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Coverage by Nobuhiro Hosoki
Interview with Eileen Walsh
Q: After ten years, obviously there’s a certainly spontaneity and personal surprise that’s going to be a little lacking. Do you apply any essence from your real life [in this role]?
EW: Well I think, for me—‘cause I’ve been with my husband for 11 years. We were married five years or something. I think all relationships go through a quiet period—point where it’s not always honeymoon fumbling and romance and whatever. And that’s only natural. I think what happens for Billy and Breda is those moments of boringness and staleness lasted two months too long and suddenly you’re into a different stage. But most people kind of work through it and a natural cycle and you’re bound to get bored with each other, but then you reignite it again. That for me was about recognizing the loneliness you can have sometimes in a relationship and being brave enough to just extend it and expand it more.
Q. Could you talk about working on the set with the directors, with Declan and Eugene? This had a lot of raw material that people relate to on a certain level. How did you manage to—did [they] give you any insight into it? You already had a screenplay. Did it allow for you to have some input?
EW: I think because of doing the TV together, and it was a similar character in the sense that she was a small-town girl who didn’t necessarily aim fantastically high—she just wanted to be married and happy and content at home, and so I knew what way he wanted to go with this. We really worked on the last scene because we knew how important it was--we tried not to discuss it too much before then because obviously it was their lack of communication that is the secret to the story. Declan is very much a hands-off director; because of that you’ll allowed to discover your own way. Of course as soon as you go wrong, he’s be there to tell you “That’s now that way I wanted it.” But as soon as we did talk about the last scene in particular, and worked that through. It was because of knowing the play so well—there was a line that had been left out. For me as a woman hearing my sister say it on stage, it rang true to so many women I know. “I want you, I want you to come home to me.” It’s not that you need to be here. Because I had seen the play that was allowed to go back in. It was such an important line for me to be able to say.
Q: Did you find—even though these are guys, classically Irish guys, that they are able to have this sensitivity to the woman. At the end of the day it’s the woman who’s the hero of this film. She’s the one—her enlightenment is sort of the catalyst for giving something to the relationship. [Did you find] that they were remarkably sensitive?
EW: That’s been happening for years. I think Irish men are kind of known for their inability to break down and emote and discuss, yet we have the most fantastic male writers and artists, like Andrew Walsh and Conal McPherson and Eugene all have an ability to write fantastic roles for women and for men, but they tend to understand. They don’t necessarily have to be the most Romeo of men, but they—they get it. I think, yeah, it’s lovely to speak those words.
Q: The fallback, the cliché was that the man was in the pub while mom was taking care of the kids.
EW: I know, yeah, maybe so maybe so.
Q, It was a joke when I was coming up. They’re all mama’s boys. That’s why the Jews and the Irish understand each other. Not joking , do you think that might be part of it, the men were a lot informed by mothers by their women?
EW: Yeah, Probably. I think anybody who tends to be creative tends to be more in touch with their feminine side, only because it’s, you know, a lack of feeling the need to be bricklayers, having to go out there. A lot of us come from very normal families of dad going out working, mum staying at home. But yet I know, all the boys--all the writers I’ve spoken with have very close relationships with their fathers because their fathers tend to be incredibly proud of them, for not necessarily being stereotypical men and not being mama’s boys.
Q. Don’t let you call them mama’s boys.
EW. No, absolutely not, they’d kill me.
Q. You told us of your husband, … how you leave a certain space for each other to work it out. What’s the key secret in the marriage in your personal mind, to keep the relationship alive?
EW: I have no idea. No, I do think it’s the fact that I adore my work, I love what I do and that very much leads me to live a very fulfilled life that’s not just reliant on my husband, on his life, his friends. Everything is very independent of him, but yet to be without him would kill me, do you know what I mean? It’s lovely to have a togetherness but a separateness as well that allows us to be independent of each other. And I think it’s actually helps to be a healthy, happy little girl who’s very social and used to meeting new people all the time and confident, and I think that comes from a healthy home.
Q. Could you also talk about your collaboration with the actors, of how you were working together on the set?
EW: We had just done this play together in the Abbey in Dublin and it was three actors doing monologues, and we spent eight weeks together. By the time we came to filming it was old news to us in a way, we weren’t trying to get to know each other and get really close really quickly or anything like that. We were able to start off on Day One of the filming ignoring each other. It was almost like brotherly and sisterly immediately which was a perfect beginning for that relationship, you know.
Q: Billy’s character has a perfect excuse, he was a group provider to the family, and at the same time loyal to the kids as well. So in a sense, often in real life, do most of the husbands have an excuse like that, not to communicate? What’s your advice on that?
EW: Absolutely. I have no idea. I think all you can do is try and keep talking and find your way around issues with each other. The fact that he is a provider--he’s a good man and she knows that by heart. It’s just that he’s caught in this stumbling block, you know. I think once they get through this they’ll find ways of managing this silence and talking about it. I don’t know—I’m as lost as anyone else (Laughter).