Irish Talent on the Rise in Hollywood


As Irish director Ciarán Foy’s Hollywood debut, Sinister 2, hits cinemas we take a look at some of the Irish talent currently making waves in Hollywood.


Irish film talent, both on and off-screen, has always been a fixture in Hollywood, with several stalwarts having ongoing relationships, some having occasional flirtations, and many continuing to struggle with smaller roles and never quite making a breakthrough. Irish filmmaker Ciarán Foy [pictured above on the set of Sinister 2 with producer/writer Scott Derrickson] is just about to release his first Hollywood film, Sinister 2, this Friday. He secured this directing gig as a result of his well-received debut, Citadel. His Hollywood debut marks a fresh interest from Los Angeles in Irish talent.

Hollywood honchos have an enthusiastic eye for Irish talent, keenly monitoring local productions and lower budget Irish films to mine what individuals might be available to help them make an impact.

On screen, Irish talent has always been very well represented in Hollywood films, going back as far as Maureen O’Hara in The Quiet Man to more recent home-grown successes like Saoirse Ronan, for whom word of mouth is very strong for her performance in the upcoming Brooklyn. Recently mentioned in the top ten Hollywood earners of 2014 was Liam Neeson, mostly as a result of his appearances in action thrillers like the Taken franchise and A Walk Among The Tombstones. Relative newcomer Jack Reynor’s breakout role in What Richard Did earned him a key role in the most recent film in the Transformers franchise, significantly raising his visibility in Hollywood circles and giving him enviable access to casting directors.

Colin Farrell continues to carve out an interesting career path for himself, having come to the attention of Hollywood bosses following his role opposite Kevin Spacey in Ordinary Decent Criminal. Farrell has been determined to mix high profile big budget films with lower key films, most recently making an impact in the US with his performance in the hugely popular tv show ‘True Detective’. Also being lauded for his upcoming role in the offbeat The Lobster, Farrell has a knack for working with some of the most influential and critically acclaimed filmmakers, including Steven Spielberg, Michael Mann, Woody Allen and Terry Gilliam.

Off-screen, Irish filmmaking talent is currently experiencing a wave of new interest from Hollywood producers, having had significant success with other Irish filmmakers in the last few decades including Neil Jordan, Jim Sheridan and John Moore.

Ciarán Foy, writer and director of cult favourite Citadel, caught the eye of Hollywood producer Scott Derrickson. Foy has recently confirmed the rumour that he noticed that Derrickson had sent a tweet to recommend Citadel to his followers, to which Foy replied. The two stayed in communication and this ultimately led to Foy being offered the job to direct Sinister 2. Foy took the step of moving to LA full time instead of choosing to shoot the film and return to Ireland. Foy’s distinctive visual style and proven ability to direct children were key elements to him securing the directing gig, which opens in Ireland, and across the US, on Friday, 21st August. Currently in development with a number of projects, Foy is keen to continue working both in Hollywood and in Ireland on genre films.



Director of the highly acclaimed Pilgrim Hill and Glassland, Irish filmmaker Gerard Barrett has been generating a lot of buzz in Hollywood circles. He was listed by one of the ‘LA Stars of Tomorrow’ by industry bible Screen Daily. Barrett studied film at Tralee IT and won the IFTA Rising Star Award for his debut film Pilgrim Hill. That film went on to win a number of international awards, bringing him to the attention of Hollywood producers. He solidified this interest with his sophomore film, Glassland, which also brought international acclaim. Barrett’s next film sees him working very much in the Hollywood system with Brain On Fire, which will be produced by Charlize Theron and will star Chloe Grace-Moretz.



The Leviathan, the latest project from filmmaker Ruairí Robinson, has been picked up by Hollywood heavyweights Simon Kinberg (X-Men) and Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium). After an impressive teaser for the film, produced with the assistance of the Irish Film Board, went viral in recent months, both Kinberg and Blomkamp jumped on board to respectively produce and exec produce the full feature based on the teaser. Robinson was previously Oscar nominated for his short film Fifty Percent Grey and also directed The Last Days on Mars, starring Liev Schreiber,  two years ago. The teaser for The Leviathan is currently at almost 1.5 million views on YouTube and even more on Vimeo, showcasing a visually arresting style by the filmmaker bolstered by some spectacular CGI effects.



Foy, Barrett and Robinson are making very significant advances on the Hollywood circuit as a result of work which they’ve cultivated in Ireland – a reminder of the vital support provided by Irish film agencies and how this can feed into generating sustainable careers for filmmaking talent.


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