What links Colin Farrell to Sex and the City and a pint of plain?

Brendan Gleeson, Swedish drama and a plate of potted crab bring us all the way back to the rugged west of Ireland

Troubled men

Kerry Condon in The Banshees of Inisherin
Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson star with Kerry Condon in The Banshees of Inisherin … Photograph: Alamy

Difficult Irishmen, reassemble: 14 years after Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson bickered In Bruges, they have reunited with director Martin McDonagh for The Banshees of Inisherin, a “macabre black comedy of toxic male pride”. No change there, then. After American sojourns, McDonagh revisits a 1920s west of Ireland locale more akin to the early plays that made his name.

House rules

Brendan Gleeson
… Gleeson played Donald Trump in The Comey Rule … Photograph: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

There are many directions to go from here: Gleeson’s acting sons Domhnall and Brian; McDonagh’s partner Phoebe Waller-Bridge – but let’s stick with Brendan himself. Before turning pro, he was a teacher at Belcamp College in Dublin: the school was housed in a Georgian mansion by Irish architect James Hoban, famed for designing the White House, where Gleeson was ensconced as Donald Trump in Showtime mini-series The Comey Rule.

Tall tales

Mariel Hemingway
… due next year is Comey’s Central Park West, sadly no relation to Darren Star’s soap, whose cast included Mariel Hemingway … Photograph: Noam Galai/Getty Images

We’d rather forget tall agent James Comey, but he won’t go away. His pivot to fiction with crime debut Central Park West is due next year. This, alas, bears no connection to Central Park West, Darren Star’s flop soap that preceded Sex and the City, and is best remembered for a cast including John Barrowman, Lauren Hutton, Raquel Welch and Mariel Hemingway.


Liv Ullmann
… Mariel’s grandfather was Ernest, whose For Whom the Bell Tolls stars Ingrid Bergman, who appeared in Autumn Sonata with Liv Ullmann … Photograph: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Mariel’s grandpa was Ernest: among the films of the big man’s work is the 1943 version of For Whom the Bell Tolls, starring Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman. It is, of course, pure coincidence that the two major Swedish figures of 20th-century film were called Bergman (the “no relation” parenthesis is rarely more deployed) but they did work together: 1978’s Autumn Sonata was Ingrid’s penultimate role – directed by Ingmar – in which she appeared alongside Liv Ullmann.

After Miss Julie

Colin Farrell
… who directed Miss Julie starring Colin Farrell … Photograph: Kate Green/Getty Images

Though best known for Bergman (Ingmar) films, Ullmann also directed, including taking on another Swedish giant in Strindberg’s Miss Julie; Jessica Chastain and Colin Farrell starred. This came in 2014, a point that seems to have kicked off the current Farrell iteration of a handsome leading man ageing into more interesting character roles (The Lobster, The Beguiled, Widows, After Yang), with the occasional blockbuster thrown in (The Batman). Which brings us up to date, with Farrell and Gleeson bickering darkly on a remote island, over a pint of plain.

Pairing notes

A whole cooked crab

Eat Before sailing to the Aran Islands, where much of the film was shot, why not stop at the bilingual Pota cafe, where everything from “grá-nola” to potted crab is on offer.

Read Not on the islands, but still largely set in the west of Ireland, Colin Barrett’s recent Homesickness is a brilliant collection of darkly comic and profound short stories.


Larry Ryan

The GuardianTramp

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