The red doorway on Schull’s Main St might not seem very Disney, but for the open casting of Artemis Fowl, maybe it was perfect — the seemingly innocuous doorway opening the way to a world of fantasy.
As a summer job, it’s pretty good. Wanted: An Irish boy for the title role in Disney’s adaptation of Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl, directed by Kenneth Branagh. Must be criminally good.
And so they came to Schull and the Fastnet Film Festival yesterday for the first of two days of open casting for the lead role of Artemis, one that requires a boy aged nine to 13 who is inquisitive, perceptive, warm-hearted and in tune with a character beloved of millions of readers.
Many had already applied but some, like Conor O’Reilly had — in the words of his mother, Catriona — “just rocked up”.
Conor, 12, had travelled to Schull with his mum and his twin brother, David, from Wexford town.
“It’s really just that I have loved performing for a year or so,” Conor said. Catriona said it had started with the school play which more recently had resulted in Conor playing the young Simba in a production of The Lion King. “I’ve been hooked ever since,” he said.
His brother, David, had read the first Artemis Fowl and Conor is also flying through it. As for the audition? “I think it went well.” There were no thoughts of bamboozling the casting agents by sending in David as well — and as Catriona explained, he’s more into playing the saxophone than acting.
The O’Reillys had set off early, and so had Thomas Doonan and his dad, Hugh - all the way to Schull from Cavan.
Thomas, aged 12, said: “I like acting. I’ve done a few plays.”
Hugh explained how an uncle in the family had played in Cavan’s all-Ireland winning side in the ‘40s and a play about his life had led to Thomas taking a part. He already has the enigmatic interview responses down to a T. Does he want to be an actor when he grows up? “King of,” he said. Hugh was happy for him to get the initial call following the application process and for them to enjoy the day out. “If you don’t take a chance on anything in life you won’t get anywhere,” he said.
Setanta McLaughlin from Clonskeagh in Dublin hadn’t travelled quite as far. “I am very prepared,” he said, adding that he’d read the first Artemis and liked it. He was accompanied by his mother, columnist and TV panellist Amanda Brunker.
“He should have curly hair and needs to look different to every other Hollywood kid,” she said of Artemis while referring to her son’s head of tumbling curls.
They were coming from all quarters and in the case of Naoise O’Driscoll, from literally down the road. The eight-year-old lives in Schull and attends the gaelscoil in Skibbereen and following yesterday’s audition, he was enjoying a well-earned packet of Chewits.
How’d it go? “Good.” His mother, Ciara, said they’d been listening to the audio books.
“I also like how it’s all about magic,” Naoise chipped in between sweets.
Maybe the red door is a magic door? Who knows where it’ll lead.