Bridesmaids took in $24m at the American box office last weekend, making it producer Judd Apatow’s highest opening film since Step Brothers in 2008. On of the film’s stars, Irish actor Chris O’Dowd, celebrated with a very funny Conan appearance. After the jump, an interview I did with him in late 2008, at the outset of his film career.
Star of Channel 4’s The IT Crowd and matinee idol in waiting
First of all, congratulations on the success of The IT Crowd.
Thanks. I always suspected it would end up doing well. But I’m really happy that it has taken off as it has in the last year and a half. The second series has been really well received and that’s great.
It’s a rather inane question, but have you ever actually worked in an office?
I worked in a charity call centre for around a year once. It was one of the most demoralising periods in my life. Also, my brother in law is an IT guy, so I was also able to draw on some of his – I don’t know – slightly morose nature and sense of humour. The rest of my character comes from Graham [Linehan, writer].
You’ve got three films coming out in quick succession in the New Year.
That’s right. The first is called The Boat That Rocked. It’s a Richard Curtis film about a pirate station called Radio Caroline, which operated off the coast of England in the late Sixties. There are great actors in it – Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Emma Thompson, Nick Frost. Some lovely performances.
No Hugh Grant? I take it you’re the romantic lead then.
(laughs) No, there’s no romantic lead. But I am the only character to get married in the film, for what that’s worth. I play Tony Blackburn, or a version of Tony Blackburn.
In Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel you play another geek. Any fear you’re becoming typecast there?
To be honest, I imagine the decision to give me that part came from someone just turning on The IT Crowd, pointing at me and saying “That guy’s pretty geeky. Lets get him!” I’m not even kidding. I think that was probably the thought process. But that’s fine. I get to make out with [Scary Movie actress] Anna Faris, so that’s okay!
Finally, there’s a film about the Oz trial.
That’s right. It’s called Hippie Hippie Shake. Myself, Cillian Murphy and Sienna Miller play the editors of Oz magazine in the late Sixties. I play Felix Dennis. There are lots of street protests, beards and long hair. We all end up going to prison.
If I were to write a script about a time travelling geek in the Swinging Sixties, would it be safe to assume you’d accept the role?
Possibly… (laughs) But come on, you could do that with any actor if you to compare all his roles. Couldn’t you?
Do you get a chance to visit home often?
Not as often as I’d like. Usually religious occasions: weddings, christenings, funerals, Christmas. What I love about Boyle is that people are very happy for you that things are going well, but at the same time they don’t treat you differently. It’s just “How you doing Chris? Things going great for you, good man.” They’re very positive.
Six months from now you could be a bona fide movie star or a flop. Does either prospect frighten you?
There is a small part of me that thinks about that, because the three films are coming out in such quick succession in March, April and May. I’ll also have that TV show on at the same time. So it could all go down the pan very, very quickly. But I try not to think about that.
Assuming it all goes well, and I’m sure it will, would that make you the first ever film star from Boyle?
Amazingly, no. Mia Farrow’s mother Maureen O’Sulivan grew up just three doors down from me. She was Jane in the early Tarzan films.
Wow, perhaps we could work that tenuous connection into a snappy headline of some description.
Oh, please do. Make it something like “O’Dowd swings into the future!” Or on second thoughts, that might make it sound as though I visit sex clubs… Please don’t use that!
Irish Times – January 3 2009