Irish actor laid off from Scorsese's new film
Film director Martin Scorsese has laid off Irish actor Gerard McSorley from his new Irish-American gangster movie, The Departed.
McSorley, who has performed in major Irish movies including In The Name of the Father, Veronica Guerin, Bloody Sunday and Omagh, expressed surprise this week after he was told that he was no longer needed on the set.
He had already begun performing as a senior Boston police officer in the movie, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson.
McSorley, known for playing John Gilligan in the biopic, Veronica Guerin, said he had "very, very interesting, very creative" conversations with Scorsese. He had been filming in Brooklyn and had travelled to Boston to meet members of the Boston police department while researching the role.
"I just don't know and I don't even know what I'm going to do right now," McSorley said. He said that his own obsession with promoting a film about the Omagh bombing - in which he played the leader of the Omagh Victim Group, Michael Gallagher - may have cut into his preparation for the Scorsese movie.
While in Boston, McSorley taped and took photographs of senior police officers in preparation for his role. He also spoke with the film's script writer, Bill Monahan, about expanding the character's profile. McSorley believed that the character should be a Northern Ireland police officer who became disillusioned during the Troubles and left for the US in the mid-1970s. They had yet to decide whether his character should be captain or similar rank but he was to be a "good guy" who becomes a foil for gangsters, according to McSorley.
The film explores the lives of two police officers in south Boston. One, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, goes undercover in an Irish-American gang, while another, Matt Damon, is a highway officer who gets corrupted by the same gang.
McSorley said that he had been treated "spectacularly well" by Scorsese. "Scorsese is amazing. He lives for film, for art and he is so literate. He knows his Joyce and Irish literature and it was a joy to talk to him," he added.
The actor said he believed that Scorsese was familiar with his work, as the director spent so much time watching films and learning about technique.
McSorley, who is originally from Omagh, Co Tyrone, said that filming the Omagh movie was such an intense experience that it may have overshadowed projects that followed. He said that, before The Departed, he had taken a car to France to promote Omagh and had given "everything" to the movie because he felt an obligation to tell the story of the victims of the Real IRA bombing, which killed 29 people and injured over 200.
McSorley has a lot of experience playing crime and police roles in Irish movies. He is known to many for In The Name of the Father, in which he played a corrupt police officer who interrogated Daniel Day-Lewis's Gerry Conlon and threatened to kill his father.
He also played an RUC chief superintendent in Bloody Sunday and was highly praised for his role as crime boss John Gilligan in another biopic, Veronica Guerin.
Other performances included Angela's Ashes, The Butcher Boy, The Boxer and Braveheart.