Recommended second chance
Chris O’Dowd, star of Bridesmaids and The IT Crowd, recreates his Irish childhood in Sky1’s whimsical comedy Moone Boy, which he’s co-written and also appears in. Filmed in and around his home town of Boyle, County Roscommon, it’s the story of 11-year-old Martin Moone and his imaginary friend Sean Murphy (O’Dowd). TV Choice caught up with Chris — who has recently married TV presenter Dawn Porter — in London after filming had finished…
What was it like filming back home?
It was great. It’s a very small town and we had people turning up with boxes of sweets for the crew. A hairdresser who was out of town left his keys with the production manager in case anyone needed to wash their hair — it was so sweet. Our location manager said he’d never had an easier time asking for stuff!
Moone Boy grew out of a short film you made for Sky 1’s Little Crackers strand last Christmas. How did it come about?
I don’t think I’d have done it on my own, but my writing partner Nick Murphy was so terrific and easy to work with that it kind of made sense. It was daunting sitting down to write the first episode not knowing if it would work, but I’m very happy with it.
How would you describe the relationship between Martin and Sean?
Sean goes from being his protective, caring friend to the devil on his shoulder, within the same scene sometimes.
How did you cast David Rawle as Martin?
I wanted somebody local, in the same way that if we were making a show in Manchester, it would be silly to cast in London, even though that’s where most of the kid actors are. We went out into the country and saw a couple of hundred kids and he really stood out. He’s from 20 minutes down the road, so it was terrific.
Steve Coogan and Johnny Vegas are guest stars — what was it like filming with them?
They were both so up for it and lovely. There was rarely a time where I didn’t turn round during filming and they didn’t have their arms around someone having a photo taken.
It’s loosely based on your own family and friends in Ireland. Have you warned anyone about what they might see on screen?
I’ve decided to say nothing and if people are offended, to plead ignorance! I don’t think anyone will be offended. I think they will find it funny. It’s kind of a loving look at the world, although there will be a couple of gasps from my sisters for sure!
What was it like growing up with three older sisters?
It made me equally comfortable with and terrified of women, which lasts to this day. But it also made me very conscious of trying to get by with a joke — that pain will stop if you make them laugh — which is good advice for life. I also have an older brother who is in the show playing a family friend. I didn’t put him in the show as part of the family because when I was 11 he had gone to university, so I can’t really remember him being around. When I informed him of that he was like, ‘What, you’ve written me out of the family?!!’
There are scenes in which the family sit down to watch Dynasty — did that happen in your house?
Oh the girls were mad into Dynasty and Dallas. It was usually my bedtime and I’d pretend I’d gone to bed but watch it through a crack in the door. It’s odd because those shows couldn’t be more different to our world. It was like sci-fi for the countryside.
You’ve done a lot of film work — Bridesmaids and Friends With Kids — is it fun to be back on TV?
Yes, I love doing TV because it’s so immediate. Sometimes with film you are shooting things and you don’t know if it will see the light of day and what it will be like. With TV there’s the wonderful thing that you know it will be seen and there’s more intensity.
Did the popularity of Bridesmaids take you by surprise?
When we were filming it I knew it would be good because the script was great and everyone in it was really funny. But I didn’t see what the other girls were doing as I was filming my stuff with Kristen Wiig. So when I saw it for the first time I thought, ‘Wow, that’s funny’. I knew then that it would do really well.
Did you always have a passion for performing?
No, not at all. Not until I went to university did any of that stuff kick in and even then I used it as a way to escape the degree that I was doing. I started doing plays rather than going to politics lectures, then I just fell for it and loved it. Also, I was the youngest of five kids so there is a certain amount of performing you have to do to get fed!