Rising Irish actress Emma Eliza Regan is attending this year’s Cannes Film Festival and she’ll be blogging from the Croisette for RTÉ Ten. Alan Corr talks to her about the movie she’s taking down to the Riviera and why right now is the most exciting time ever for the Irish film industry
“There are two very different sides to Cannes,” says Emma Eliza Regan. “I’m going there to watch movies but if you want to be in the glamour side of it, fire away but I’m genuinely there for the filmmakers and people similar to myself. I think you need a huge bullshit detector at Cannes.”
She speaks from experience. This is not 23-year-old’s first time at the world's most prestigious film fest. The Connemara-born actress was down at the Côte d'Azur last year with the latest Jack Taylor movie but this year’s trip is a deal more important than that. She stars in and is co-producer with her boyfriend, Randall Plunkett, of the short film Out There, which has been given a prestigious Cannes selection.
It is a zombie flick set in Ireland which owes a little to 28 Weeks Later. “It’s a mysterious drama horror about a man who wakes up in a forest and it’s very quiet and the film, though flashbacks, tells us how he got there. So at the start of the movie you already know the outcome but you don’t know how it happened so it’s intriguing to see how it comes about.”
It’s another sign that Irish filmmakers are getting to tell their own stories and not having them told through shamrock-tinted glasses by foreign directors and writers. It’s high time to seize back control from abominations like PS I Love You and this year, Cannes has a very strong Irish presence.
The festival takes place from May 15th to May 26th and The President of the Jury will be one Steven Spielberg. It’s going to be an interesting ten days for Regan. She has built up her profile as an actress, writer and producer with a steady stream of short films and TV roles including parts in last year’s much-admired Death of a Superhero and TG4’s excellent 1916 Seachtar na Cásca series.
She made her acting debut aged 17 in Ivan Kavanagh’s horror movie Tin Can Man and numerous stage and film roles followed including Mollser in an Abbey Theatre production of The Plough and The Stars, and a part in RTE drama Aisling’s Summer Diary.
Regan could well be a name to watch for in what is an exciting time for the Irish film industry. With the freak exception of recent no-budget release Pilgrim Hill and the massive success of What Richard Did, box office takings for home-produced films have remained significantly lower than international releases, but creatively, the industry is growing stronger and stronger.
“I think right now it’s at the most exciting place we’ve ever been. Even in the last year there has been just a huge energy in Irish film making, it’s unbelievable,” Regan says. “The success of Pilgrim Hill at the box office and What Richard Did has also been very successful internationally and at home. The Guard did extremely well at the box office so suddenly we’re making movies that Irish people are more interested in watching. There’s a whole new generation of film makers.
Out There isn’t the first Irish zombie movie but let’s face it, it’s bound to be better than Boy Eats Girl. It's another healthy sign that Irish directors can do genre films and not just Jim Sheridan-style family dramas. “There’s no reason why we can’t have an amazing Irish fantasy film or an amazing Irish sci-fi or horror,” Regan says. “We can tackle anything we want.”
In fact, Regan’s next movie is a revenge western called Darkness on The Edge of Town which is being shot in Kerry this summer by writter and director Patrick Ryan who is juggling with a tiny budget of 50,000. She plays Cleo Callahan “a troubled teenage sharpshooter” who decides to avenge the death of her estranged sister after she is found murdered in a public bathroom.
However, the project that has attracted most attention to Regan of late is Second Coming, a new film loosely based on the doomed affair between WB Yeats and Maude Gonne in which she stars opposite Pete Doherty, The Babyshambles singer who is now trying to break into acting.
Regan has also worked and trained with Jack Reynor but now that he's been cast in the new Transformers movie, she doesn't see him much these days. “Never no! Hahahaha," she laughs. "I used to see Jack all the time and I’ve always thought he was extremely dedicated and ambitious and talented.
"He’s exactly as you see him on the screen. He works so hard and always did. Jack and I began together and it’s just brilliant to see him doing so well. I think he deserves it. A lot of my contemporaries are doing amazing and it just inspires me.”
Emma will be keeping a Cannes Diary for RTÉ Ten with updates on the Irish contingent, behind the scenes news, the fashion, and the Irish screenings. Click back on RTE Ten to read Emma’s Cannes Blog.