Yes, it’s a funny thing. A psychopath can rape and murder his way through a play without triggering too much critical opprobrium, but if a racist character says the “n-word” then the author is often unfairly implicated.
“Yes, yes. That’s it.”
He said earlier that he doesn’t really believe in writer’s block. Even the most confident of writers can, however, find themselves paralysed by a bad review.
“No. Since then I have written a film script and I am very happy with it. It’s called Three Billboards outside of Ebbing, Missouri and it has a strong female lead. It’s a bit sad, like Bruges without quite so many laughs. But, yeah, I did wonder about what would happen when I got dumped on. I have had a pretty good run of critical responses. That was the first one that was not universally liked. So, it was, well, interesting to say the least. But it does make you think – in a good way.”
One cannot, I suppose, live life as Martin McDonagh without triggering the odd extreme reaction. From the start, his writing has wallowed in waters murky with blood and pestilence. A kind of pathological morbidity stalks the plays and the films. One assumes that prim audience members will, from time to time, make disparaging noises. His plays look like the sort of beasts that could trigger walkouts.
“Yes, but it’s usually just a vocal section of about three per cent,” he says. “The vocal walkouts are amusing and interesting. They stomp their way across the front of the stage. If I didn’t like something, I would leave quietly. They come there just to walk out.”
Over the past year, McDonagh has had to deal – if “deal” is the word – with a heightened degree of sibling rivalry. His brother, John Michael McDonagh, has been in the film business for more than a decade, but it took The Guard, the raucous buddy-buddy comedy starring Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle, to raise his head above the parapet. Let’s talk about his older sibling’s success.
“No fucking way!” he says with a hearty laugh. “No, no. I was proud and glad. It must have been hard for him when I moved from plays into films. He started writing before I did and I probably stared writing because he did. He phoned me up on the day that The Guard passed In Bruges in Ireland and then it became the biggest Irish-set independent film ever. Honestly, I was thrilled.”
If he’s pretending, he’s doing a very good job of it. A creative dynasty is forming before our eyes.
Seven Psychopaths opens on Friday
FIVE GREAT LONDON-IRISH
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