By Finian Coghlan
IT is seldom enough to have the names of two Oscar winners pop up in an interview, and even rarer to discover that one of them paid for your interviewee’s drama school, while the other said ‘yes’ to her phone call.
Yet this is the rarified world that Kilteel woman – and Emmy-nominated casting director – Elaine Grainger (48) operates from, while she searches for a boy to star opposite Olivia Coleman in a new Irish film to be shot in the west over the summer.
“We running a campaign to find the co-lead with Olivia which is a 13 year old Irish boy, and we’re in the middle of a nationwide search to play this breakout role,” said the personable Holy Family, Rathcoole past pupil.
“We’re looking for boys aged between 11 and 16 years who don’t have to have any previous acting experience,” she said, exercising her considerable casting influence.
Joyride will star Oscar winner Olivia Colman from The Crown and The Favourite and current Oscar nominee for The Father.
This film is written by an Irish writer Ailbhe Keogan, directed by Emmy-winning Irish director Emer Reynolds and will shoot in Kerry and Clare this summer from 21 June until the end of July.
“I read the script on a sunbed in Greece and knew it was a great one when I kept hitting Ian every couple of paragraphs and saying ‘read this’ and ‘read that bit’,” said Elaine.
“I just knew it was good enough to send to Olivia Coleman’s agent, and she loved it. I knew she would,” said Elaine.
Curiously, this is not Elaine’s first connection with the Kildare Nationalist, as our editor Barbara Sheridan directed her in a musical called The Raven Beckons by Shaun Purcell in St Anthony’s Hall in Dublin back in 1990 when she was an accountancy student in the College of Commerce in Rathmines.
“Tell her she set me on my way!” laughed Elaine.
It was from this production that she was spotted by music legend Hazel O’Connor who cast her again in another version of the musical the following year, which in turn gained the attention of John Mills (yes, he who won the Oscar for Ryan’s Daughter). “He paid for my fees to drama school in London,” said Elaine..
It was through her long-term partner Ian that she discovered her love of casting. She cut her teeth on a TV series starring Michael Fassbender before Lucinda Syson made her associate casting director on Batman Beginswhich really set her on her way.
From this she grew a career path through Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (Pine, Costner, Knightley),London has Fallen (Gerard Butler),The Hitman’s Bodyguard with Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L Jackson, Hampstead with Diane Keaton and Brendan Gleeson, and he Wife which Glenn Close was Oscar nominated for.
“I’ve had a blessed career,” she says with some understatement, as she is currently in pre-production in the UK with Gary Oldman and Madonna, and will start a HBO production in October with Pierce Brosnan
However, Elaine is delighted to get the opportunity to cast her net in Ireland.
“I’m thrilled to shoot in Ireland, and persuade the big names over, I can’t wait!” she said.
“Kerry will be mad for the summer and I’d be thrilled if we could cast a Kildare boy for the part of Mully [the 13-year-old co-lead opposite Coleman],” she said.
“This is potentially to find a future breakout film star,” she said.
“It is a complex, rewarding and challenging part; Mully is bold, sensitive, emotional, defiant and hilarious,” she outlined.
“The ideal boy will have a huge heart and boundless bravery, who will fearlessly take this journey with us, so if you are, or know, a young male actor, with or without film experience, aged between 11 and 16, we would love to hear from you. A fantastic singing voice wouldn’t go amiss either!” she added.
Parents are invited to email name, address, recent photo and short biog of their son to [email protected] before the end of the month.