One Irishman you will not be seeing this summer is Brian F. O'Byrne. True, he is starring in the political thriller The International, alongside Naomi Watts and Clive Owen. The film is about an agent seeking to bring down a prestigious financial firm which has taken to smuggling arms. The International was initially slated for a summer 2008 release. The latest word is that the film has been pushed back to February 2009.
It's not surprising that the director of the Irish political prison film Hunger went into film. His name is Steve McQueen, after all. McQueen, however, does not make suave action films like the 1970s American icon did. Instead, McQueen made one of the most unforgettable films at this year's Cannes Film Festival. Hunger, in fact, won the Camera d'Or prize for best first film.
Hunger was co-written by Irish playwright Enda Walsh and chronicles the infamous 1981 hunger strikes in the Maze prison in Northern Ireland. The film features what has widely been described as a star-making turn by Michael Fassbender, who plays Bobby Sands, who became an international symbol of injustice when he died in the Maze while on hunger strike at the age of 27. "Within the prison, there were prison officers who I identify with and protestors with whom I identify," McQueen said after winning the award. "The film is about people in a situation and what these people do."
Interestingly, neither of the two driving forces behind Hunger are Irish-born. McQueen is British while Fassbender was born in Heidelburg, Germany, though his family moved to Killarney, Ireland, when he was young. Fassbender appeared in the swords-and-sandals comic book film 300 and Woody Allen's Cassandra's Dream, alongside Colin Farrell. Fassbender has also been seen in numerous British and American TV shows, including Band of Brothers. He is next slated to appear in the upcoming Joel Schumacher movie Town Creek. It's worth noting that Colin Farrell's big breakthrough was Tigerland, also directed by Joel Schumacher. Perhaps the director can do the same for Fassbender.