The Banshees of Inisherin, writer-director Martin McDonagh’s latest film, marks a reunion for him and lead actors Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson: Fifteen years ago, they teamed up for In Bruges. In that film, Farrell and Gleeson played London-based Irish hitmen on the run in Belgium, with opposing outlooks on their circumstances — not dissimilar to Banshees, which sees the pair playing best friends in 1920s Ireland who’ve grown estranged.
For Bruges, the British-Irish McDonagh, who got his start in theater and won an Oscar in 2006 for his short film Six Shooter, cast the two Irishmen alongside Ralph Fiennes as a rival hitman. After the film’s Sundance premiere in 2008, THR‘s review raved: “Martin McDonagh in his feature debut has fashioned an audacious combination of Old World grace and modern ultraviolence. Chock full of wonderful lines delivered by a splendid cast, In Bruges … toys with the conventions and mostly transcends the limitations. … Playing against type, Gleeson brings a sweetness to the role, while Farrell manages to be ghastly and sympathetic at the same time.”
Come awards season, In Bruges earned Golden Globe nominations for best comedy or musical, best supporting actor for Gleeson and best lead actor for Farrell, who won the award. McDonagh also received an original screenplay Oscar nomination (he would earn a screenplay nom again for 2017’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, as well as a best picture nom). The trio’s second collaboration might fare just as well or even better — Banshees is nominated in the same Globe categories, with additional recognition for McDonagh in directing and writing.
Of writing plays versus screenplays, McDonagh recently shared at THR‘s Writer Roundtable: “With screenplay writing, you can jump around in time and space, and scenes can be two lines long and then three pages? We don’t really do that in plays. A scene is seven pages long or it’s an act long. Now I find it harder to go back and write plays because I love being able to jump around.”
This story first appeared in a Jan. stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.