Brothers Brian and Domhnall Gleeson star in gleeful new sitcom Frank of Ireland with their famous father Brendan Gleeson.
Produced by Catastrophe star Sharon Horgan the six-part sitcom follows the self-inflicted trials and tribulations of 30-something Dubliner Frank Marron.
Aspiring musician Frank (Peaky Blinders’ Brian Gleeson) claims to be working on a concept album involving a song for all 32 counties of Ireland. The powerful combination of being both untalented and lazy, however, continually thwarts his dream.
In reality Frank lives at home with hilariously inappropriate mum Mary (Fate: The Winx Saga’s Pom Boyd) and idles his days away with pliable pal Doofus (Run star Domhnall Gleeson) — the dumber to Frank’s dumb.
In the opening episode Frank wakes up beside ex-girlfriend Aine, full of regret. Equally remorseful Aine (Normal People’s Sarah Greene) declares this is definitely the last time, as she’s got a new boyfriend. Before the credits roll, Frank has attempted to learn Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), gone on a drink and drugs bender and ruined a funeral…
We caught up with Frank of Ireland creators — Brian, Domhnall and co-writer Michael Moloney…
Frank of Ireland release date
Frank of Ireland debuts on C4 on Thursday April 15 at 10pm. All six episodes are available on All4 after the first episode has aired. While in the US it will be available on Amazon Prime Video from April 16.
“Frank and Doofus are in some form of arrested development. They’re characters who don't want to move on from their childhoods,” explains Brian, 33, who plays Frank. “Frank is like an angry teenager and Doofus is basically like a nine-year-old — that’s where Frank's power over him stems from.”
Movie references and laugh out loud moments
During the series, avid film fans Frank and Doofus end up in movie-echoing scenarios, including a Misery-like incident with Frank’s mum and a Home Alone stand-off when Mary puts the house up for sale.
“They try to write a musical — that doesn't end well. One of the later episodes sees Mary trying to get Frank to move out,” says Domhnall, 37.
“In terms of movies that Frank of Ireland references we’ve got a kind-of Home Alone episode, a sort-of Dances with Wolves episode, and Misery and Memento episodes, if that gives any indication — and it shouldn’t! — of what happens in the shows.”
The origins of Frank of Ireland
“Domhnall and Michael have a relationship of writing sketches together. And I wanted to work with Domhnall again on something,” explains Brian. “The three of us decided to have a chat. It was a very long, organic process, from those first conversations to the screen — about five years!”
Why a comedy?
“When Brian initially brought up the idea of doing something together, doing something funny just made sense,” reveals Domhnall. “The challenge to see whether we could try and make something funny seemed worth taking on. And it's nice to go to work and have a reason to laugh.”
Are the characters in Frank of Ireland based on anyone in real life?
“I think it's probably a mishmash,” says Michael. “We would have drawn on real experiences, not that any of us has ever been beaten up in an MMA ring — or even stepped foot in one!
“As the show was being developed, it all grew from the Frank character more than anything. I think there's quite a lot of all of us in Frank. I think there's a little bit of everyone in Frank. Those negative traits are fun to reflect on and build on.”
Strong female characters
“When we saw Pom Boyd and Sarah Greene do the parts of Mary and Aine, it opened up the characters in a new way for us,” says Domhnall. “They offered new possibilities in terms of how far those characters could go. In terms of how silly and how much of a lack of dignity those characters could have. I think we were very lucky. We've got some of the best actors in Ireland working on Frank of Ireland. And Brendan comes into it as well towards the end of the series, so yes, we’re very, very lucky. It's an amazing cast.”
Which brings us to...
Brendan Gleeson’s guest role
Brendan Gleeson steals the show in the Memento-inspired finale. The star of 28 Days Later, The Guard and Paddington 2 swaggers in as Frank’s slacker dad Liam. But how did the brothers feel when their dad performed the more risqué jokes?
“Dad was amazing and brought an incredible energy on set,” says Domhnall. “He was so up for it and so willing to be stupid. It was brilliant! Michael you were on set, what did you think?”
“I think Brendan was more up for it than you and Brian were,” laughs Michael. “Domhnall and Brian were a bit more squeamish than Brendan was. But I can understand it, there’s a lot of stuff with his character and Frank’s mum. It’s tricky territory!”
Is there a trailer?
Yes, and it's very funny... contains swearing!
And finally, stand moments from filming
“I remember the look of panic in Brian’s eyes when we were filming in the MMA ring and they announced they were bringing a class in. How do I put this… Brian had a full on fake boner down his tiny MMA pants, and there was nowhere to hide!” laughs Domhnall, who adds:
“We like comedies like Dumb and Dumber and Alan Partridge, where taking the dignity of the characters away is a funny thing to do. Everybody was so game and willing to do something that looks really stupid and embarrassing. For me it’s a jacuzzi scene. But, if it gets a laugh, it feels worth it!”
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