Black looks: Dylan Moran ’s bleakly comic worldview

For his role in ‘Calvary’, Dylan Moran, best known as a brilliantly grumpy stand-up, gets into the mind – and suit – of a dodgy property developer

Fri, Apr 4, 2014, 00:00

“Irish current affairs is really dominated by only one question: ‘Is this the bottom?’” he says. “And all sorts of people claim to have the authority to say, ‘Yes. This is the bottom. Things can’t get any worse.’ Ah, but . . .”

Irish current affairs form the spine of Calvary , McDonagh’s mournful state-of-the-nation address. An unlikely sophomore companion for the livelier hit comedy, The Guard , Calvary is mostly forged from a series of monologues and dialogues between a righteous priest (Brendan Gleeson), his suicidal daughter (Kelly Reilly), a local butcher (Chris O’Dowd) and various unhappy locals, including Dylan Moran’s disgraced property developer.

“It was my first time seeing it last night,” says Moran. “It’s a very unusual film. It feels really vast. Sligo looks amazing. Not in an obvious creamy American way where everything looks like an album cover. The landscape is a character. It’s messy, but it knows exactly what’s it’s doing. It’s dynamic. It’s not just hitting all the beats. Structure is so fucking boring.”

You can see why Moran is perfect casting for writer-director John Michael McDonagh, who together with his playwright brother Martin, has done much to rhapsodise the Irish idiom.

“That’s right,” says Moran. “The McDonaghs have a fantastic use of idioms. Because they’re outsiders. People don’t really hear themselves. We can’t hear what arrests everybody else about our language, why other people respond to how we sound.”

In other ways the fit is not immediately obvious for an actor accustomed to playing boozy, disgruntled losers. He’s playing a posh property developer who enjoys riding to hounds. Huh?

“Oh I’m still a loser. I just happen to be in a pressed suit. Spiritually I’m very hard up. In some ways it was a departure. But really, it’s like playing a fireman without a fireman’s hat.”


Calvary opens on April 11th

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