Chris O'Dowd on 'The Sapphires,' making it in America and why he's no Ken doll
I can think of no more perfect visual metaphor for Chris O'Dowd's booming career these days than his own appearance at last year's Cannes Film Festival: walking the red carpet for the midnight premiere of Australian musical comedy “The Sapphires,” the 6'3'' Irish comedian looked every inch the Hollywood star in a sleekly tailored tux, his unruly mop even combed tidily into place, conforming to the code of an A-list world in which, only a few years ago, he would have been a distinct outsider. Well, almost conforming. Keen-eyed sartorialists would have spotted a flash of yellow just above his polished dress shoes: a dashing pair of bumblebee-striped socks.
O'Dowd's funky choice of hosiery seems indicative of a career in which his unlikely ascent to the top has come very much on his own terms. From modest beginnings in Irish television to his breakout role in popular UK sitcom “The I.T. Crowd” to his star-making big-screen turn as Kristen Wiig's love interest in “Bridesmaids” and beyond, the personable, handsome-but-not-Hollywood-handsome actor has attained crossover success with compromising his image, his persona or even his endearing Irish brogue.
Since “Bridesmaids,” his US profile has steadily risen, with supporting roles last year in “This is 40” and “Friends With Kids,” as well as a multi-episode run in red-hot HBO comedy “Girls.” This year, meanwhile, is building on that still further: in May, we'll see him as the lead in another buzzy HBO show, Christopher Guest's mock-doc “Family Tree,” while his appearance in superhero sequel “Thor: The Dark World” has only just been announced.
Tomorrow, meanwhile, US viewers will get to see his first big-screen lead role in the aforementioned “The Sapphires,” the loosely fact-based story of a female Aboriginal soul quartet who found fleeting stardom entertaining Vietnam troops in the 1960s. Despite the title, it's O'Dowd, playing their passionate but alcoholic manager Dave, who's the star of the show: it's a forceful comic turn that gives this sweet, sometimes over-sweet, crowdpleaser its true, well, soul. An awards campaign – remember this is a Weinstein Company property – would not be out of order for a performance that reveals his gifts in a project we wouldn't necessarily expect him to headline.
“It was a bit of a surprise to me too!” he exclaims over the phone from New York – “The city of apples,” he quips dryly – where he's publicizing the film. “It was just one of those things: the week after 'Bridesmaids' came out, I was sent a few scripts and, to be honest, a lot of them were just typical rom-com fare, without the style or quality of a 'Bridesmaids.' So I made the decision to go off and do something quite different, maybe get out the country for a bit. And just then I read 'The Sapphires' and it jumped out at me – I felt I hadn't seen that world before, and I love that era of music. And the script was funny, which is rarer than you might imagine.”
Funny as the script was, it still required some tailoring for its quirky leading man: the character as written was Australian, for starters. Luckily, director Wayne Blair and writer Tony Briggs – who penned the stage production on which the film is based – were flexible. “We did make a few changes, to make Dave a bit rougher around the edges: we made him Irish, we gave him a bit of a drinking problem” – he offers an apologetic pause at the cultural stereotyping – “so we gave him something to fight against. I like the ambition of Dave, the way he believes that he can change the world even when he's staring defeat in the face and living in his car. I relate to that.”
2013 | Thriller | RSummary: Based on the true story of Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) a Miami bodybuilder who wants to live the American dream. He would like to have the money that other people have. So he enlists the help of fellow bodybuilder Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and ex-convict, Christian bodybuilder Paul Doyle (D...Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by. It has deep soul, a wicked sense of humor, and Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Pam Grier, and Robert Forster.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
1996 | Crime | RSummary: Jerry, a small-town Minnesota car salesman is bursting at the seams with debt... but he's got a plan. He's going to hire two thugs to kidnap his wife in a scheme to collect a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. It's going to be a snap and nobody's going to get hurt... until people start ...Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
2007 | Comedy | PGSummary: Newlyweds Nick (Ice Cube) and Suzanne (Long) decide to move to the suburbs to provide a better life for their two kids. But their idea of a dream home is disturbed by a contractor (McGinley) with a bizarre approach to business.Director: Steve Carr
Cast: John C. McGinley, Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen
Let Streaming Genie help you.