With a quarter of this year’s Oscar nominees hailing from the Emerald Isle, it’s been a good year to be Irish in Hollywood. As JJ Abrams quipped, “Seven million people on that island and all of them are nominated.” Furthermore, it’s been a good time to be Barry Keoghan. As the left-of-center beating heart of director Martin McDonagh’s masterful Banshees of Inisherin–which itself broke the record for most nominations for an Irish film, 30-year-old Keoghan earned himself as many nods as there were award shows this season, and took home a BAFTA award, much to the pride of his hometown of Summerhill.
Much has been made of the actor’s difficult and humble beginnings, growing up in the inner-city community of Dublin–the loss of his mother at an early age, 13 foster homes, and his dogged pursuit of his unlikely first film role after coming upon a casting call in a local shop window. Yet Keoghan is nothing if not sunny of disposition—and with an earnest, gracious, take-life-as-it-comes scrappy demeanor and otherworldly talent, his ascent was quick and spotless: Nolan’s Dunkirk (2017). Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017). Nick Rowland’s small but praised Calm with Horses (2019). Acclaimed-drama series Chernobyl (2019). 2021 Best Picture Winner Chloe Zhao’s take on Marvel superheroes, Eternals. And his brief but effective turn as The Joker in Matt Reeves’ lauded The Batman (2022). He is an actor’s actor, a director’s actor, and the actor this generation’s A24 Hollywood dreams are made of.
Off the heels of wrapping Trey Edward Shults’ latest project—alongside The Weeknd and Jenna Ortega, and with talk of a role in Ridley Scott’s Gladiator sequel, and his turn in director Emerald Fennell’s Promising Young Woman follow-up Saltburn on the horizon, the new father to eight-month old Brando took time out to spill on some of his favorite things and the cultural staples that helped shape him.
What do you read or listen to daily?
Dave, Stormzy, and The Weeknd.
Song, band or album that brings you back.
Favorite book growing up?
Billy the Kid.
Favorite video game?
Simpsons Hit and Run.
Favorite junk food?
Italian, does that count as junk food? Carbs in general. This place L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele, that’s my new favorite in LA.
Movie you have seen the most times and why?
Cool Hand Luke. It’s a film that whenever I’m feeling low, it just sort of makes me feel good. It makes me feel like I can walk into any situation and just… keep my cool. And Paul Newman, what a legend.
Favorite sports movie?
Creed. I love that film.
Favorite holiday movie?
Jingle All the Way. With Arnie.
Favorite project you were in and why?
Banshees. We just really formed a little family on this set. Myself and Colin, Brendan, Kerry. And Martin. It was a very unique experience I’ll always be grateful for.
Project you get approached or recognized for the most?
Probably Banshees at this point.
TV series you can binge watch more than once?
Sopranos. In fact, I’m gonna start it again tonight!
Actor who had the most influence on you?
Colin Farrell. He was just someone that I massively looked up to, who had a huge influence on me in every way. Hi Colin, if you’re reading this [laughs].
Also Leonardo DiCaprio, of course. And Daniel Day Lewis.
Favorite bar in the world?
This pub by my house in Dublin, Bridge Tavern. It has a sign outside that says “Leave your feelings at the door.” Which is really the right frame of mind to walk into any bar.
Favorite restaurant anywhere?
I’m in LA now so I’ll pick a place I love here. Dan Tana’s. I went there the other night and it was great.
Place that makes you feel nostalgic?
Anywhere my son Brando is.
Best sports moment of your life?
Watching Conor McGregor fight Mayweather. It was a bringing together of two legends. Two different disciplines and sports. It was incredible to get to see that.
Morning person or night owl?
Morning. I like to get the day going, go the gym, get the day started right.
How many hours a night of sleep do you need to function?
I can function on four. But I may not be at my best [laughs].
Favorite character from anything?
Artful Dodger. He’s someone I always associated with growing up. I even took it a little too literally and tried pick-pocketing… [laughs] a little insider info there for LEO.
Person you look up to the most?
The woman raising my baby boy. I see how hard it is, and how amazing she is at it; I want to learn from her and be able to be that for him too.
In another life I would have been_?
A wolf. An animal I feel a real kinship to.
What would you go back and tell your 13-year-old self?
Aw man. We did it. We got there.
Advice you would leave to your child?
Don’t look up to me, look alongside me.