We talk to the leader of The Hardy Bucks; Martin Maloney
‘The Hardy Bucks’ is a phenomena that began life on YouTube, before reaching prime time on RTÉ. With a massive fan base, the next inevitable step was Hollywood and this month see’s Universal Pictures releasing The Hardy Bucks Movie which takes the boys out of Ireland on a roadtrip across Europe to support the Boys in Green at the Euros in Poznan. Brogen Hayes caught up with Martin Maloney, co-creator and star of The Hardy Bucks, to talk inspiration, improvisation and why he is glad he didn’t get a part in Game of Thrones…
For the uninitiated, where did The Hardy Bucks come from? MM: The Hardy Bucks started on the internet, on YouTube, back in 2007. We started gathering awareness in 2008 and in 2009 we entered Storyland, a competition through RTÉ drama. I don’t know how many contestants we were up against, but we managed to win that, and we were up against some very good competition. Then RTÉ said to us that they would like to give us a mini series on RTÉ Two, so we did three episodes on that, did a Christmas Special then did a six part series on RTÉ Two, and now we have done a movie.
Did the format of the show change as it went through its various incarnations? MM: I suppose it did really, because we had to get more staff to help with the different roles. It would have been way too much for us to take on, so my brother-in-law, Mike [Cockayne] who came in and out of the early stages, has come on as writer/director/producer/editor. It’s kind of like his baby now, and we said ‘You can take care of the hard work, and we’ll just have a laugh and mess around’.
You say you mess around, but there are touches of other movies and TV shows in The Hardy Bucks, who inspired you initially? MM: Initially, definitely Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthews for Father Ted, Ricky Gervais, Steve Coogan, The Eleven O’Clock Show, Armando Iannucci. I like Barry Murphy as well, he’s very good, and the lads from Aprés Match. A lot of stuff from BBC 2… Chris Morris was definitely one of my biggest influences. I actually met him on the street there in London last year; just before a failed Game of Thrones audition in Soho. Meeting him kind of took the edge off that…
Did you tell him that he had inspired you? MM: I did yeah, and I thanked him and said ‘What I do, is largely down to the likes of you. Have you ever heard of The Hardy Bucks?’ and he said ‘Oh Hardy Bucks, Charlie Brooker mentioned that to me once or twice’. So to hear Charlie Brooker had heard of us as well…
Did you ever think The Hardy Bucks would be so popular? MM: When we first started I actually thought to myself ‘If you don’t find it funny, you are probably a dry bastard!’ [laughs] That was what I said to the others. I suppose it’s not for everyone, but if you give it time and get into it, somewhere along the line you will find funny. In the early days it relied on so much improvisation and looking into real life so much, and the characters were so genuine and believable that people could have more of a link to it.
Where did the story for the movie come from? MM: Mike and I were sitting around, and I had been mad to do a road trip episode; I find something really cosy about road trip movies. I really wanted to do a Hardy Bucks movie because it’s quite hard to get inspired when you are filming in Mayo all the time; there’s no new characters coming into it. I thought it would be nice to go on the road, use new actors to kind of pout up against ourselves and test our own staying power against them. It really worked out well because we were working with Dutch actors, German actors, Polish actors and it was cool to work with so many different people. The Euros also was on last year, so we thought that maybe the reason [The Hardy Bucks] were heading out was to go and see the football, but because the budget was so small, there was so much that we couldn’t really do. There were a lot of characters that we couldn’t bring out, so we had to make do with something that was in the realms of reality, so we decided to have it in a motor home. That was it really! We brainstormed it and Mike wrote it because at the time we had a lot of other things coming up, projects with The Hardy Bucks, that we couldn’t commit to all of them at once, but once the initial story was put together then we put the comedy over it. It’s a lot different than the series; it’s not like a documentary any more, it’s actually like a full movie because we thought if we were going to have a go at doing a movie, we may as well do an actual movie. Sometimes if you are doing a transfer from TV to movie, fans might find it a strange jump, but after a while of watching it I don’t think anyone will care any more.
You mentioned that the early stuff was heavily improvised, was there much improvisation in the movie? MM: We have the script and we do the script beforehand, but after you’ve nailed the script, we call it ‘The Bowl of Trifle’; the improvisation is like your pudding at the end of a meal, where you get to have free reign at the end of the scene. That’s where you will try to throw whatever you can, no matter how crazy it is, into a scene. There is a lot of improvisation into the film. There’s a mix in the film; it’s about 50/50.
Did you actually drive to all the way to Poznan or did you cheat and fly from Amsterdam? MM: No, no we drove. We drove from Swinford in Mayo, in a Hi Ace van, to Amsterdam. I drove the camper van for a fair bit, and at the end of it I was just sick of driving. Then I had to drive all the way back to Mayo then from Amsterdam. [laughs]
How much of the film did you shoot on the fly? MM: Oh yeah! I’d be a great advocate of doing things on the fly anyway. There was a bit of on the sly done as well. I never realised how much restriction there is… If we were filming in a crowd we had to keep people in the background out of focus. That was a difficult thing to do. You had to be ready to park up, get out and do your scene. There is one scene where we were at the side of the road in Belgium and there were cars going past at 100 miles an hour, and I was thinking ‘Jesus, if a car hits the back of the van now we could all be killed’. Which would have meant no movie!
Seeing as you didn’t get the part in Game of Thrones, what’s next for you? MM: It was for the character Mero of Braavos, and I am kind of glad I didn’t get it because he is a real nasty s**t, and I don’t think my mother would have liked some of the stuff that was coming out of my mouth at the time. We are going to do a few shorts with Republic of Telly to give the public a bit of a flavour of our new TV show, we hope to turn it into a six part series. I was also thinking about doing a documentary about the history of the Everglades, so that is something I have been working on of late. I have always wanted to do something similar to what [David] Attenborough has done, believe it or not. I am a real nerd when it comes to wildlife.