Brendan Gleeson Comes to the Calvary


A relatively new filmmaker who has already been getting a lot of attention this year is John Michael McDonagh (brother of In Bruges director Martin McDonagh), whose Ireland-based dark comedy The Guard opened this year’s Sundance Film Festival; it’s having its New York premiere tonight at the Tribeca Film Festival.

The movie’s still a few months away from release, but the Irish filmmaker already has some ideas what he wants to do down the road and one of them is a project which will star The Guard‘s Brendan Gleeson as a priest in a small Irish town. The project is called Calvary, and knowing McDonagh’s affinity for John Ford, whose parents came from Galway just like his parents, we have to assume it’s an homage to the legendary director of many great Westerns

“During the course of editing I wrote another script with Brendan,” the director told earlier today. “There’s been loads of stuff about pedophile priests, both in America and Ireland, so going back to writing the opposite, is what would be the right time to write about a priest who’s a good man. It’s dramatic, but it’s got a lot of comedy, and it will be about a priest who is tormented by his community. Everyone in the village is sort of against him, so he’s a good man but the characters around him will be darker so instead of him propelling the narrative, it will be him responding to other people.”

“I’ve written it for a county called Sligo, and the reason it’s there is there’s a town called Easky where my mother is from, and it’s one of the Top 10 surfing scenes in the world because of the rips they get,” he continued. “I wanted again a widescreen backdrop, surfers, there’s sort of a meditative quality about the sea rushing in. Hopefully it will have more of those comedy elements, but I want a bit more of a philosophical element to it, as well.”

But that’s not all McDonagh has up his sleeve and he’s not planning on sticking around Ireland for his entire career. He already has another script in the can with the great title of “War on Everyone.” “There’s this other one I’ve been trying to make for a while, it’s about two corrupt cops in the Deep South–I put it in Alabama–and it’s basically the two of them screwing over people, ripping them off, blackmailing criminals, and then they eventually come across a villain who is more dangerous than they are… or is he? That will be a real hardcore black comedy.”

Neither of those movies might not be McDonagh’s next films to direct though. “Those scripts are on the backburner for a third and fourth film, and those two to me are achievable for where I’m at now to get them made for about $10 to 15 million.”

Look for our full interview with McDonagh before The Guard opens in select cities on July 29. If you’re in New York, you can catch the movie earlier during the last weekend of the Tribeca Film Festival.