He played supporting roles and became a star, playing a strange guy in Saltburn. How Barry Keoghan became Hollywood's new favorite

Juliette Morgan
He played supporting roles and became a star, playing a strange guy in Saltburn. How Barry Keoghan became Hollywood's new favorite

Actor Barry Keoghan, who had recently appeared in projects in supporting roles, suddenly became one of the main idols of the public after the release of the film Saltburn. A guy with a rather unremarkable at first glance, but at the same time non-standard appearance, turned out to have incredible charisma. And after the release of the film "Saltburn" he is discussed almost more than the handsome Jacob Elordi. Today, the 31-year-old actor is being compared to film industry legends such as Willem Dafoe and is tipped for a brilliant career. Let's figure out who he is and what his phenomenon is.

Difficult childhood

Keoghan had a difficult childhood. He was born in a disadvantaged area of ​​Dublin (Ireland), where most of the population used drugs. This fate did not spare the boys’ mother either. As Barry said, she was unlucky: she was caught by the police, and custody of the children was decided. Although they had a grandmother and two aunts, the relatives had to fight for a long time to take the boys: the family had no money. The boys did not know their father.

He and his brother Eric lived for several years in different foster families, which were constantly changing: as the actor recalls, they changed at least a dozen families. According to the actor, such a life was very difficult for a child: he became attached to people, but soon he had to leave them. At the same time, he noted that they were treated well. "Every family was kind, but as a child it is difficult to understand what is happening. You get attached, and then you have to move again.”

When their grandmother eventually took them in (and their aunt quit her job to look after them), they had to watch as the mother they both loved dearly was unable to visit them: because of her addiction, her grandmother would not allow her into the house. Barry's mother died at 31 due to drug addiction when he was 12 years old. Although the actor has difficult memories of his mother, he notes that he tried to preserve the best and warmest memories of her.

Барри Кеоган с матерью и братом
Барри Кеоган с матерью и братом/Фото: keoghan92/Instagram*

Despite this, he does not complain about life and believes that such a childhood strengthened him and taught him not to give up. This definitely helped him in his Hollywood career: by his own admission, people from areas like his very rarely achieve success, but he decided that it was worth a try.

How Barry Keoghan built a career and played supporting roles

Barry did not plan a Hollywood career, because he was fond of sports (especially, following the example of the guys from his area, boxing) and was sure that he would become an athlete. At the same time, he was very interested in acting in itself and cinema in general. As a child, Barry loved watching animal shows on TV and constantly thought about how animals could show so many feelings and emotions without saying a word.

Another source of inspiration was good cinema: trying to distract himself from heavy thoughts about the death of his mother, Barry constantly ran from school to the cinema and binge-watched films with Marlon Brando and Paul Newman, learning from there not only the basics of acting, but also communication skills.

Барри Кеоган
Барри Кеоган/Фото: Jason Nocito/GQ

At the age of 16, Barry received a cameo role in the low-budget film “Between the Channels,” which was about crime. He got the role after accidentally seeing an advertisement in a window, and earned only $120 for participating in the filming. But after that, he was able to enter the Bow Street Academy of Acting in Dublin, and his mentor was the famous Irish director Jim Sheridan, who was nominated for an Oscar six times. It’s interesting that he left the academy at the age of 19: Barry didn’t like that all the students there were taught the same way - he wanted to be different. Barry had his own heroes from the film industry: he even compiled a list of directors. Among them were Christopher Nolan and others, as well as Martin McDonagh, with whom his work would one day become the beginning of his success.

Барри Кеоган
Барри Кеоган/Фото: Jason Nocito/GQ

In 2011, he received a small role in the TV series “Love/Hate,” which he probably later regretted. The role turned out to be sharply negative: his hero shoots a cat with a machine gun (and you can’t touch cats). Keoghan recalled that after this they began to recognize him on the streets, but not at all in the way he would have liked: people reminded him of his character’s actions and became seriously angry.

For a long time, Barry Keoghan played supporting roles with varying success, mainly in films by Irish directors. One of the famous films with his participation is Adam Smith's film "The English Hustle" with Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson.

In 2017, at the personal invitation of Christopher Nolan, he starred in the film “Dunkirk”: albeit in a supporting role, but quite memorable.

In addition, the actor starred in such projects as the film "The Eternals" with Angelina Jolie, as well as in the HBO series "Chernobyl", which was released in 2019.

Барри Кеоган
Барри Кеоган в сериале "Чернобыль"/Фото: Кадр из сериала "Чернобыль"/HBO
Барри Кеоган в фильме
Барри Кеоган в фильме "Вечные"/Фото: Кадр из фильма "Вечные"/Marvel Studios
Барри Кеоган в фильме
Барри Кеоган в фильме "Вечные"/Фото: Кадр из фильма "Вечные"/Marvel Studios

He first gained fame after the release of the thriller "The Killing of a Sacred Deer" Yorgos Lanthimos.

Барри Кеоган в фильме
Барри Кеоган в фильме "Убийство священного оленя"/Фото: кадр из фильма"Убийство священного оленя"/Element Pictures

For this film he received the Irish Academy of Film and Television Award for Best Supporting Actor. In this film, he appears in the ambiguous role of the strange teenager Martin and draws all the attention to himself: yet Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell appeared on the same screen with him. It was the latter that helped him get the role that brought him a BAFTA award and an Oscar nomination, as well as collaborate with another director from his list: Martin McDonagh. When he invited him to star in "Banshee of Inisherin" in a supporting role, Keoghan agreed without even reading the script. In the film, he played a simple local guy with whom Farrell’s character communicates: however, this role turned out to be so bright and dramatic that the audience immediately remembered it. Unfortunately, the Oscar Barry never got it for it: he was beaten by the actor from the movie “Everything Everywhere at Once,” who was the winner of last year’s ceremony.

Барри Кеоган
Барри Кеоган/Фото: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

"Barry Keoghan, as the neighbor boy Dominic, literally "steals" every scene he's in. Cheerful and eccentric, with a touch of pathos behind the aura of silliness, he feels self-aware, and despite limited screen time, Keoghan’s character is bright and touching,” critics write about his work.

Колин Фаррелл и Барри Кеоган
Колин Фаррелл и Барри Кеоган /Фото: Кадр из фильма "Банши Инишерина"/Blueprint Pictures

The same Colin Farrell told him about the upcoming filming of "Batman" (Farrell himself played the Penguin in the film and even received a separate series about his character: we talked more about the most anticipated series of the year, including “Penguin,” here). Barry did not wait for an invitation and filmed his own video tests, taking as a basis the image of the main character of the film “A Clockwork Orange”: he applied for the role of the second antagonist of the series, nicknamed the Riddler, but did not receive it. But later he was invited to play the Joker. He appeared in just one scene, which did not make it into the film, but ended up on YouTube - and caused a lot of emotions among fans.

And this year Keoghan was nominated for the Golden Globe Award, which is called an “Oscar rehearsal.” (we're waiting for his nomination there too) in the category "Best Actor" for "Saltburn", but his opponent was too serious - Cillian Murphy took the award for "Oppenheimer".

"Saltburn" and a new wave of popularity

The film "Saltburn", a black comedy and psychological thriller directed by Emirald Fennell, starring Barry Keoghan, Jacob Elordi, Rosamund Pike, Richard E. Grant and others, became one of the most discussed events in the film industry.

The film takes place in England in the early 2000s. A modest and homely Oxford University student named Oliver (Keogan), who finds it difficult to fit into the largely upper-class community, becomes obsessed with his handsome and wealthy fellow student Felix (Elordi). After the death of Oliver's father, Felix invites him to spend the summer at the estate of his eccentric family, whose members Oliver wins over. Felix himself gets tired of Oliver and thinks about how to free himself, given that his household adore him. Suddenly it turns out that Oliver is a fraudster, and the sad story of his life is fictitious. It would seem that this should be the end of their friendship, but Felix suddenly dies, Oliver remains in Saltburn and actually takes the place of his friend. Oliver's story has been compared online to Mr. Ripley's, noting the hero's unhealthy desire to live someone else's life that seems more attractive than his own.

Джейкоб Элорди и Барри Кеоган
Джейкоб Элорди и Барри Кеоган/Фото: Кадр из фильма "Солтберн"/Amazon Prime Video
Барри Кеоган
Барри Кеоган/Фото: Кадр из фильма "Солтберн"/Amazon Prime Video

The strange and eccentric character of Barry Keoghan fell in love with the audience, and Keoghan's popularity grew noticeably. It’s interesting that this role could have gone to another actor - and not just any actor, but Timothée Chalamet himself. But it was Keoghan who was persuaded by Elordi himself to try out for this role.

Барри Кеоган
Барри Кеоган/Фото: Кадр из фильма "Солтберн"/Amazon Prime Video

They are promoting the film together, and online everyone is discussing their joint appearances and their new star bromance.

https://t.me/kureelka/31170
Барри Кеоган и Джейкоб Элорди
Барри Кеоган и Джейкоб Элорди/Фото: Prime Video/X (бывший Twitter, заблокирован в РФ)
Джейкоб Элорди и Барри Кеоган
Джейкоб Элорди и Барри Кеоган/Фото: Скриншот/British Vogue

According to Keoghan himself, in Saltburn, especially in the ambiguous scenes that express the hero's obsession with his friend, he improvised a lot. For example, the film's most scandalous scene at Felix's grave was entirely Keoghan's idea, for which he did not prepare. "I wanted to see what Oliver would do next. What will be the next level of his obsession,” he admitted.

Барри Кеоган
Барри Кеоган/Фото: Кадр из фильма "Солтберн"/Amazon Prime Video

The film received rave reviews from both critics and audiences: its rating exceeds 70% on Rotten Tomatoes. "As Oliver, Keoghan delivers a standout performance, equal parts sinister and compelling. He embraces the plot's twists and turns with malevolent glee, his sad eyes and hard cheekbones serving as an effective mask for a manipulative showmanship. Keoghan approaches every scene with amazing dedication, bringing the film to a divine ending that is felt by every viewer."

Mental traits

Keoghan himself notes that he is a difficult person. According to him, he is very secretive and it is not easy for him to be frank with people. At the same time, he is more open with women and can find an approach to them: this also applies to female directors. Perhaps this is why Saltburn, directed by a woman, became the most successful project of his career. It's interesting that one of the most talked about scenes in "Saltburn" became the one in which Oliver and Felix's sister Venetia have sex.

Элисон Оливер, Джейкоб Элорди и Барри Кеоган
Элисон Оливер, Джейкоб Элорди и Барри Кеоган/Фото: Кадр из фильма "Солтберн"/Amazon Prime Video

The actor has difficulty concentrating: he was diagnosed with ADHD. According to Barry, because of this feature, at one time it was difficult for him to concentrate on learning.

Personal life

More recently, Barry’s fans complained that he had already found the one: since 2021, he dated Alison Sandro, and on August 8, 2022, the couple had a son, Brando. But this week it became known that the couple broke up. They maintained a good relationship, and continue to raise their son together. True, it’s still too early for fans to rejoice: according to rumors, the actor left his beloved because he found another.

Барри Кеоган и Элисон Сандро
Барри Кеоган с Элисон Сандро/Фото: keoghan92/Instagram*

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