Oscar winning screenwriter John Patrick Shanley says he had a simple reason for wanting to turn his play, Outside Mullingar, into a movie: location, location, location.
“Sometimes you are doing a play and you want to make it into a movie and people don’t think it is a good idea. But when you are doing a play set in Ireland, it is definitely a good idea,“ Shanley says during Bleecker Street’s panel for Wild Mountain Thyme at Deadline’s Contenders Film awards-season event. “Because you get to go to Ireland and that beautiful countryside and those endless wild skies, and having all those actual animals, and wind and rain and sunshine that pass through the frame about every 15 minutes. It is an adventure to shoot in Ireland, and a positive one.”
The whimsical and old fashioned romantic comedy was shot in County Mayo and is based on Shanley’s own family. The man behind Moonstruck, Doubt and more also was thrilled to have what he called an A-team of a cast for this story, in which Emily Blunt’s Rosemary has lived next door to Jamie Dornan’s Anthony since they were kids and she instinctively knows he is the right guy for her. The only problem is he’s hopelessly clueless, a fact Dornan told me he was well aware of in playing him.
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“He can’t see the light from the trees — when I first read the script I just wanted to give him a hug, or give him a shake or something just to wake him up to what’s in front of him, what’s on offer. He just can’t see it,“ he says, agreeing that Anthony might be the least normal person he has ever played. “I have played some dark, twisted and psychopathic characters before, but in a way Anthony is less normal than any of them,“ he says, laughing. “But I have never read anything as lyrical as Wild Mountain Thyme. We almost talk in verse. John has written it in such a way that you can’t really wait to say the words.”
The cast includes some wonderful Irish actors (Dornan himself is from Ireland), along with Jon Hamm and Christopher Walken, the latter of whom plays Anthony’s father in a performance that is Oscar worthy even if Walken couldn’t be less Irish in real life.
“I mean when you have Christopher Walken you radio up to some planet and he sort of parachutes into this world for a little while and does whatever it is that he has decided to do,” Shanley says, laughing. “And then he just beams away to wherever he came from.”
Check back for the panel video.