“Gold” director Niall Heery, whose film opens the ninth Capital Irish Film Festival, talks about what it takes to bring big name actors to the screen and deliver a comic favorite.
Q: You have a couple of big names in the cast of Gold-- was it tough to get them on board?
Niall--Casting is rarely straightforward. It helps if you've got a good casting director. In our case John and Ros Hubbard did a great job. Maisie (Williams) and James (Nesbitt) happened pretty quickly. With James, we made him an offer and then I was talking to him within 24 hours. Maisie just did a great audition and that made the decision very easy. David Wilmot is someone whose work I respected. I had just seen him in “Shadow Dance”,’ which I thought he was great in, so I arranged to meet him. We spoke at length about the role and he just connected with the character in a way that felt very truthful.
Q: You wrote the screenplay with your brother Brendan. Does your own family experience find its way into the film?
Niall--Not specifically no, it’s not autobiographical in any way. That said, I think when you’re writing any relationship, it does involve a certain amount of self-reflection because you’re trying to understand human beings, you’re trying to understand other people’s struggles and sometimes the easiest way to do that is to find the truth of those situations within yourself, which is hopefully universal.
Q: Where did you get the inspiration for Nesbitt's character?
Niall--I’m not sure where the inspiration came from, but early on we had this idea about a guy who feels very insecure when his kid’s biological father turns up and totally over-compensates as a result. When Ray comes back, Nesbitt’s world begins to fall apart but he doesn’t really have the emotional tools or emotional insight to realise what exactly is going on. He just assumes that he’s under attack, which isn’t really the case. I remember thinking if all of his scenes were battles, I wanted him to lose them all. He’s a bit like a duck floating on water and trying to look composed but kicking like crazy underneath to try and stay afloat.
Q: What's your most memorable moment on set?
Niall--I’m not sure there’s a single isolated moment. In principle, just watching your cast bring something you wrote to life is very rewarding. When you’re writing, it’s effectively just a role you’re creating. So when you hand it over to an actor who breathes life into it and it suddenly becomes a real person--that’s a pretty great feeling.
Q: What project(s) are you currently working on?
Niall--We’re always working on a handful of ideas. We have two scripts we’re working on right now, one is a big-budget American film that we’re doing with the production company who produced “Gold” and”Small Engine Repair” and then we have a smaller comedy we’d love to do towards the end of the year.
Niall Heery will be among Solas Nua’s special guests at the Capital Irish Film Festival on Feb. 5, when “Gold” opens the festival. He will join us for an audience meet and greet at the E Street Cinema after the show. Get your tickets at Eventbrite