George McKay has revealed that Irish MMA fighter Conor McGregor inspired his portrayal of Ned Kelly in the upcoming movie "True History of the Kelly Gang."
The 27-year-old British actor told the PA news agency: “Ned is like an animal, he’s everything, he’s like a mixture of this wild colonial boy but also by the same token, if I’m going to be every element of Australia, there was a bit of a kangaroo dance in there as well.
“Conor McGregor was a big reference, for a modern Irish aggressive (persona). There were so many things.”
McKay is not the first actor to be inspired by McGregor’s persona — Tom Hardy said he based his character in Venom on the MMA fighter, RTÉ reports.
The "1917" star is the latest actor to take on the role of the Australian outlaw, who was executed in 1880. Previous portrayals of Kelly include Heath Ledger in “Ned Kelly” (2003) and Sir Mick Jagger “Ned Kelly” (1970).
MacKay said he wanted to make the part his own, according to The Irish News.
He said: “I think we just treated it as our own thing.
“There is one thing that Justin (Kurzel) said is because he’s so revered as a symbol in Australia, people are kind of nervous to touch or to play with the truth that we’ve agreed upon, as to what that symbol is.
“And that wasn’t the case with this one so in a way it felt completely different.
“There was a thing where I tried to grow a beard and I couldn’t grow a beard and I think in a way that was part of the release.
“The real Ned has got this beard down to here, people just know the last image of him, and once we got rid of that it was like ‘Well let’s just get rid of all of it, let’s free ourselves of all of that, let’s make it in the spirit of things rather than the actual history as to as and when exactly things happened because it’s open to interpretation.’”
"True History of the Kelly Gang," based on Peter Carey’s novel of the same name, also stars Russell Crowe and Charlie Hunnam.
The film will be released on February 28 in Ireland and the UK, and on April 24 in the United States.