Stephen Of The Crying Game 3 Letters
Stephen Of The Crying Game 3 Letters – ‘I waited a long time to hear praise from my mother’: Stephen Rea on growing up in Belfast and why he knew he wouldn’t win an Oscar for The Crying Game.
As he prepares to direct a new piece for the Abbey Theatre, legendary actor Stephen Rea talks to Dónal Lynch about why he knew he wouldn’t win an Oscar for his role in The Crying Game, waiting a lifetime to receive praise from his mother. , and why he thinks Taoiseach Micheál Martin wants to prevent a united Ireland
Stephen Of The Crying Game 3 Letters
It’s dead on lockdown night in Dublin and, as the camera pans through the quiet streets, Stephen Rea’s quiet is the soundtrack to all that’s lost. The lifestyle of a city disappears and the actor reads an extract from Samuel Beckett’s Malone Dies, where the narrator shows his own end. “I will soon die, finally, in spite of everything. Then it is April, or May, when the year is still young, a thousand little signs tell me. I think I am wrong … I will not allow myself to faint into transfiguration, but I don’t think so.”
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The reading features in the latest short film, Throes. This, director Neil Jordan informed Rea afterwards, their 12th film together. It was a collaborative journey that has taken some of the highlights of Irish cinematic history, including Michael Collins (1996), The Butcher Boy (1997) and Jordan’s dark and glittering masterpiece, The Crying Game (1992).
RTÉ recently rebroadcast the film, but Rea, now 74, has hardly seen it. “It’s been so long now that I haven’t felt like I’ve looked at myself.”
The film, with themes of trans-sexualism and IRA violence, had an unusual box-office gestation. It was almost ignored in Britain until Miramax released it in the US, where it became one of the biggest indie hits of the decade.
“The British didn’t want to see it because it was about an IRA man whose sensitivities were touched by a British soldier and a transvestite,” Rea said. “America likes it because it’s about sex.
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“When Neil Jordan said to me ‘and he’s a man’, that was the clincher for me – because that’s the last thing you expect. It was earth-shattering at the time. It was about the humanity of an IRA soldier, and many of them were motivated by humans”.
Hinting in the hidden depths of humanity, finding sympathy in the inherently unsympathetic, has always been Rea’s understated genius. Stephen Woolley, who produced The Crying Game, once said about the actor that he “typifies a quiet, introspective but potentially violent, potentially passionate, potentially angry personality hidden behind a hangdog mouth. There is a surface level of this chattiness and friendliness, and underneath that. is mass of mistakes and questions about religion, race, sex – subjects that Irish people are obsessed with”.
Rea also seems to embody another national question, that of identity and belonging. He was a rare thing, an Ulster Protestant with progressive ideals. Although he came from a unionist background in Belfast, he saw with great clarity the injustices of his childhood city.
“The poet Derek Mahon, who died recently, said he got out of Belfast as soon as he could because it was a bigoted dump, and I always think of Belfast as a dump,” I said. “It is run by inconsiderate and cruel people who think other parts of society are inferior to them.”
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He studied English literature at Queen’s University. “The atmosphere was sectarian at the time but that is being changed by people like Eamonn McCann. Seamus Heaney was also there before me. They are the kind of people who are not impressed with the idea of being given a place at university. , they just think, ‘so what, we have to get a place that’s it anyway’. Eamonn thinks you should be allowed to go to university if you just walk up to the gate and say you want to go in.”
Rea trained at the Abbey Theater in Dublin, before progressing to the Royal Court in London, then the Old Vic and the National Theatre. In 1980, he and Brian Friel founded their own company, Field Day Theater Company, which traveled around Ireland and encouraged a new generation of Irish playwrights, during the hunger strikes and bombings. “I was not happy in my 20s. I was distraught. I just did not know who I was. Things were bad. I was not happy about the Troubles, although I felt that they were deserved in a way.”
He has been starring in films since Neil Jordan cast him in Angel (1982), but he became world famous after his performance in The Crying Game earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in 1993.
He said he knew he had no chance. “I knew Pacino was going to win [for Scent of a Woman]. He was the darling of the Academy at the time. Washington [for Malcolm X], but they weren’t ready to give a black actor the Best Actor Oscar at the time.
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“After the film came out, I was in New York, there was a Gay Pride march down Fifth Avenue towards Washington Square Park, and they saw me and they started chanting my name. I waved at them several times. It was surreal. and beautiful.”
The film changed his career. “I had a consistent career in America after that. People know who I am. But I don’t care if I’m in London earning £18 a week, I’d love to do it too. I turned down roles I thought. It’s just a normal role for someone a guy from Belfast who just recently played an IRA man. I’ve done a couple of movies that I thought were a mess.”
Assuredly this does not involve his work with Jordan. In the mid-90s, they scaled another peak with Michael Collins. The film, famously, took dramatic license with its portrayal of Bloody Sunday in 1920.
“It was quite fantastic, because it had tanks coming into Croke Park, which didn’t happen, but [Jordan] wanted to show the excess of the military involved.”
I Waited A Long Time To Hear A Compliment From My Mother’: Stephen Rea On Growing Up In Belfast And Why He Knew He Wouldn’t Win An Oscar For The Crying Game
Rea revisits Bloody Sunday as part of the Abbey’s 14 Voices from the Bloodied Field, which will commemorate those who lost their lives. He directed a monologue written by Thomas Kilroy, and performed by Laurence Kinlan, who gave voice to James Burke, a Terenure man who was caught in a crowd crush and died of shock a few days later.
“I have worked with Tom Kilroy several times, and did his first production brilliantly playing Double Cross, and he is a dear friend, so I immediately said I would do it,” says Rea. “I’m not sure what my role is because it’s a monologue and the actor really needs to learn.”
Bloody Sunday, he said, “part of the story of the War of Independence that goes back 400 years”.
For Rea, art and politics have always been connected. He is famously reluctant to discuss his late ex-wife Dolours Price, who was given a life sentence for her involvement in the IRA bomb at the Old Bailey in 1973. The blast injured 200 people, and left one dead from a heart attack. She was released after seven years on humanitarian grounds and, shortly after, married Rea.
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There was never any suggestion that his people would reject him because of his Protestant background, he says – “they like me”. They were married for 17 years. She died of a drug overdose in 2013. The reason she didn’t discuss him, she said, was out of respect for her sons, now in their 20s. “There are people who want to talk about their politics but I have two boys upstairs who have lost their mother and they have to come to terms with the fact that they don’t have a mother.”
Fatherhood is one of the great joys in his life, and something that has eased the pain of lockdown. “My children have been absolute angels at this time. Of course there are difficulties when growing up, like anyone, but they are very kind to me. During the pandemic, especially in the early part, we planted trees in the garden and we were together 24 hours a day. Night other people watched the new run of The Den, which they had watched when they were children. We sat and watched again together and laughed ourselves silly. It was such a pleasure.”
His own parents both died, but his mother lived to see his great success. “He would never give me a compliment,” he told me. “Except one time we were sitting drinking at his house and he looked at me and said, ‘that boy has been good.