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Friday 19 July 2019

The Commitments: Where are they now?

The Commitments
The Commitments
The Commitments
Music man Robert Arkins. Photo: Damien Eagers.

Tanya Sweeney

With Roddy Doyle's The Commitments opening at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre in October to coincide with the popular film, we look at where the cast are now.

In 1991 the talented young cast had been plucked from working-class obscurity by director Alan Parker to become overnight stars when the film was a box office success.

The Commitments

But what happened next for the stars of the movie about down-at-heel Dubliners who found fame as a soul covers band?

 Angeline Ball: Imelda Quirke (backing vocals)

Angeline Ball's Home Cook's Academy on TV3

Now 47, Cabra-born Ball, who played a feisty firebrand in the film, recently returned to work after a prolonged career break. The mum-of-two, who divides her time between London, LA and France, was seen most recently in Shameless and is due to appear on RTE's EastEnders spinoff, Redwater.

Glen Hansard: Outspan Foster (guitar)

Glen Hansard

Recently claiming he was "burned" by The Commitments experience, after his role as Outspan Foster, Hansard returned to play with his band, The Frames, and went on to enjoy chart success with albums, For The Birds and Burn The Maps. As a side project, he formed the folk group The Swell Season with Czech singer and future girlfriend Marketa Irglova. The pair starred in and wrote the score for John Kearney's romantic fable, Once, going on to win an Oscar for Best Song - and giving a heartfelt acceptance speech that made global headlines. Hansard has since recorded two solo albums - one of which, Didn't He Ramble, was nominated for a Grammy Award this year - and had a guest role on NBC series, Parenthood. His current tour takes in the UK, US and Australia before he plays Vicar Street in November.

Andrew Strong: Declan Cuffe (vocals)

Andrew Strong in 2016. Pic: Belfast Telegraph

With his inimitable voice, Strong's future as a musician was all but assured. His career was kick-started with a Grammy Award nomination in 1991, the same year he appeared in the film at the age of 16. Andrew released a solo album in 1994, moved to Denmark and toured the world with Prince, Elton John, Bryan Adams and The Rolling Stones. Currently, he divides his time between his solo endeavours and a side-project entitled the Bone Yard Boys, playing to packed houses across Europe and Australia.

Bronagh Gallagher: Bernie ­McGloughlin (backing vocals)

Bronagh Gallagher

The Derry singer/actress who played bolshie Bernie ended up in some of the biggest films in recent years including Pulp Fiction, Star Wars Episode The Phantom Menace and Sherlock Holmes. Up next is the German-Irish film co-written by Colm Toibin, Return to Montauk, scheduled for release next year.

Robert Arkins: Jimmy ­Rabbitte (manager)

Music man Robert Arkins. Photo: Damien Eagers.

As the main pin-up, it was widely believed that Arkins would become the film's breakout star. Yet despite starring in a short film, What Are You Looking At?, in 1998, the Dubliner decided not to pursue an acting career. Arkins moved into film soundtrack work in recent years and reportedly lives in Dublin, is married and has two children.

Johnny Murphy: Joey 'The Lips' Fagan (trumpet)

Johnny Murphy. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Van Morrison and Rory Gallagher were mooted for the role of the enigmatic trumpeter, however, it is thought that director Alan Parker wanted an experienced actor to mentor the mainly untrained cast. Post-Commitments, Murphy went on to enjoy roles in Irish classics like Into the West and Angela's Ashes. The beloved actor died of respiratory failure in February of this year.

Maria Doyle Kennedy: Natalie Murphy (singer)

Maria Doyle Kennedy

Enjoying successful dual careers since her acting debut as Natalie Murphy, Maria went onto deliver a string of high-profile performances in hit shows Queer as Folk, The Tudors, Orphan Black and Dexter. She starred in UTV's big-budget blockbuster, Titanic and became one of television's most hated women thanks to a wicked performance as evil Mrs Bates in Downton Abbey. Most recently, she starred in horror smash hit, The Conjuring 2. Musically, she had success alongside husband Kieran Kennedy with The Black Velvet Band before launching herself as a solo artist.

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