Irish Eye on Hollywood

Liam Neeson's latest action turn, as an air marshal in Non-Stop.
Liam Neeson's latest action turn, as an air marshal in Non-Stop.

By Tom Deignan, Contributor
April / May 2013

1. The Irish Goodfellas are getting back together!

Back in 1990, Robert DeNiro wowed audiences playing Irish-American hood Jimmy Conway in the electric Martin Scorsese gangster flick Goodfellas. Ray Liotta co-starred as half-Irish Henry Hill, as did Joe Pesci playing the psychotic Tommy Carbone.

Well, Scorsese, DeNiro and Pesci – as well as Al Pacino  – are teaming up again to make a movie simply entitled The Irishman.

A script for the film has already been completed, and earlier this year Scorsese held a reading at the Tribeca Film Center. The film is based on a book by Charles Brandt called I Heard You Paint Houses, about notorious Irish American hit man Frank Sheeran. Mob lore has it that Sheeran was likely the trigger man behind the infamous disappearance of labor leader Jimmy Hoffa as well as the murder of “Crazy” Joe Gallo at Umberto’s Clam House in Little Italy in 1972. (The title of the Brandt book refers to a common euphemism among gangsters for people willing to kill for hire.)

DeNiro, who is slated to play Sheeran in the film, recently said: “It’s about a guy [named Frank Sheeran] who is – and I believe the book says he’s now passed away – but he confessed that he killed Hoffa and also Joe Gallo over here on Hester Street. And so I’m going to play that character, Joe Pesci’s gonna be in it and Al Pacino is going to be in it and Marty’s going to direct it. . . . I’d never say it if I didn’t really fully have us all, you know, committed.”

Then DeNiro’s description of the project becomes a little, um, interesting.

“We have a more ambitious idea, hopefully, to make it a two-part type of film or two films.  It’s an idea that came about from [screenwriter] Eric Roth to combine these movies using the footage from Paint Houses to do another kind of a [film that is] reminiscent of 8 1/2, La Dolce Vita, [a] certain kind of biographical, semi-biographical type of Hollywood movie — a director and the actor — based on things Marty and I have experienced and kind of overlapping them.”

Sounds like there might be a really good movie in there somewhere.

2. Wicklow native Jack Reynor will star alongside Irish American Mark Wahlberg in the next installment of the behemoth Transformers film franchise. Transformers 4 is being envisioned by director Michael Bay as the first film in a new trilogy about the good and evil robots who do battle on planet Earth. Reynor, just 21, was born in America and moved back to Ireland with his mother, human rights activist Tara O’Grady, when he was two years old. His grand-uncle is the actor Paul Raynor. Bay is said to have spotted Reynor in the small Irish film What Richard Did. Next thing you know he’s the lead actor in a multi-million dollar film. No word yet on the release date for Transformers 4.

3. Another young Irish actor, Sarah Bolger (best known for her role in Jim Sheridan’s 2004 New York Irish immigrant saga In America) has been popping up in the ABC fairy tale series Once Upon a Time, playing Sleeping Beauty. Bolger also had a role on The Tudors mini-series and on March 29, the Dublin native will be partaking in a decidedly international film. Or her voice will anyway. Bolger is set to be one of the voices in From Up on Poppy Hill, a Japanese drama based on the comic book series of the same name. Ron Howard, Christina Hendricks, Jeff Dunham, Jamie Lee Curtis and Irish American Ronan Farrow (Mia Farrow’s son with Woody Allen) will also be heard in the flick.

4. In TV news, Irish American film and TV veteran Donal Logue has signed on to the second season of BBC America’s drama Copper. Set in 1860s New York, during the Civil War, at a time of heavy Irish immigration to the U.S., Logue will play Civil War General Brendan Donovan, who has returned from the front to reestablish himself as local political powerbroker. Production for season two of Copper is already underway.

Copper is a gritty look at the notorious downtown Irish enclave The Five Points.

Also joining the cast of Copper as Executive Producer is Thomas Kelly, one of the driving forces behind the CBS Irish American cop hit Blue Bloods. Kelly, a New York-born novelist as well as TV writer, joins Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson behind the scenes.

Tom Weston-Jones will be back to play scarred cop and Civil War veteran Kevin Corcoran. Dublin native Kevin Ryan will also be back for season two, playing Corcoran’s fellow police officer Francis McGuire.

“Season two is driven by flawed and haunted characters living in explosive times,” says Tom Fontana. “Each of them is looking for renewal in the wake of last season’s revelations and violent upheaval. The on-going storylines follow Detective Corcoran and company on their paths to redemption or ruin.”

5. Also on the television front, vampires remain all the rage as County Wicklow native Katie McGrath has signed on to appear alongside fellow Irish-born thespian Jonathan Rhys Meyers in the upcoming drama series Dracula. (Dublin author Bran Stoker penned the novel Dracula, published in 1897). Rhys Meyers and McGrath have previously worked together on the aforementioned The Tudors. The 10-episode Dracula series, to be shown on NBC later this year, will feature McGrath as Lucy Wetenra, and will focus on an American businessman who arrives in 1890s London hoping to create a number of scientific breakthroughs.

6. Speaking of Jonathan Rhys Meyers, it’s been a long, arduous journey to the big screen for his upcoming thriller 6 Souls. The thriller (also starring Julianne Moore) was shot way back in 2008. It has been released briefly in various countries since and will finally be available in the U.S. in April. Moore plays a widowed psychiatrist who attempts to care for a patient (Rhys Meyers) who cannot walk. 6 Souls also stars Jeffrey DeMunn and Frances Conroy.

Rhys Meyers should have a lot more luck with the summer big-budget extravaganza The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. Based on the 2007 book of the same title (the first in a series), the film stars Rhys Meyers as well as Jared Harris (Richard Harris’s son, of Mad Men fame), Lily Collins, Lena Headey and Aidan Turner.

7. As for Julianne Moore, if one Irish star (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) doesn’t bring her box office gold, she can always count on Liam Neeson. Moore and Neeson are slated to star in the upcoming thriller Non-Stop. The film, which began shooting in New York this past December, is about an air marshal (Neeson) who begins receiving frightening text messages while flying from New York to London. The texts state that a passenger aboard the flight will be killed every 20 minutes unless $150 million in ransom money is paid into a secret bank account. Yes, it seems clear that Liam Neeson will indeed be riding out this action hero thing as long as it proves lucrative.

8. Finally, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick is all of 14 years old but he already has quite an impressive movie career going. The young Irish-American (whose father, James Hugh Fitzpatrick, is also an actor) has appeared in films such as The Omen and the Academy Award nominated Moonrise Kingdom. Look for Seamus in the upcoming Before Midnight, starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. The film, already out in limited release, should be seen more widely soon. This is the third time around for Hawke and Delpy, whose earlier films Before Sunrise and Before Sunset explored the same star-crossed lovers who meet up while traveling around the world.

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