22 July 2024 The Irish Film & Television Network

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Production News

Siobhan Cullen, Chris Walley, Paddy Breathnach and more discuss Bodkin
09 May 2024 : Luke Shanahan
Siobhan Cullen
We spoke with the cast, crew, and showrunners of Bodkin at the Netflix series’ Irish premiere at the Light House Cinema, Dublin. Bodkin is available to stream on Netflix from today, May 9th.

Bodkin is a dark comedic thriller led by Siobhan Cullen (Obituary, The Dry), Will Forte (Extra Ordinary), and Robyn Cara (Trying). The series features a large ensemble of Irish actors including Chris Walley (The Young Offenders) and David Wilmot (Lies We Tell), many of whom walked the red carpet last night, along with showrunners Alex Metcalf and Jez Scharf, and director Paddy Breathnach.

The new series follows a motley crew of podcasters (Forte, Cullen, Cara) who set out to investigate the mysterious disappearance of three strangers in a quaint, coastal Irish town. But once they start pulling at threads, they discover a story much bigger and weirder than they could have ever imagined.

IFTA Rising Star Siobhan Cullen introduces us to her character, Dove:

“Dove is a very complex, damaged character when we meet her. She's had a troubled past. She's in the midst of a kind of career and personal crisis, and trying to lay low. By returning to Ireland and having to work with these people, she's forced to face her demons in a way.”

Standing in contrast to her character Elvira on Obituary, who causes murders in a small Irish town, Cullen’s character Dove is solving murders in a small Irish town. When asked if there’s something about the crime genre that she's drawn to, Cullen highlights the importance of writing and creative collaborators over any concerns with genre:

“I think it's a combination of things. I wouldn't say I'm necessarily led by genre, but I'm led by good writing for sure.”

“Those two scripts, in particular, were both so unique even though they might exist in a similar genre. I couldn't compare them to any other show that I had seen, or any other scripts that I'd read, so that's what drew me to them. Also, the people that were involved in both projects were people that I really wanted to work with.”

Joining Cullen in the series’ leading trio are American actor and comedian Will Forte and British actor Robyn Cara. While Bodkin marks Cara’s first venture into an Irish production, this is Forte’s third time filming in Ireland, following Run and Jump and Extra Ordinary.

“After coming for the first time for Run and Jump, I just started coming to visit for little vacations,” said Forte. “It's beautiful out here. The people are so nice. The crews are fantastic. It's just a fun adventure to get to go work somewhere and have an experience away from home. I don't know how to describe it, I just felt a real connection to this country.”

“I’d been to Limerick for about five days, but yeah, this was my first big stint in Ireland,” added Cara. “It was so great. We were here for about five, nearly six months. Everyone made me feel really welcome. The cast and crew were so great. We'd get invited to lunches at the weekends. Go on road trips. It was really fun.”

Bodkin was filmed in various locations across the country including Union Hall Village, Drumadoon Pier, Poulgorm Bridge and Glandore in West Cork, Ardmore Studios, Belmont Demesne, Carnegie Library - Enniskerry, Sallygap and Travelahawk Beach in Wicklow, Fenian Street, Howth Village, Howth Castle and Leopardstown Racecourse in Dublin, and Dave’s Diner in Julianstown, County Meath.

For Cork Native Chris Walley, the shoot was something of a homecoming for the actor: “It was great to come back and shoot. My dad's from Skibbereen, so all his family is from West Cork. We were shooting in Union hall, so it was lovely to be filming around those parts. I just love being back in Cork, so any excuse to shoot up there is great.”

The ensemble features a wide variety of Irish actors, some new to the industry, such as Mae Higgins in a breakout role that got her signed to The Lisa Richards Agency, and some who’ve seen the industry undergo significant change over the course of their careers, such as Fionnula Flanagan and Pat Shortt.

When asked about what it’s like to see the Irish film industry get to a point where a major Netflix production not only shoots a series in Ireland, but also bases the story here, Shortt cites President Michael D Higgins reinstating of the film board as an important turning point in the industry: “It's a real testament to Michael D. Higgins and the work that he did years ago. It’s really paying off now. It's easy to forget that, but I think a lot comes down to that man. He's done amazing work for the film industry in Ireland.”

“It’s great, it means work for so many people, and it's a huge cast,” said Flanagan in regards to Bodkin shooting in Ireland, and the growth she’s seen in the Irish film industry. “So it means work for all those actors and work for all those crews too. In order for us to have a legitimate industry here, we have to provide work for people.”

Paddy Breathnach, who directed the final episode of the season, also spoke to the growth of the industry and how this has facilitated Irish crews becoming more experienced and operating at a high level of quality:

“I did the last episode. There’s a festival, it’s nighttime, there’s pyrotechnics, all of that sort of stuff going on. So that was wonderful. It's wonderful as well, because I’m seeing two old friends, Paki Smith, the production designer, and Cathal Watters, the DOP, working at a certain level and playing with the toys there. You see all that quality coming out.”

Finally, we spoke with showrunners Jez Scharf and Alex Metcalf, who spoke about the origins of the series, and making the most of Ireland’s talent.

“Well, the genesis of it was that I got a job working for an Irish film producer about 10 years ago,” explains Scharf. “And I think like a lot of British people when they first come to Ireland, I suddenly had this very humbling realization of how little I knew about Ireland, Irish culture, and Irish history. As I was dipping back and forth, I was listening to a lot of true crime. This is about six years ago that I wrote it, and I thought that an absurd murder-mystery centered around a group of people that arrive in Ireland and are humbled, but made better for the experience, made sense.”

“Also, Jez, when he came here, was very much an outsider,” adds Metcalf. “So there’s that sensibility as well as somebody coming from outside a culture and thinking like Gilbert (Will Forte) that they understand it, only to realize they don't at all.”

Scharf continues: “And because I was an outsider, when we got the show set up, we both knew our responsibility to Ireland and the incredible amount of talent here. So we were able to set up a writers’ room, which was 50% Irish writers, 50% American writers, just zooming with each other across the world and trying to find this story together. It was a really beautiful experience.”

Bodkin is now available to stream on Netflix.

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