Michael Keaton, one of the standouts in the Oscar-nominated "Spotlight," which brilliantly delves into the clerical sexual abuse cover-up in Boston, says the acclaimed film was tough to come to terms with given his Irish Catholic background.
“This is about the institution and the hold it had on Boston. The Irish Catholic community is so tight there and it’s enmeshed at all levels of society. In politics. In culture. So this is about taking on an institution, one that goes all the way up to the Vatican. It’s not about being disrespectful about anyone’s faith,” Keaton told The Irish Times last Friday.
"Spotlight" opened last weekend in Ireland, and Keaton is well aware of how the Irish Catholic church has been embroiled in multiple abuse scandals.
“I’m so curious to see how the film is received in Ireland. My feeling – and I’ve read so many accounts about this – is that Ireland is ahead of the curve on this issue,” Keating told the Times.
“I know they’re still uncovering abuse that happened in Ireland and I know that’s a tiny country so that’s intense. But I think this will not be shocking for the Irish. It’s already part of a discussion.”
Though his film is up for Best Picture and a host of other Oscars, Keaton has a soft spot for "Brooklyn," the Irish coming-of-age immigrant story set in 1950s New York starring Saoirse Ronan, a favorite to take the Best Actress statue.
“I just met Saoirse and her mom. They are just the nicest people. How good is that movie? How beautiful is that scene when he stands up and sings that song in Gaelic? That killed me,” Keaton says.
“It hits you on a really primitive level with that sense of loss that comes from leaving home. And I love that it’s unabashedly what it is. It’s not coy or apologetic about its sentimentality. It’s weirdly bold in that way.”
Keaton, a Best Actor nominee last year for "Birdman," has traveled to Ireland several times before, and says his maternal grandfather “probably” came from Co. Mayo.