At Cannes, Barry Keoghan jokes about doing a musical after ‘Bird’

By Thomson Reuters May 17, 2024 | 2:08 PM

By Hanna Rantala and Miranda Murray

CANNES (Reuters) – Does Barry Keoghan have a musical in his future? After dance scenes in two recent films, including director Andrea Arnold’s fresh new Cannes Film Festival entry “Bird,” the Irish actor joked that he is on the lookout.

“Yeah, I’m looking for a musical, by the way, if there’s any out there,” Keoghan told Reuters.

“Bird” stars newcomer Nykiya Adams as 12-year-old Bailey, who is living with her young and checked-out father Bug (Keoghan) in a crumbling squat in Kent, in southeast England.

To make easy money, Bug imports a toad that sweats hallucinogenic slime, but only if it is relaxed by music.

In a wink at Keoghan’s infamous nude dance scene in last year’s black comedy “Saltburn,” Bug’s least favourite song to play for the toad is none other than “Murder On The Dance Floor.”

Keoghan said his boxing background was integral to his dance abilities: “I do a lot of boxing, I grew up doing a lot of boxing and so, you know, moving the hips and letting the body kind of be free and loose, and it’s sort of in my nature.”

The film, Arnold’s fourth entry in competition for the festival’s top prize after 2005’s “Red Road,” “Fish Tank” in 2009 and “American Honey” in 2016, was one of the most challenging for her to make.

“It was interesting, I had to let go on a big level,” the British director said during a news conference on Friday.

“I was open to sort of doing things differently because it (the film) was telling me things that needed me to work in a different way,” Arnold said, without going into detail.

Franz Rogowski, who plays the titular Bird, a strange, free-spirited man who shows up and eventually befriends Bailey, said Arnold’s script-free directing style was a new experience.

“You’re very vulnerable and exposed. But you trust her process, and therefore you become family,” Rogowski said.

Keoghan, who could draw on his experience growing up in Dublin’s downtrodden Summerhill district for the role, found that he and his character did diverge on one aspect in particular: all of Bug’s tattoos.

“I’ve got ADHD, so sitting still … I’m like really trying to stay still” during the make-up process, said Keoghan.

He added: “I kind of considered getting a tattoo after it. Not like a scorpion or anything like that, just more like a little question mark or something.”

(Reporting by Hanna Rantala; writing by Miranda Murray; editing by Jonathan Oatis)