An actor from Co Meath who features in two Oscar-nominated films says she is "proud" to be a part of a groundbreaking era in Irish cinema.
Mary Jo Needham from Athboy took part as an extra in The Banshees of Inisherin, the film starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson which received a record-breaking nine Oscar nominations earlier this week. The Athboy woman also had a role in An Cailín Ciúin, an Irish language film that is up for Best International Feature Film at this year's Academy Awards.
"It's amazing being in one Oscar-nominated film but two is something spectacular alright," she said.
"I couldn't believe it when the nominations were called out on Tuesday. It is absolutely fantastic. An Cailín Ciúin was filmed in Meath so there's great excitement around the place and it's great for the country as well."
"I'm really proud to have been involved, if only in a small way."
Unbelievably, Needham has only worked as an extra on four films in her life, two of which are up for Academy Awards.
She was one of over 100 extras cast in the Hollywood hit, The Banshees of Inisherin, directed by Martin McDonagh and filmed over six week on Achill Island but says she didn't even recognise herself in the scene due to drastic hair and make-up work.
I had no idea how big the movie was going to be
Needham, originally from Achill, appears in the famous pub scene as one of the villagers, nodding and clapping along to the trad music session as Colin Farrell's character peers through the window.
However, when the clip was played on The Late Late Show, during Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson's appearance as guests ahead of the film's release, Needham did not spot herself alongside the Dublin actor.
"I was watching it with my husband when the clip came on and I said I don't know any of the extras there, John," she said. “I went upstairs then and I came back about a half an hour later and my phone was alive.
"I was in the clip but I actually didn't recognise myself. There were at least three hairdressers around me during that scene with hairspray and all sorts of things. I didn't see myself on the day so it really didn't look like me.”
After finishing filming one night, a number of extras were selected from the bus for a last-minute scene just before it pulled off to leave.
"We were on the bus, ready to go home, and a guy called Calum, who was in charge of the extras, came in and picked me and three men and another woman but I was the only one who appeared in the film. The camera was directly on me in the pub, I could feel the heat of it. The music was playing in the background so I felt like there was something up.”
The Athboy resident applied to be an extra on the set for four days but ended up taking part in filming for three weeks, an experience she described as "fantastic".
"I’m from Achill Island and I go up and down regularly. I saw the ad in the Mayo News and I had been involved in three other movies before and I said, ‘sure look it, what else am I doing for the summer?’.
"They gave me a day to get set up with costume and they decked me out with my clothes for the duration was a very heavy underskirt and a very heavy overskirt and woolly socks. The shoes had been in multiple productions so they were a bit worn.
"I had no idea how big the movie was going to be. I wasn't expecting at all. I'm so happy for them because it was such an enjoyable experience being a part of it and they looked after us so well.
"Martin McDonagh was very nice, he thanked us at the end of the day like we were doing him a favour, even though he was paying us.
"He kept me back for the scene in the pub. There was five of us and afterwards he came out and he shook my hand and I was so shocked. That was the first time in 18 months that someone had shook my hand because we were in Covid times. It was a fantastic experience."