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The glass may be half empty but it will contain good whiskey. I write film reviews for http://www.scannain.com/ , say hi and we can debate films forever and ever and ever...... Warning this blog may contain more than just film talk.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

The 5 best roles for Irish actors you have never seen

We all know the parts Irish actors are famous for. Most have been in some great Irish films and gone on to star in Hollywood blockbusters. We have Liam Neeson in Michael Collins and now starring in Hollywood films such as Taken and The A Team. Brendan Gleeson has been in a lot of Irish films including In Bruges and is a major actor in Hollywood. But many Irish actors best performances have been in films and TV shows that not many people have seen. Here is a selection of great performances both at home and abroad that are worth seeking out if you have an interest in Irish actors.

1. Brendan Gleeson in The Treaty (1991)

Five years before Michael Collins was made, RTE made The Treaty: a large scale production of the the treaty negotiations with the British Government after the War of Independence. This brilliant production starred a huge amount of Irish acting talent from stage and screen but it was the then unknown Gleeson who played Michael Collins. He was superb and still eclipses the Liam Neeson portrayal from the Neil Jordan production. It would be well worth seeking out on dvd if in fact it was available on dvd - it's not. Meanwhile it is available to watch on Youtube.

2. Ray Mc Anally in A Very British Coup (1988)

Quite simply one of the best conspiracy TV shows ever made. It is the story of a working class man, Harry Perkins (Mc Anally), who becomes Prime Minister in the UK in the 1980s. This shows a different world than today (a left wing Labour party?) but the political intrigue and shadowy background forces operating behind the scenes is as relevant as ever. This is Mc Anally's finest performance: he is an immense presence and totally convincing. Available to buy on dvd from the 19th September (RTE take note).

3. Gabriel Byrne in Defence of the Realm (1985)

There was a temptation to put the Byrne's performance in the Coen Brothers film Millers Crossing in here. It is rightly famous for being one of their best films but there is a surprising number of people who have yet to see it. But in the end this had to be the selection. Alongside A Very British Coup this is another 1980s reaction to the Thatcher led British Government and an enjoyable political thriller in its own right. Byrne is a treat in this and it is nice to see him in a lead role so early in his career. There is also another Coen Brothers connection with regular cinematographer Roger Deakins working on this film. Available on dvd.

4. Stephen Rea in Citizen X (1995)

This little seen and underrated film stars Stephen Rea as a policeman in charge of the investigation to find the serial killer Andrej Chikatilo in Soviet Russia from 1978 to 1990. This film is in some ways a typical police procedural but it is given extra weight by the amount of political red tape and interference by the Soviet government. It also boasts a superb, restrained turn by Rea in a rare leading role. Available on dvd. Apologies for the poor quality trailer.

5. Pierce Brosnan in Taffin (1988)

OK, so maybe not the greatest choice of film but it is included here to illustrate the standard of film made in Ireland before Jim Sheridan and Neil Jordan made their mark. Brosnan looks good in this, and you can see why Bond producers wanted him star in that franchise long before he actually did. The trailer is hilarious and just about awful enough to see if the film is available to buy on dvd. Rather shockingly it is, yet I Went Down is unavailable, what a strange world this is.

Have you got any that I haven't included? Let me know below.


  1. Hello Jason,
    Wonderful blog! I love Ireland and I love cinema...so I find it great..I also studied cinema years ago at the university in France...Will come often to visit your blog...Danielle

  2. Danielle, thank you for the follow and the kind words, I look forward to checking out your blog also.


  3. Ah Taffin......"what goes on in this house is none of your busine....." ".....as long as I'm living here then it is." "THEN MAYBE YOU SHOULDN'T BE LIVING HEEEERRRRRRRRRREEEEE"

    How in god's name does anyone sleep easy after delivering a line so strikingly bad as that.