11 July 2020 The Irish Film & Television Network

Irish Film and Television Network


Education / Training


Making the Cut

Making the Cut...Career Advice from Actor Barry Keoghan
04 Apr 2013 : Dylan Newe
Barry on the set of 'Wasted' with director Cathy Brady, Nora-Jane Noone and Andrew Simpson
The period from the initial rush of committing to acting into breaking through for auditions and vying for parts can be an eternal struggle for most and one that can put off even the most talented, battle-hardened youngsters. However, for one local boy who’s been on a sharp rise it took just responding to an ad by director Mark O’Connor in his local area to catch his break and he hasn’t looked back since.
Another tip for auditions I’ve found is just being yourself "

Dublin-born Barry Keoghan is poised to make his huge breakthrough this year with no less than four of his features and a short on release including O’Connor’s ‘King of the Travellers’, Rob and Ronan Burke’s ‘Standby’ and recent IFTA-winner Cathy Brady’s ‘Wasted’. There’s also the inevitable attention that will surround him as of one of the new additions to season four of Love/Hate. The young actor was sworn to secrecy on joining up with Nidge & co. except to comment on the crowds of fans swarming the set on location in Dublin as “the fun part of it” and “an experience”.

IFTN caught up with Barry as he preps to shoot the feature ‘71’ with BAFTA-nominated director Yann DeMange in England as he spoke to this week's 'Making the Cut' about staying unique in the casting room, fruit as his secret weapon on set and how he prepares for his roles.

Generally, working on set my day usually begins with...transport drivers picking you up, and they’re pretty interesting. Then I get onto set and get some breakfast. I like eating fruit on set, I always say I’m like Aladdin on set walking around with pockets full of fruit! Another thing I always do is bring a notebook to set with me for every character, and there’s a whole life in that notebook so I usually go over that. It’s like tuning in, like a guitar, just staying in character. The notebook is full of random questions, stuff about school years, questions about the scene, the whole lot. It’s like a little planet of this one character. Everything is in that notebook and it really helps! There’s so much that goes on behind the scenes on set that I think people don’t realise who aren’t in the industry. The last big feature that I worked on was Stay with Aidan Quinn, Taylor Schilling and Brian Gleeson, that was filmed down in Connemara which was deadly! To pass the time on set, I’m not the type that just goes into my trailer. I love talking to others, and learning from others. Sometimes I’ll even ask the crew if they need a hand! The best piece of advice I’ve received from both Wiebke (von Carolsfield, director of ‘Stay’) and Cathy Brady is just to ‘Listen’ from others and when on set.

The most common misconception people have about being an actor is...from people outside the industry who think we just show up and get on screen. There’s a lot more involved, from the homework that you have to do with your character, to the research and the script work. That’s my favourite part, is doing all the character work. Then you’ve to go through all the rehearsals, stunt training if there is any, costume fittings. So the acting is the last part at the end of all that! So I think people don’t realise that by filming everyone on set is mentally tired as well as physically too!

I got into acting on film first when...I saw a little ad in the window down where I live in the North Strand and it was Mark O’Connor putting up auditions for ‘Between the Canals’ so I rang the number and he cast me, and from there he’s had me in his three films. With that film I got introduced to Kirsten [Sheridan], Lance [Daly], Shimmy [Marcus] and all the gang at The Factory. I did the three-day workshop there in the Actors Studio and that developed my skills a lot. That’s where I met Maureen [Hughes] and it was she who introduced me to Derick [Mulvey, his agent of MacFarlane Chard], and he’s got me all my work and he’s been a good man. The D-Man I call him, but he’s been great!

A good tip for acting which I learnt which I always say is to tease the audience, they didn’t come to see a show-and-tell so let them chase what’s going on. Don’t give it away. Another tip for auditions I’ve found is just being yourself when you’re meeting all the casting people and directors, it makes you more unique and stands you apart from all the others walking through the room.

There have been a lot of people who have helped the most in my career for me to get where I am today…I came through as an actor with Mark [O'Connor] first and he’s kept me in his three films, but I’ve a lot of people to thank, everyone that I’ve mentioned like Kirsten, Cathy, Lance, Shimmy. They’ve been more like mentors than directors, they really help and they’re really nice. Louise Kiely [casting director] especially as well, for seeing me for ‘Stay’ and stuff like that. A lot of people!

The best thing about being an actor is...for me, is forgetting your own problems and getting in someone else’s shoes. For letting someone else who’s coming to see you in a film to forget their problems and enter another world, and letting them enjoy that for the ninety minutes or whatever. Travel is a big thing as well, I went to Sweden with Lance for ‘Life’s A Breeze’ and that was mad. You learn a lot from travelling and you get to see a lot of places that I didn’t think I’d get to see. All my roles for me as well have been a bit different, with every role you go through a little experience and there’s dark moments that you remember with that role but I think that’s good, means you’re getting deep into the character.

The actors I observe and look up to for inspiration would be....Leonardo Di Cpario and Paul Newman. They’re both class, ‘Basketball Diaries’ and ‘Cool Hand Luke’ are my two favourite films and both I really look upto. I love watching Irish actors, and I’ve worked with Peter Coonan and Brian Gleeson a bit now as well. But I’d love to work with Cillian Murphy or Aidan Gillen too.

Acting tools you should look up for inspiration are...I like to watch a lot of documentaries because I think that’s the kind of realism you want to portray. I watched one, ‘Inside Game’, just yesterday and that’s about game designers and the stress they’re under up until the day the games are released. That stuff is really interesting, and I like studying human behaviour, real people and how they react to situations. Any ‘Behind the Scenes’ features as well, you get to see what happens after they say ‘Cut’. ‘Inside The Actors Studio’ as well, I love that.

Alan Maher on Producing
Fiona Graham on Cinematography
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