CinÉireann Issue 9 - Page 25

CinÉireann / Issue 9 25

Connaught. There was a whole lot to work with and it was a really rewarding process. Especially getting to grow that beard, because it's not common to be able to grow something like that. Or at least to get away with one that is not manscaped, for lack of a better word.

Feeney's beard is a particularly impressive big fiery red beard. Were you aware that it would come out like that?

Oh yeah. It was nothing that I was ever too insecure about growing up as a kid. Because this is my hair colour. I am dark on top and red down here. I remember in high school a friend that I'd known since I was five asking me "oh is your beard red?" and I was like "yeah it is". I've got freckles as well. And she was like "but your hair is not red. How long have you been dying your hair for?". I mean she'd known me for 15 years.

How did you prepare physically for the role?

I didn't know how to ride horses before the film, so a lot of the character I found while I was learning how to ride and the physicality of that. Looking like you know how to murder people efficiently, without mercy and without any sort of emotional connection.

And you had some arms training as well...

While I was learning to ride horses, I was also training with a Jeet Kune Do master in Los Angeles where I based at the time. I would do horse riding and then I would go and do knife training, learning how to cut people up. So by the time I got to set Lance is telling me how I should stab or do this, and "I'm like no you should do this" and cutting and carving. One of the big responsibilities to the character was to look like I had been doing this for 13 years and not just 6 weeks or whatever it was.

Feeney is described by Hugo Weaving's character, Hannah, as one of the very best.

Yeah, and when you say that then you've got to deliver on that. You can't be limp doing a role like this. I had to, physically, get everything to a point where it was just looking really good. I was thinking and working a lot on ambidexterity at the time. I have a compromised pinky from an accident where I smashed my finger in between two half kilogram/one kilogram dumbbells when I was 10. From doing that my grip is compromised a little bit and I'm not thinking that it's going to be compromised forever. You just have to drill stuff and overcome it up here [points to head] and get it out. So much of the character was found in doing the arms training and in learning how to reload a gun fluidly so that it looks like you've been doing it forever.

And that particular type of gun to...

Yeah we had some amazing weapons. The armourer Boyd Rankin...if the apocalypse comes I know where I'm going! He was a hobbyist and then became the qualified guy for it. He made all of his own gunpowder. I learned all of the ins-and-outs about the kind of kit that Feeney would have had as a soldier, and how he would survive with flip-knives and rations and everything like that. I wasn't camping out by a mountainside but I was certainly inhabiting that headspace. Because that's what you need to do to make it authentic. It was a big responsibility , because I'm not Irish.

How does a guy from Melbourne find the west of Ireland and the weather?

I loved it. I absolutely loved it. There was this one day that was a reshoot. We had finished the film in February and then I went on to another job and had shaved off the beard. I'd kept the beard for about a month. I'd spent a lot of time down in west Cork waiting to hear about these possible pickups. They didn't happen so I shaved it off and started working on something else. Then an opportunity arose where we had to do some reshoots, and that's a pretty natural thing to happen with films. So I went to a place where they did all of the facial hair for the Harry Potter films and I had this beard made that was quite miraculous as far as the colouring and the shape of it and a slight patch where the hair wasn't growing in. Maybe only because I was stressing it and picking at it. And then this day that we had in Connemara was maybe the wettest day that they had had there for 20 years.

Director Lance Daly and actor James Frenchville