Brendan O'Carroll reveals he felt 'very privileged' to be part of Roddy Doyle's The Van - Mrs Brown's Boys

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Monday, May 31, 2021

Brendan O'Carroll reveals he felt 'very privileged' to be part of Roddy Doyle's The Van

 You were kind of going, 'Stephen Frears, Colm Meaney. Holy Jaysus, it's great to be part of this'


Comic Brendan couldn’t believe he was appearing in a movie directed by Stephen Frears.



Brendan O'Carroll has revealed he was terrified walking on the set of The Van for his first-ever movie role.

The comedian played the role of a wideboy salesman who sells Bimbo and his pal Larry their mobile chipper in the film helmed by Dangerous Liaisons director Stephen Frears.

In 1995, when the film was shot, the Dubliner was a household name as a comedian, but he had never acted in a film.


Brendan’s character sold the van to Larry (Colm Meaney) and Bimbo (Donal O’Kelly) in the movie.



In RTÉ's new series looking back over the Barrytown trilogy, he remembers Roddy Doyle used his Dublin humour to put him at ease on his first day on set - and told him his character was a 'thug', then added, 'just be yourself, Brendan.'

"Roddy exposed us to ourselves, he very much did that. He did that in all his writing, you kind of went, 'that is us…'

Stephen Frears remembers being blown away by the Mrs Brown's Boys star in the mid-Nineties.

"I remember just reading about this man filling theatres and stadia in Ireland, this hugely popular comedian. He was just astonishing. I can remember meeting him, and he talked a lot about Roy Keane."

The admiration was mutual as O'Carroll says in the RTÉ documentary that he felt "very privileged" to be part of the movie which centred around two unemployed Dublin pals setting up a burger van in the fictional Dublin suburb of Barrytown.


Brendan O’Carroll, Donal O’Kelly and Colm Meany in The Van


"Stephen Frears had just come off My Beautiful Laundrette and was an award-winning director and was kind of the hot thing at the time. You were kind of going, 'Stephen Frears, Colm Meaney. Holy Jaysus, this is great to be part of this. And it really was.


"There's not a day that I didn't wake up in the morning, 'Oh Thank God I'm doing his movie'. It was a great experience."

In Back to Barrytown, Colm Meaney who names The Van as his personal favorite of the trilogy, tells the comedian he felt audiences were more lukewarm about The Van than the Snapper or The Commitments which had a more emphatic feelgood factor.

The comedian agreed that The Van was more steeped in realism.

"The Commitments had a pace about it where The Van rather was a genuine tale of two fellas who were trying to get out of where they were, life wasn't good for them," said Brendan.

"It was never going to have a happy ending, it was never going to have a Hollywood ending. But it very much had a Portmarnock ending."

But he said it holds a special place in his heart.

"I fell in love with Roddy, obviously, and I fell in love with that movie."

In the documentary, Colm Meaney observes that he shared an understanding of Roddy Doyle's uniquely Dublin material with Brendan O'Carroll.

"We're both northsiders, and we both from working-class backgrounds, but I knew those pubs, I knew some of those characters,

"But certainly I think for people who weren't familiar with that world, I think it helped them understand the value and the validity of that world, that these people, these were genuine people who were a story in themselves."



Brendan’s character sold the van to Larry (Colm Meaney) and Bimbo (Donal O’Kelly) in the movie that was set during the World Cup


The actor is amazed that the nation is still talking about the films three decades after they were shot in the capital.

"Thirty years after the world was first introduced to Sharon Curley, Jimmy Rabbitte, Georgie Burgess, Larry and Bimbo, the films still have a special place in people's hearts.

"Not only do they make us laugh out loud, but they also put a lens on issues rarely spoken about. Lines from the films are still alive and quoted on the streets.

"TV channel hoppers stop on any of the Barrytown films. For that, I hope Roddy is proud, for the part I played in them, I certainly am."

Back to Barrytown: The Van will be shown tonight at 9.30pm.





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