BARRY KEOGHAN. Incarnation of anxiety
I try to avoid valuing someone’s appearance, especially when it comes to the subjects of my texts. First: it’s petty; actresses and actors should first of all have skills and be held accountable for them. Second: de gustibus non est disputandum, so my assessment of someone’s appearance does not necessarily coincide with the feelings of others. However, when it comes to a young man with such a characteristic physique, it is hard not to mention his appearance. It seems that the film world is open to BARRY KEOGHAN.
A restless spirit
Born on October 18, 1992 in Dublin, Barry Keoghan first stood in front of the camera at the age of eighteen, but he only came into the industry for good five years ago – and immediately in two projects. He first scored top marks at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, where Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Killing of a Sacred Deer won the screenplay award in the main competition. Keoghan, then 25 years old, brilliantly played the terrifying teenager Martin, who incomprehensibly begins to influence the life of the family of a respected surgeon (Colin Farrell). In the same year, less than two months later, Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk had its world premiere, in which Barry played a small but extremely dramatic and touching role. And so began the brilliant career of a boy from Summerhill in Dublin, who together with his brother had over a dozen foster homes.
When you watch video interviews with Barry Keoghan, you immediately notice that he is actually very similar to many of the characters he has played. Eternally active, a bit nervous, involving the whole body in every gesture and every utterance – like one of those restless island kids, gathering in groups and roaming the streets of England or Ireland in search of trouble. Added to this is the aforementioned appearance – a face that actually looks very young, allowing him to play characters 10 years younger, with tightly closed, as if swollen eyes; Keoghan is definitely not prom king. Unusual appearance, however, allowed him to be firmly established in the minds of viewers who, even if they do not know his name yet, undoubtedly remember his characteristic face and outstanding acting skills.
Acting in front of the camera was certainly not the biggest dream of the young Keoghan, but because of the positive memories of performing in school plays, Barry decided to audition for Mark O’Connor’s small Irish production Between the Canals. And although he had never read a single book in his life (as he admitted during one of the interviews on the occasion of Dunkirk), and he was about to start learning acting, Keoghan caught the bug and soon acted more and more often. In 2013, he made a guest appearance in several episodes of the acclaimed Irish crime series Love/Hate, and his first major title was ’71 (2014) by Yann Demange. After appearing in the aforementioned works of Nolan and Lanthimos, Keoghan became an in-demand character actor. In 2018, he co-starred in Bart Layton’s Beasts of America and also starred in Lance Daly’s Black 47, a dark historical drama about famine in Ireland in the 19th century.
Since then, almost every year we see Barry Keoghan in at least one big and important title – in 2019 he appeared in a small role in Chernobyl, two years later he played in David Lowery’s The Green Knight and made his debut in the MCU as Druig in Eternals by Chloé Zhao, over the past twelve months, starred in Martin McDonagh’s Banshees of Inisherin (which brought him his first Oscar nomination) and probably the most famous cameo of the last year in Matt Reeves’ The Batman, where he played the iconic character of the Joker. This means that in just a few months (Eternals is November 2021, The Batman – March 2022) he appeared in the film universes of both Marvel and DC, which only a few managed to do, and certainly not in such a short time. He will soon be seen in Emerald Fennell’s second feature film, Saltburn, and alongside Austin Butler (Elvis) in the Apple TV+ series Masters of the Air.
Barry Keoghan undoubtedly one of the most interesting actors of the young generation, who has the potential to surprise us all more than once with his screen incarnations. With his work, he proves that you don’t need to have the appearance of a classic lover to achieve acting successes and create creations that the viewers will remember for a long time.