Oscar-winning screenwriter John Patrick Shanley says he had a simple reason for wanting to shoot his play, Outside of Mullingar, in a movie: location, location, location.
“Sometimes you play a play and you want to make it into a movie and people don’t think that’s a good idea. But when you’re playing on a game board in Ireland it’s definitely a good idea, ”Shanley said during the Bleecker Street panel for Wild mountain thyme at the Deadline Contenders Rewards Season Event. “Because you can go to Ireland and this beautiful countryside and endless wild skies, with all these real animals, and the wind, rain and sun going through the frame every 15 minutes or so. It is an adventure to shoot in Ireland and a positive adventure.
The whimsical, old-fashioned romantic comedy was filmed in County Mayo and is based on Shanley’s own family. The man behind Moonstruck, Doubt and more was thrilled to have what he called an A-Team of a cast for this story, in which Emily Blunt’s Rosemary has lived alongside Jamie Dornan’s Anthony since they were kids and she instinctively knows he’s the right guy for her. The only problem is that he’s hopelessly distraught, a fact that Dornan told me he was well aware of while playing him.
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“He can’t see the light of the trees – when I first read the script I just wanted to give him a hug, or shake him or something just to wake him up to what’s in front of him, which is offered to him. He just can’t see it, ”he says, acknowledging that Anthony may be the least normal person he’s ever played. “I’ve played dark, twisted, psychopathic characters before, but in a way Anthony is less normal than any of them,” he laughs. “But I have never read anything so lyrical as Wild mountain thyme. We speak almost in verse. John wrote it in such a way that you can’t really wait to say the words.
The cast includes wonderful Irish actors (Dornan himself is from Ireland), as well as Jon Hamm and Christopher Walken, the latter playing Anthony’s father in an Oscar-worthy performance although Walken couldn’t be less. Irish in real life.
“I mean, when you’ve got Christopher Walken, you put a radio on a planet and he’s parachuting around that world for a little while and doing whatever he decides to do,” Shanley laughs. “And then it shines where it comes from.”
Watch the panel video above.