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Oscar-nominated actor Kerry Condon on her role in 'The Banshees of Inisherin'


"The Banshees Of Inisherin" is racking up awards nominations, including Oscar for best picture, screenplay, director, two for best supporting actor and for best supporting actress. Kerry Condon - she plays Siobhan, the sister of Padraic - goes to a pub on their island to dress down her brother's best friend, Colm, for suddenly ignoring her brother.


KERRY CONDON: (As Siobhan) You can't just all of a sudden stop being friends with a fella.

BRENDAN GLEESON: (As Colm) Why can't I?

CONDON: (As Siobhan) Why can't you? Because it isn't nice. Has he said something to you when he was drunk?

GLEESON: (As Colm) No, I prefer him when he's drunk. It's all the rest of the time that the problem is.

CONDON: (As Siobhan) What's the [expletive] matter, then?

GLEESON: (As Colm) He's dull, Siobhan.

CONDON: (As Siobhan) But he's always been dull. What's changed?

GLEESON: (As Colm) I've changed. I just don't have a place for dullness in my life anymore.

CONDON: (As Siobhan) But you live on an island off the coast of Ireland, Colm. What the hell are you hoping for, like?

SIMON: Kerry Condon joins us now from Los Angeles. Thanks so much for being with us.

CONDON: Thanks a million for having me on.

SIMON: Why do you think this film has caught on? It's set, you know, a century ago, on an isolated community in an island?

CONDON: I suppose there's loads of reasons. Like, first of all, it deals with a theme that I feel like everyone in the world has sort of experienced at some point or another. A breakup, basically, is what it's about, a breakup of a friendship, but it could equally be a breakup of a relationship. Then it also deals with existential questions, kind of probably things we thought about during COVID when we had time to think about them of, like, what am I doing with my life? Like, where is my life going? Like, what's the purpose of my life? Those sorts of questions that Colm, Brendan Gleeson's character, is kind of plagued with. And then also, it's really beautiful, you know? It's just so beautifully shot in beautiful part of the world.

SIMON: Another character says of Siobhan, she prefers reading to chatting.


SIMON: Well, is Siobhan happy on that island?

CONDON: I don't - at this point, when you find her in the story, she's worn thin. And I think it's becoming, like, a drudgery and taking care of her brother - like, while they're sweet siblings, she's more of a mother to him. She's doing everything. She's doing the washing. She's buying groceries. She's cooking. She's doing everything. And he's doing nothing but sitting around moping and going to the pub. Well, actually, he does do a little bit with his animals and stuff, in all fairness to him. But, you know, he doesn't do a lot. And I think before the film starts, she's already applied for this job on the mainland, which I kind of thought in my head was more done out of wishful thinking. Like, I don't think she thought she was going to ever hear back from them, but she's already thinking about leaving.

SIMON: Yeah. Tough life being a woman in Ireland a century ago, wasn't it?

CONDON: I think, yeah. I suppose - I was going to say it's still a tough life being a woman, but then I was like, actually it's not. You know, in comparison, it's not at all because, you know, they'd no contraception around it then. Like, when you think back in it, like, the amount of kids the poor women had and all, it must have been awful, and it must have caused awful upset in the relationship when you'd be like, get off me to your husband, 'cause you're like, I just don't want to have another baby, you know? And they had to put up with a lot. You know, there's all sorts of hurt there, the civil war and everything. And yeah, you could go on and on, you know, the famine and everything.

SIMON: You know, I know a lot of people ask what it's like to work with Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell, but I love the donkey.

CONDON: Oh, God - little tiny Jenny.

SIMON: Well, the most charming donkey.

CONDON: Adorable. The people, there was a girl, Megan, who was in charge of Jenny. And she was so sweet, Megan. I used to love hanging around with her. And Jenny was quite young. And so she would have been very nervous on her own. So she had a friend donkey with her who was a little older and a little more confident. And that donkey was called Rosie. And I was mad about Rosie, to be honest, because, you know, everyone loved Jenny 'cause Jenny was a little smaller, and of course Jenny was the star and everything. But only for Rosie, we wouldn't have got Jenny to do certain things 'cause Rosie would come on set and be off camera. And so Jenny would see Rosie and be like, oh, well, Rosie's here, and Rosie's chilling out, so I guess it's OK. And so therefore Jenny would sit down or do stuff, like, relaxed because her friend was really close by.

SIMON: You were 19 on the stage of the Royal Shakespeare, playing Ophelia in "Hamlet."


SIMON: What was that like?

CONDON: It was repertoire, so I was doing "The Lieutenant Of Inishmore" - Martin McDonagh, the writer of this film, his play - at the same time, and I had to shave my hair off for Martin's play. It was nuts. It was hard. It was a year and a half. And I think in the end I'd done 125 performances of "Hamlet," and the "Hamlet" was like - it was a kind of, like - they didn't cut a lot out of it, so it was, like, four hours long or something. I remember just being like, oh, come on (laughter).

SIMON: We get the point, yeah.

CONDON: Yeah, 'cause I'd be dead an hour and a half before the end. And I used to go upstairs and have a shower for, like, an hour, and I could hear the performances so I wouldn't miss the curtain call. But I was just sitting in the shower 'cause I was like, oh, come on, hurry on and finish so I can go home.

SIMON: Oh, mercy. Well, let me ask, now that you're no longer 19, what advice would you give your younger self?

CONDON: Oh, God. What advice would I give myself? I'm not being all woe is me or anything, but I really wasn't given advice by anybody because I didn't have any contacts in the business at all. Like, I didn't really have my parents helping me because my first job was when I was 16, and at that point, like, I was an adult and technically and in film terms, so I didn't have a chaperone or anything. So I don't know what advice I would give myself. Like, I feel like I did everything as best I could. And also a little part of me is reluctant to dole out advice because I'm like, well, I had to learn it the hard way, so unless you're paying me, I'm not giving it out for free.


SIMON: All right, that's fair. You've been a professional since you've been a teenager. What's it going to be like to be at the Oscar ceremonies?

CONDON: Oh, man, it's, like - it's going to be so crazy 'cause, like, I totally watched the Oscars all the time when I was younger. Like, we taped it. It was a real big deal in our house. And I remember so many moments in the Oscars. So it feels a bit surreal to me that it's - like, a kind of, like, it isn't real or something. Like, if - when people say, like, an Academy Award nominee, I'm just like - I kind of start laughing 'cause I'm like, what's happened? But then at the same time, you know, it's been, like, 24 years, too. And I moved to America and have been here on my own, like, at it for a long time. So I do feel a little bit like thank you very much for recognizing that I've been trying for such a long time.

SIMON: Kerry Condon, who is nominated for best supporting actress for her role in "The Banshees Of Inisherin," thank you so much for being with us.

CONDON: It was a pleasure. Thanks for having me, so much.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.