Interview with Simon Delaney for DELIVERY MAN

We chat with the Irish actor about his latest film…

Irish funny man Simon Delaney has had a thrilling few years recently, from appearing in ALAN PARTRIDGE: ALPHA PAPA and working with Paolo Sorrentino on THIS MUST BE THE PLACE on the big screen, to appearing in TOUCH, THE GOOD WIFE and MOONE BOY on the smaller screen. We caught up with Simon to find out more about his latest film, DELIVERY MAN – in which he co-stars with Vince Vaughn and our own rising star Jack Reynor – and whether all of this success means he’ll depart our shores for good.

What drew you to DELIVERY MAN?
Simon Delaney: I loved the script. I was in New York at the time, doing another movie and I went to the audition when I was there, and I thought ‘I like this character, he’s ballsy, he’s the responsible one, he’s the big brother’. It was something different to what I normally do, but I loved the script. I then made myself aware of the original; I watched STARBUCK, which I loved. I loved the fact that they kept Ken Scott as writer/director; I thought that was going to be an interesting change for a remake. Then you look around, and you’ve got Vince Vaughn, you’ve got Bobby Moynihan from Saturday Nightt Live, Cobie Smulders, Chris Pratt and of course, our own Jack Reynor. I thought this was going to be a nice six weeks to spend on a film… And it was. It wasn’t work at all! [laughs]

You obviously beat a lot of US actors to the role, how did that feel?
SD: I dunno. Obviously going into the audition I knew the character was a third generation Polish-American, so he needed a very genuine Brooklyn kind of accent. I suppose all my years of watching THE SOPRANOS helped! Accents have always been a love of mine; I love playing around with voices and accents so to be able to introduce myself to the movie going public in America, in my first movie, as a genuine third generation Polish-American was great!

You mentioned you knew DELIVERY MAN was based on the French-Canadian film STARBUCK, but were you aware of STARBUCK before you heard about DELIVERY MAN?
SD: I wasn’t. I have seen some interviews with Ken [Scott, director] and he is asked why he thinks people would go and see it a second time, but I think a lot of people weren’t aware of STARBUCK, because it was a French-Canadian movie and it did it’s rounds on the festival circuit so it never reached a particularly wide audience, but it obviously reached someone at DreamWorks because they fell in love with it. It’s a gorgeous story, such a charming story. I loved the original and I think that Ken has been very faithful to it with the remake.

What was it like to work with Ken Scott, bearing in mind that he directed STARBUCK and was remaking his own film with DELIVERY MAN?
SD: It felt right that it was in his hands, when we were on set, and his relationship with Vince was very strong, to the point now where they have gone on to do another movie together, since DELIVERY MAN. That seeped its way down through the rest of the cast as well; we knew it was in the storyteller’s hands, he’d written these words and he’d shot the original. We all felt as if we were in safe hands with Ken.

The film is slightly over the top, but it is also the story of family and finding where you belong in life. Do you think this was why the film lent itself to a US remake?
SD: I think so. If you take a slice of society – 533 people – you are going to have various different people and people dealing with different problems in terms of mental illness, physical illness, drugs issues, relationship problems… The fact that all of that is lumbered on to the shoulders of one man makes it incredible [laughs] but I think that must have been what attracted Vince to this. I think audiences will be surprised when they go to see Vince in this, because it’s not his stereotypical fast talking, quick mouthed playboy role, and I think it fits with him because he does that Every Man, Joe Soap very well.

You mentioned Bobby Moynihan from Saturday Night Live, who also plays your brother in the film. The chemistry between the three brothers is really lovely, how did you go about creating that?
SD: It just happened. We were there for a week before we started shooting, we had a week of pre-production and rehearsal, so I met Bobby and Vince on the first day, which involved a read through. We just literally hit it off straight away, particularly myself and Bobby; to the point where three weeks into the shoot, Bobby’s better half was on set and she spent time with the two of us and she said ‘Are you guys sure your parents didn’t meet in the 70s? You guys could be brothers!’ That was great! We do look alike, but we just had similar taste. I was a fan of Bobby’s through SNL anyway, and I was excited about working with him and it was so great to be filming in New York. Bobby brought me to a recording of SNL, we went backstage and he showed me to the set. We really hit it off, right from day one. We got that real close bond, including Andrzej [Blumenfeld], who played our father, the four of us really enjoyed each other’s company, but we also got across the idiosyncrasies of family life. I think that really comes across in the movie, but it was no fluke, because we got on that well off set as well.

Was it daunting to work with such a powerful comedy name as Vince Vaughn?
SD: It kind of frightened the life out of you, to be honest [laughs] It was like, last year I did ALPHA PAPA and you are getting a chance to work with your comic heroes and, as anybody would be, I was nervous on the first day, meeting Vince, but he put me at ease right away. We had a lot of opportunities to break the ice in that pre-production week, Vince was amused by the fact that they were trying to get an Irish guy to play basketball [laughs] and I lived up to the reputation of us not being world renowned for producing basketball players! [laughs] The ice was broken very early, before we started shooting, but I did catch myself sitting there on set going ‘Jesus Christ, that’s Vince Vaughn!’, but you had to get on with it and do your job. He was very generous on set in terms of improv, playing around with the dialogue, playing around with the dynamic of the characters; he was very helpful in terms of that. He was just an all-round good egg.

You also mentioned Jack Reynor who, at the time of shooting DELIVERY MAN, was not the huge star he is getting to be, and is certainly going to be…
SD: I had known Jack vaguely before we did this together. Coincidentally, I had just watched WHAT RICHARD DID on the flight over to New York. It was a great piece of work, I thought Jack was superb in the movie. He is just the nicest guy in the world. He must be utterly miserable; he’s such a good-looking bloke, he’s a nice fella, he’s got this huge movie career ahead of him… I don’t know how he sleeps at night! [laughs]

What do you hope audiences take from DELIVERY MAN?
SD: I think they’ll be touched by the movie. I think it’s a very sweet emotional rollercoaster of a movie. Chris Pratt, in particular, is very funny throughout the movie. I think it’s going to touch people, particularly people who are parents and are dealing with dealing with a new child coming into their lives – never mind 533 of them! I think it’s a very charming movie, I think Ken has been very loyal to the original script and the original movie. I think it’s very sweet, and very funny too.

Your career has really taken off recently, but it must have been quite a thrill to stand on the red steps at Cannes with Paolo Sorrentino, David Byrne and Sean Penn for the premiere of THIS MUST BE THE PLACE in 2011…
SD: The whole business is quite surreal. That night in particular at the Palais was just surreal, we had a police escorted motorcade down there, then I was standing on the red carpet with David Byrne, Paolo Sorrentino, Sean Penn, Judd Hirsch and Eve Hewson and I was just thinking ‘Jesus Christ!’ [laughs] I was selling photocopiers for a living! It’s fantastic, and again the whole thing last year, shooting with Vince Vaughn in New York was so surreal. I am blessed to be doing what I am doing, and I don’t forget that. That’s why I try and enjoy every moment I am on set, because it beats the hell out of digging holes in the road!

Between DELIVERY MAN, THIS MUST BE THE PLACE, TOUCH, THE GOOD WIFE and all the other things you are working on in the US, are you going to forget us at home?
SD: I couldn’t forget you! I can’t; I have the mortgage here! The American thing is a bonus at the moment. I am three and a half or four years into what I am calling my American Journey and it’s a long road. You have got to have your management team sorted out, your visa, your lawyer all sorted out before you can even think about doing auditions, but to be able to do a DreamWorks movie with Vince Vaughn as your first movie in the States is fantastic. I hope and pray that it continues for me; I am still auditioning for stuff over there. Comedy is what I am at home in and the US sets the bar when it comes to comedy and comedy production.

Finally, what’s next for you?
SD: At the moment, I am about to start filming a documentary for MTUV – my beloved Manchester United Television – called The Green Devils, which is a documentary looking into United’s Irish connections and players. I have a documentary coming out on TV3 next month called Tales of Irish Castles, then we have series two and three of MOONE BOY. There is a second series of THE FALL happening in the spring and then, hopefully, some more stuff at the other side of the pond.

I hope you got some sleep over Christmas, because it sounds like you have a busy year ahead…
SD: [laughs] Listen, with three kids under the age of seven, I got about nine hours in total!

DELIVERY MAN is released in Irish cinemas on January 10th 2014

Words: Brogen Hayes