We talk to Andie McCaffrey Byrne about the Irish indie movie making waves at festivals
A Day Like Today debuted at the Cork Indie Festival to great reviews, made on a budget of 450 euro the film has catupulted the careers of director Gerard Walsh and actress Andie McCaffrey Byrne. We caught up with Andie to discuss the success of the film.
Where did the acting bug come from?
Well I was one of those Tap Dancing Annie in the school play aged 9 type of kids. I realised whilst shooting a short in May that the location the Old John Player factory that I’d been actually on that stage when I was 5. That was a really kind of nice feeling to be in there. Coupled with the realisation that it’s always been there the bug. I could actually remember the smell of the place before going on stage as a kid how weird is that. Or maybe it was damp the smell of damp, beautiful that’ll take you back to the eighties alright.
Would you feel part of the Irish film industry, or would you rather be an international player, just like that McDonagh lad…?
Ireland has so many great things happening Love/Hate for one which I popped up in (plug shamesless plug)which was just amazing to be a part of. I don’t focus too much on an industry as such I’m just looking for the next story the next character that grabs me and won’t let go. Having said that there is not always enough work here to keep you going all year round. I’m great with accents and could do almost any which has opened more doors for me and I’ve been to London and back quite a few times now for auditions and some pretty great meetings. That’s feels like the next step so I’ll be heading back over soon with my cockney accent award under my arm and me Irish charm.
It’s a busy time for you right now, with both A Day Like Today and Saol just out… are you excited and delighted, or is it just another day at the office?
Oh excited and delighted of course for both films. Don’t mention the word office though you’ll give me flashbacks of sitting at a desk all day years ago which was torturous, I’m quite hyper so I probably resembled a bluebottle in a jar!! But the Cork Premiere I do feel for A Day Like Today is a little bit special though. Especially with the subject matter It took me a while (and a lot of red nail polish) to shake off the character of Alice afterwards. She would be the total opposite of me in almost everyway and to have to be that vulnerable within the character I knew would prove to be challenging which was exciting for me.
A Day Like Today has a lot of fun with the two-hander set-up – those long takes are like music, and you have to be in tune with your fellow actor, Paul Butler Lennox, throughout. A joy, I presume…?
Oh a joy is right we sang and danced between takes, actually we may have there was a lot of Cockney accent competitions. I won by the way. Paul and I had actually only met once before I auditioned so we didn’t know one another at all. Once I was cast Ger wanted to have a weeks rehearsal which I was a little apprehensive about I like to work fresh and in the moment. This must be some sort of hangover from my comedy improv days. But we did hit it off straight away we’re both from similar backgrounds and the slagging was flying which helped. No better way to get to know somebody then slag the life out of them. Ultimately there was a lot of trust there between us. Paul is an experienced actor and is not afraid to improvise which was great for me and we both had very similar approaches in the way we work which was great. Do I speak to him now…not a chance!!
“It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey” – believe in the Hawkins credo?
Depends where you are going and who you are with in my experience.
How did you come to A Day Like Today? The traditional audition route?
I was invited by Paul to audition by email. I was actually shooting a feature film around the corner so I nearly didn’t go I was working with a stunt guy all day learning how to fall and had been flung around like a rag doll do you know how hard it is to fall??!!. But I clicked with Ger straight away you know that feeling like you know somebody thing. So we improvised some scenes myself and Paul and chatted about the script and the character for a long while and so I must have done something right as he rang me the next day to offer me the part!!
It’s a first-time feature for Gerard Walsh, after last year’s short, Is This It? – complete trust, or do you have to look after no.1 first and foremost?
I had seen Ger’s other short Bound and I just loved everything abut it the way it was just shot so beautifully the dialogue I just knew I could work with him. On Day 1 we shot from 5 am till I think 8pm and we pushed for an 11am start the next day instead of 8am. So we may have took advanrage a little. I think next time he’ll be like NO! But I feel complete trust is imperative once you’re on the same page Ger is very open to actors suggestions and it felt very collaborative in that way. I believe he has a really distinctive style and voice in the kind of stories he wants to tell and he knows exactly what he wants in a scene. Just don’t trust him to give you directions to like anywhere!!
You changed your name from Andrea McCaffrey to Andie McCaffrey Byrne – clashing with another Andrea, or just prefer the sound of your new moniker?
Well I got married so Byrne is my married name and my acting teacher Vinny Murphy started calling me Andie way back when so I did a couple of films and in the credits I was Andie so I suppose it just stuck. I was too greedy to give up the maiden name so there I am all double barrell.
Can you tell us a little bit about Saol, in which you play, handily enough, a woman called Andie who, according to imdb. Is ‘trapped in her own life’…?
I actually play the social worker attempting to help Chelsea the lead character who is trapped in her own life. Saol was shot in 14 hours and was fully improvised with no script. As you can imagine it was intense two takes no more and my scene I recently discovered is the longest in the film at 7 mins. I might have to slap people in the cinema if they doze off.This was a really great mad intense way to work Paco Torres the director knew what he wanted and we had one rehearsal which was amazing Paco is Spanish and is so passionate about film it was infectious. I did use my three words of Spanish constantly around him Ola….Adious….you get the picture.
And let’s not forget about Jack And Ralph Plan A Murder, another 2014 release from Andi e McCaffrey Byrne – do you know where and when Jeff Doyle’s latest is going to be unleashed?
Jack and Ralph was the most insane shoot I have ever been on I was cast as Paula a girl who worked in a pharmacy which was replaced by the words see you in Sexual Paradise at 10.30 tonight the morning of the shoot by the director Jeff Doyle. What?Oh yaeh did I not tell you that. So we shot the scene in a sex shop and I was upgraded to goth which was great as I look totally different and it was hilarious being on that set.