Sunday, 15 August 2010

President Josiah Bartlet is coming to Borrisokane

After years of rumours it is finally confirmed. Not only does our parish look forward to a visit from President Barack Obama, now we can also look forward to that other great president of the 21st Century paying us a visit and making a movie in Borrisokane this October. Not his first visit mind you, Martin Sheen whose mother hails from these parts is a regular visitor. As a recent convert to the West Wing I am looking forward to an opportunity to maybe meet this great actor. What is it about this parish? - Next we will discover we have Bush connections! Actually that is a nightmare and if it came true I would be burning all the records I could find ;)

This from today's London Sunday Times

Low-budget movie brings a Hollywood Sheen to Borrisokane

West Wing star to play a priest who questions his vocation as he attempts to establish a rural cinema despite opposition from the church hierarchy
Eithne Shortall
Published: 15 August 2010

From the West Wing to Borrisokane: actor Martin Sheen is to play an Irish priest in a low-budget production being filmed in the North Tipperary town where his mother was born.

Sheen, best known for his roles in Apocalypse Now and as President Josiah Bartlet in The West Wing, is to play Canon Barry, a priest who questions his vocation as he attempts to establish a rural cinema under opposition from politicians and the Catholic church hierarchy in the 1950s.

Stella Days, which is based on a self-published book by a local bank official, will be directed by Thaddeus O’Sullivan, who made Ordinary Decent Criminal. Stephen Rea, star of The Crying Game, and Atonement’s Romola Garai will also feature.

The movie was due to shoot in 2007 but was postponed due to legal and financial issues. Filming, largely in Borrisokane, has now been confirmed for the end of October.

Sheen, a devout Catholic, has remained committed to the low-budget project for five years. He was first approached about it while visiting the birthplace of his mother, Mary Ann Phelan, in 2005.

“Martin is very interested in Catholicism. The appeal was a combination of playing a priest who was questioning his vocation and the story’s setting,” said O’Sullivan.

The director said the movie’s theme is Barry’s battle with bishops and politicians who have a “de Valerian attitude” to the cinema and think it will lead to foreign influences. Sheen’s character is based on a real-life Canon Cahill, a local priest who was the driving force behind the opening of the Stella cinema.

Michael Doorley, the bank official from Borrisokane, who is now living in Bray, wrote the book as a hobby and published it himself on a modest scale. Maggie Pope, a producer on Stella Days who worked on Into the West, came upon it in a Dublin bookshop.

“If people think we’re in a recession now, Ireland in the 1950s was 10 times worse,” said Doorley. “The Catholic church ruled the roost and it was a very reactionary country. They were almost condemning Hollywood from the pulpit, it was that bad. This is definitely a recession movie.”

The Irish Film Board has provided €600,000 in funding and the production will also avail of Section 481 film tax breaks.

Sheen, 70, has visited Ireland frequently since 1973. He has cousins in Tipperary and studied at NUI Galway in 2006.


brianna said...

Thanks for the information Stephen. Please keep us posted. I must be in Borrisokane in October.!!! I just love the West Wing and am in love with Martin!!!!

Paul Flynn said...

The book is a great read. Congrats to Michael Doorley. The fine cast and great director will do the book justice.I look forward to seeing the end product.

John Barry said...

Here is an interesting bit of information concerning George W Bush:
....Other important individuals in the Bush family tree include the Spencer family that produced Diana, Princess of Wales, which makes George W. Bush a 17th cousin to Prince William of Wales....
From Ancestry of George Walker Bush