Tuesday 22 October 2019

'How are you going to lighten it? Feed them?' - Stephen Rea reveals Hollywood rejected Famine film in 90s as it was too 'heavy'

Rea stars in Black 47, set during the Famine, which releases in Ireland on September 5

Irish actor Stephen Rea poses during a photocall before a press conference to present the film
Irish actor Stephen Rea poses during a photocall before a press conference to present the film "Black 47" in competition during the 68th Berlinale film festival on February 16, 2018 in Berlin. TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Stephen Rea is currently starring in Black 47, a thriller set during the Famine in Ireland in the 1840s.

It's the first film to tackle the atrocity on the big screen, but Rea has revealed that another Famine film was mooted in Hollywood over twenty years ago.

Speaking on Today FM, he said, "They did try to do one in the 90s.  I was invited to participate and someone in America said, 'It's very heavy.  Couldn't they lighten it?'

"My agent at the time said, 'how are you going to lighten it?  Feed them?'"

Barry Keoghan in Black 47.
Barry Keoghan in Black 47.

Black 47 is written and directed by Lance Daly and stars James Frecheville as Martin Feeney, a former British soldier who returns to Ireland in 1847 to find his family and his people have been destroyed by two long years of famine.

He discovers his mother starved to death and his brother was hanged by the English. With little else to live for, he sets a destructive path of revenge.

Sarah Greene
Sarah Greene

Rea believes the film will strike a chord with the Irish American population in the US, as many of their ancestors would have left Ireland at that time.

It was announced this month that US distributors IFC Films have signed a deal to roll the film out in the US with a release date of September 28.

The film also stars Barry Keoghan, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Freddie Fox, Moe Dunford, and Sarah Greene and will release in Ireland on September 5.

Read more: 'My whole aim has been to show my range' - Barry Keoghan talks 'American Animals' and 'Black 47'

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