Producer Says Martin McDonagh Was in His Best Place – The Hollywood Reporter

searchlight The Banshees by Inisherin was a remarkable reunion between writer-director Martin McDonagh and stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, who first teamed up on McDonagh’s 2008 feature film debut In Bruges. But McDonagh’s latest film – which earned him Oscar nominations for Best Director, Original Screenplay and Best Picture – also reunited him with Graham Broadbent, who produced each of McDonagh’s feature films and went on to earn his second Best Picture Oscar nomination Three billboards outside of Ebbing, Missouri scored a nom in 2018. In conversation with THRBroadbent looks back on reading the script for McDonagh’s darkly funny fable for the first time and claims that when the Oscar-winning screenwriter-director calls about a new project, Broadbent knows it’s going to be extraordinary.

You have worked with Martin McDonagh on several occasions and with great success. Basically, when he comes forward with a new project, is it an instant yes?

It will always be an instant yes. But this one was a bit more out of the blue. Post Office-Three billboardsI didn’t know exactly what he was doing. He said he was working on something and it literally just popped into my inbox while I was on vacation over Christmas 2019. He said, “Read that stupid thing.” He is such a brilliant author that you will always devour every page and understand. I read it but I think I had to read it again because there isn’t much of a plot. It’s a brilliant story in a brilliant world, and I knew who the cast would be because they had those conversations. But I think I wrote back and said, “Very sad, very funny, very beautiful.” And then it was like, “Okay, let’s get started.” Why wouldn’t you go ahead with Martin and this script and these actors?

As far as I know, Martin has played around with a version of the script before Three billboards, possibly as a play, then mostly scrapped and restarted a few years ago. When did you first hear about the idea?

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I heard about it because he wanted to get Brendan and Colin back together. And he had written another script that he threw in the trash. He’s very, very hard on himself with material. If I read anything you have a very strong feeling that it’s probably what he wants to do next, which is fantastic. Since producers often spend a lot of time developing material, it always just comes out of the blue. Because he writes so well, because he’s such an extraordinary filmmaker, and because we’ve had so much success with it Three billboardsI think Martin wanted to say, ‘Where do I go next? How do I make a more extraordinary film?” It’s always very original. He always has humor and humanity and he has a brilliant relationship with his cast. He also has a unique relationship with the audience, which may be due to this [his roots in the] Theatre.

Compared to Three billboards, which felt very bombastic, this is a much quieter, more intimate film. Were you concerned about how audiences would take anything different from his previous work?

As a producer you should be very confident, but I knew what we were doing was extraordinary. Martin as a filmmaker was at his very best. I knew that because I saw Colin and Brendan and Barry perform on set [Keoghan] and Kerri [Condon], as well as the rest of the cast. Something really nice happened. Venice was our first real big show, and [I thought], “Wow, this very specific, unique, beautiful, funny and sad story actually plays out for an audience too.” And that was very reassuring. A week later we were in Toronto [with an audience of] 2,000 people. You could also feel the drama in the room.

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It’s a weird film to watch with other people – I feel like the humor comes out a lot more when others are laughing around you, which allows you to laugh about such dark subjects as well.

Martin has such a humanity and it runs through all of his work. He was never mean with his characters, even if they aren’t nice characters. And he has a tonal certainty – a scene can be both very funny and devastatingly sad. There is a tightrope walk that he walks. But his ability to know how to do that makes it easier as a producer. You know he can do it, and that’s where it gets exciting.

Were you concerned that this film might not make it to theaters and be seen mostly on streaming?

I think we’ve all learned in the last two or three years to accept things that we might not have hoped for. We were lucky because it is a very nice community experience. There’s something about that, the sadness and drama you feel in a shared space. Still, a lot of people watch it at home, and I get lovely messages about how moved and how entertained they were. But nothing beats [the theatrical] Experience.

How challenging was it to shoot in the Aran Islands? I heard some of these places don’t have cars.

It helped that Martin’s parents live near this area of ​​the west coast of Ireland. And Martin has written plays set in the Aran Islands before – he had visited them often so he knew the area he wanted to be in. My job is to support Martin to be as ambitious and brilliant as possible. And then just occasionally saying, “Let’s not overdo it.” Like many productions, we’ve been delayed by COVID. Then we were off the west coast of Ireland, where there was a lot of sea air and all the insects were blown away. That felt helpful. We shot on Inishmore for three or four weeks in August and it’s beautiful [location] for a film – a very special landscape. This is a place that gets 3,000 visitors a day during the summer holidays, but there are very few beds. We managed to use their tourist facilities for the crew after the season was over. When we finished there [we shot at] a second location called Achill Island which has the advantage of being connected to the mainland. It was a lot simpler logistically, but feels different – ​​a little softer, a little more melancholic.

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When you realized how many animal characters Martin wanted in the film, were you nervous?

(laughs.) It is interesting. Lots of animals work in movies, and dogs are great to train. But I had never encountered miniature donkeys before until I read Martin’s script. And then he showed me a picture of a miniature donkey. They’re just beautiful, extraordinary creatures, but they’re not quick learners — and they don’t necessarily adapt to a home environment. We literally trained on little donkey Jenny for about six months. Jenny had to have her friend there too, so she wasn’t alone. It’s a world of animals, somehow calmly observing this human nonsense. But Jenny was a very sweet little donkey and she did a wonderful job for us. And I think Colin was a little clingy.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

This story first appeared in a standalone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine in February. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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