Bless me father: Sheen joins the men in black for new movie role
HE'S played a khaki-clad soldier in Vietnam, a blue-collar airline union leader and, more recently, a dapper US president. But yesterday, film legend Martin Sheen was donning clerical garb for his new movie set in Ireland.
The 'West Wing' actor was in Fethard for the filming of 'Stella Days', which is in the middle of a three-week shoot in the Co Tipperary town.
The star of Hollywood hits like 'Apocalypse Now', 'Badlands' and 'Wall Street' is starring in the movie which is set in 1950s Ireland and tells the tale of a priest who establishes a cinema for his parishioners but, in so doing, falls foul of the bishop.
Yesterday was a busy day of filming for Sheen, who plays the main part of Fr Daniel. There was no time to stop and chat, although he waved and smiled at bystanders as they watched the film crew doing their business.
"The town is brilliant," location manager Dermot Cleary said yesterday. "Everyone is just so relaxed. They're all coming out to watch but they're all very respectful."
It's believed that part of the attraction for Sheen was that the story is set in Borrisokane in north Tipperary, his mother's native village.
The film is based on Martin Doorley's book, 'Stella Days 1957-1967: The Life and Times of a Rural Irish Cinema'.
Production staff plumped for Fethard when it came to location shoots, however, because they felt that, as a heritage town, its buildings were more preserved and less changes had to be made to recreate a 1950s look. 'Stella Days' also stars Stephen Rea and Amy Huberman.
Among the locations used for shooting in Fethard were McCarthy's on Main Street, famous for its horseracing links and the spot where local trainer Mouse Morris brought home the Cheltenham Gold Cup after War of Attrition's win in 2006.
Up to 600 locals recently auditioned in the ballroom for parts as extras in the film, while other locations include the Holy Trinity Church, the Town Hall and Ahearne's shop, the interior of which was transformed to replicate the 1950s for the opening days of filming this week.
'Stella Days' is directed by Thaddeus O'Sullivan, the man behind movies such as 'The Princess Bride' and 'Ordinary Decent Criminal' as well as the recent TV mini-series 'Into the Storm', which starred Brendan Gleeson as Winston Churchill and won a range of awards and plaudits.