In the field of movie business, few moves are as bold as having the courage to decline a chance to work with a great director like Ridley Scott. Yet, Irish actor Barry Keoghan did just that, opting to forgo a role in Scott’s Gladiator 2 to take on a more unconventional project, which is Andrea Arnold’s Bird.

Barry Keoghan
Barry Keoghan after a Masters of the Air reception | Credits: Wikimedia Commons/Sr. Airman Austin Pate

Oscar nominee for The Banshees of Inisherin, Keoghan has swiftly become one of the most highly acclaimed actors of the present time. His choice to focus on Bird instead of the big-budget sequel of Gladiator was brave, but it was aligned with his vision and passion for the project.

Barry Keoghan and Franz Rogowski Reveal the Conditions of Working in Bird

Screening of Bird at Cannes Film Festival
Screening of Bird at Cannes Film Festival | via Festival de Cannes YouTube

Bird had its world premiere at Cannes recently. It is a story revolving around a 12-year-old aspiring artist named Bailey, played by debutant Nykiya Adams. Barry Keoghan is portraying the character of Bug who is Bailey’s father. His role requires a great level of physical and emotional vulnerability.

Keoghan’s interest in Bird went beyond the story. He was fascinated by the way Arnold shot the film. During an interview with IndieWire, Keoghan and Franz Rogowski talked about the challenges they and their co-stars went through while shooting for the movie. 

Keoghan and Rogowski talked about the importance of waiting in sets in between shoots and maintaining the energy required for the scene while shooting. Keoghan said,

You don’t have a trailer to go to, which I prefer, and I really truly mean that. You’re in the deep end of it with everyone else. She doesn’t give you a script. You don’t have lines to learn. It’s just pure, spontaneous, and instinctive. She’s almost trying to break you down in the gentlest way so you can be honest and truthful.

Adding to Keoghan’s words, Rogowski revealed what it is like to work with Arnold,

The art of waiting is something I’m totally not capable of in real life. It drives me insane if I don’t know what to do. I do all kinds of silly things to numb myself or to just label it or whatever. With [Andrea Arnold], you can’t. You are a silent hunter with her.

Rogowski also revealed that Andrea Arnold would ask the actors to figure out a way themselves as they were not given any script prior to the shoot. The process was very spontaneous and actors used to trust her vision and follow her directions.

Why Did Barry Keoghan Decline Gladiator 2?

Gladiator | via Paramount Pictures YouTube

Although the decision to reject Gladiator 2 may be surprising to some, Keoghan has strong explanations, which are based on his passion and dedication to his craft and creativity. Speaking to IndieWire, he talked about the reasons for his exit from Ridley Scott‘s project.

Um, conflicts, schedule conflicts. I am a massive fan of “Gladiator” and a massive fan of that cast. It’s a shame you can’t do both. But that happens in this game. You can’t do both.

His co-actor Franz Rogowski, added more to what was said by stating that there are common cases where certain decisions are made due to conflicts within production departments.

I think sometimes it’s also due to productions that play little power games and then you just have to say, ‘OK, bye bye.’ But it’s unnecessary. It’s very rare that you really can’t do both. Most of the time, it’s two productions claiming they’re right and pretending that they can’t change the schedule.

Moreover, Keoghan added that shooting in two different countries also make it difficult for the producers. Despite the disappointment of not working on the Gladiator sequel, Keoghan did not have any regret. While talking to IndieWire, he also appreciated Arnold’s direction and the fact that he was able to give himself completely to his character of Bug.

While the future is unclear, Keoghan’s choice of pursuing art over status can result in one of the two possible scenarios. If Bird is able to move the audiences and critics, it might finally establish him as an artist who is not afraid to experiment for the sake of the artistic value of his performance. However, if Bird doesn’t work and Gladiator 2 goes to be a huge success, Keoghan might regret letting go of the chance to work with the Hollywood icon.

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!
Explore from around the WEB