films ‘Finky’ and ‘Arracht’. The primary focus of the new Cine4 joint-funding initiative, in conjunction with TG4, is to support the development and production of feature films in the Irish language.

IFTN journalist Nathan Griffin caught up with Dara to find out more about the film, which is currently on release in Irish cinemas.

IFTN: How and when did you first get involved in the project?

Dara: “About a year before shooting, Carmel came to meet me on the set of the Tg4 series 'An Klondike'. We seemed to get on well, and I sent her some videos of me playing the banjo, etc.   A few months later I got the call to do a workshop with the lead Hazel.  There was some improvisation and singing, which I loved.  I really got my hopes up about it, but thankfully got the gig!”

IFTN: What was it about the script that attracted you to the project when you first read it?

Dara: “Like Carmel, the script is bursting with heart and soul. I loved that the lead role was a teenage girl, someone my nieces could see and be inspired by. The music, the rich traveller culture which always fascinated me, the love of family… It read like a fairytale, but still firmly grounded and didn't whitewash the darker elements of life.”

IFTN: The film is centred on the life and struggles of the traveller community in 1960/70s Ireland and sees you play the role of Michael Joyce. How did you prepare for the role?

Dara: “Initially I suppose I had to shake off the notion that I was representing an entire culture or gender in my performance. With Carmel, we kept bringing the focus back to my character Micheal and his own unique story while still trying to ensure that it was true to the culture and the times. I read what I could find and actor John Connors very kindly gave me leads for resources for research.  The Collins family (Micheal and Johnny are both in the film) were very helpful.”

IFTN: Your character shares a turbulent relationship with his daughter, who is played by Hazel Doupe. Can you tell me a little bit about the shorthand you developed over the course of pre-production and filming?

Dara: “I think I got the part as a result of how well we got on and worked together in the workshop, months before filming. Sometimes, one has to make allowances when working with younger actors, but not in this case. I really felt like I was working with a seasoned pro, which she is in a way, she's done quite a bit of work for someone her age. But it still struck me how focused and composed she was on set in all kinds of circumstances... while still being a lovely goofball. She's great craic and brilliant.”

IFTN: The film boasts a fantastic Irish cast and crew. Can you give us some insight into the dynamic experienced on set?

Dara: “Yes, fantastic cast and crew! Carmel surrounded herself with and entrusted a hardworking and talented bunch that cared about the film. Being out on the beautiful Mizen Penninsula together for weeks was conducive to 'bonding'. Schull was a hive of activity during the shoot. It was great to see local people getting involved and a lot of friendships were forged.”

IFTN: What one piece of advice would you give to an aspiring actor starting out?

Dara: “Don't let your happiness be determined by other people's opinion of you. Just do your best and enjoy it!”

IFTN: You next appear in both of the Cine4 funded feature films – ‘Finky’ and ‘Arracht’. Can you tell me a little bit about your role in both of them?

Dara: “Very much looking forward to seeing these; In 'Arracht', which is set during the Famine, I play an ex British soldier from Connemara who initially manages to hide his dark side. The desperation of the situation exposes his corrupted soul and violent sadistic tendencies.”

“'Finky' is the surreal journey of a struggling artist whose situation goes from bad to worse. This was a part that Director /writer Daithí Keane ('An Klondike') had intended for me from the beginning, which was a massive compliment. It's hard to talk about the character without giving the plot away but there is a physical and psychological metamorphosis which was daunting and a privilege to play.”

Eclipse Pictures is handling the Irish cinema release of Carmel Winters’ ‘Float Like A Butterfly’.

IFTN Festive Q&A with actor Albrecht Schuch
IFTN Festive Q&A with director Luke McManus
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