Lorna Buttimer chats to Killian Scott about his role in Calvary, his fears, and his thoughts on that Love/Hate fizzy orange scene.
You probably know Killian Scott as Tommy from Love/Hate. The aforementioned show is of course the most notorious RTÉ production since Biddy and Miley farmed their way into our hearts. As you likely know, last season’s Love/Hate saw Killian grapple with some tough material. Tommy was severely brain damaged, leaving the character mentally and physically impaired in the last season. You’re probably wondering, like me, if the show is going to bump him next; maybe his appearance in Calvary is a strategic break for it? By his own admission, he is the most likely to go. But alas, dig as I might, the actor is revealing nothing. It was worth a try, I guess.
He is, of course, more forthcoming about Calvary, his latest film. The feature follows a kindly priest, who learns by confession that a parishioner plans to murder him in seven days, in retribution for the crimes of the Catholic Church. Not knowing whether the threat is real, the priest tries to put right the many problems in his small rural community, and reconnect with his estranged daughter before his ultimatum expires. Gleeson takes the lead as the Father in question, while Killian gifts his talents to Milo, one of Father James’ parishioners.
‘Milo is kind of operating on a different wavelength – a slightly unusual one. My instinctive reaction when I read it was, this guy – there is probably a sense of autism in the mix. Then I spoke to John [Michael McDonagh, director] about it. And yeah, he said, Asperger’s, he wanted it to be subtle. There are various forms of Asperger’s; we decided to go with a more contained sense of social inability. Milo’s predominate complaint is that he can’t engage socially, specifically with women, which is why he comes to the conclusion to either kill himself or join the army, naturally enough!’
Coping with these difficulties, Killian’s character approaches Father James for help. These days it might seem strange for a young person to confide in a priest. However, Killian feels that it’s down to Gleeson’s role in the film. ‘Brendan’s character is one I would trust in the film, you know, and I’m not conventional in that respect. The priest to me is a totally plausible source of advice.’
Unfortunately for Milo, the audience quickly line him up as a suspect in Father James’ would-be murder. A position he admits he missed at first. ‘You don’t prepare for the audience but John told me, ‘You need to be considered a plausible suspect’. So there are moments where we made slight nuances, in regards to a second look; there is something unsettling about the second look.’
He is, of course, not the film’s only suspect. Scott joins a list of others including some of the best screen talent on these shores, such as Chris O Dowd, Pat Shortt, Domhnall Gleeson and Aidan Gillian, to mention but a few. For most of the cast, Scott admits, ‘I only knew them through virtue of their careers. I had met Brendan because myself and his son Brian became good friends when we were shooting Love/Hate. I met Domhnall a couple of times. And Aiden, of course!’
Gleeson, though is a different kettle of fish. At this stage, he is a bone fide Irish film legend. Scott recognises this and admits the fear he felt at working with the man himself. ‘I remember the day we were filming my main scene in the film with Brendan and I remember just being in that trailer, pacing, smoking because of course it was delayed for ages and of course anxious goblins were appearing. But then I arrived, and Brendan is such a genius and welcoming actor that after a take or two I settled into it.’
Scott reveals, however, the McDonagh’s working style helped ease him into the whole process. ‘We kind of just ran it, and John never stopped us or we never did pickups. We just ran the whole thing, the whole way through and he didn’t talk to us that much, just a couple of basic notes. I felt he just let myself and Brendan find our way through it and it was a real pleasure.’
Further to that, Aiden’s presence also helped. ‘When Aiden was on set I felt a bit more comfortable and there was just this weird moment. There’s this scene where Aiden and me are sitting across from each other at a bar – I caught my reflection and I’m there with a dickie-bow, and I’m sitting very straight. And Aiden is just leaning there with a lollipop in his mouth and this moustache. And it was just a bizarre scenario to be in.’
Speaking of strange scenarios for the actor, he reveals his bemusement at audience reactions to the fizzy orange scene in the last season of Love/Hate. ‘I thought I had a really good radar for that kind of stuff. I was so baffled! I was surprised when that was something people ran with. I always thought that moment was quite tragic, it’s not say that people didn’t find it tragic but they also found humour in it. You can do that though, I mean Calvary is an example of that’.
Returning to Calvary, he makes it quite clear that he truly enjoyed the production of the film, ‘it was lovely – everyone genuinely bonded and got on really well. It was really a pleasant experience. Everyone was working at the top of their game and it just bred a real since of contentment. When you think something is quality, a real satisfaction comes from that’.
And so what’s next for the actor? Well, he’ll be working with no less than man-of-the-moment Michael Fassbender on a feature called Trespass Against Us. ‘It’s about a family of West Country travellers in the west of England in Gloucestershire. It’’s based on a documentary about a real family who were implicated in a serious of burglaries.’ It’s a good thing Scott got over his fears of Gleeson, as he too, is billed for the feature.
Calvary is in cinemas now.