Brendan Courtney chats bidding war with Drew Barrymore, Andrew Scott and Aran jumpers

Pic: Instagram/Brendan Courtney

We caught up with Brendan Courtney as he begins his journey of relearning Irish.

And of course, he has plenty of hilarious stories up his sleeve. From bidding wars with Drew Barrymore to making clothes for Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal.

Here’s how we spent 10 minutes with Brendan…


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Brendan, how are you? What are you working on at the minute?

I’m back learning Irish as part of Creidim Ionat.  I ran out of school and dropped Irish like a hot rock, but I’ve always lamented it in my older adult years, wanting to get back to which I actually started lessons before Christmas with the online tutor and so I’ve been gently doing this and heading back into it so when this came up, it’s in my head to do this anyway. So this is a great little, I suppose, line in the sand, and then kind of something to aim for.

How are you finding it?

When I started doing the lessons, I’d be really kind of busy at work and have to switch off and go in and do the lessons and the lessons were kind of like working out very relaxing, because you’re only thinking about one thing, thinking about Irish, you know and so it was actually a very lovely distraction away from your phone, away from, you know, daily life. So I’m really enjoying it actually. I need to spend more time but you know you always feel guilty you’re not giving enough time you know what I mean.

And you have a podcast!

Yes, it just started a couple of weeks ago its called Any News with myself and David O’Reilly, who worked on 2FM and is an actor. He toured with the Book of Mormon for six years. He’s been on stage with Jennifer Saunders, he’s in a new ITV drama next year, like, he’s a brilliant actor, and he also presents on 2FM. He’s a good friend of mine and I was on radio one and we were like I had him on the show one day and we did a section of a kind of crazy news stories or local news stories and it just always stayed in my head that it really cracked me up. I love local news stories and with all such so much bad news in the papers, and, you know, and telly, it’s nice to just showcase these lovely little community stories, which are kind of gas and funny like I-I my one that stuck in my head was in Donegal and the headline in the Donegal leader people said Trouble the Peacock found after Letterkenny adventure and there was a picture of a woman crying hugging her peacock and basically, the peacock was found in a KFC car park after running away and it made the headline, it just cracked me up. So we pick a county each episode, today is Tyrone last week with West Meath, the week before was Cavan and we just literally try and dabble with each other with interesting facts about this county, and then funny things wouldn’t know, famous people from there and then we have a look at the locals. 

Keys to my LIfe Pic: RTÉ

And will you use your cúpla focal on the show?

Oh yeah! Creidim Ionat which means I believe in you so we have four weeks to learn enough Irish to be able to record an episode in Connemara as Gaeilge. 

Well, Gaeilge is having its moment and we’re delighted to see it! Andrew Scott has gone viral recently for using Irish!

Oh wow! I just met Andrew and Paul [Mescal].

Oh, tell us about that!

I was wearing a pink Aran cardigan version of this when I gave them I handed the three of them, including the director who is also called Andrew, Andrew, Andrew and Paul Mescal wrapped up in a pink Aran jumper. I had cut a woman’s cardigan up to make it bolero just being mental, and it turned out really well, actually and by fluke, Paul pulled on my cardigan and said “Did we get one of them?” And I was like, “no you got a jumper” and Andrew Scott said, “You’d probably cut that into a belly top anyway.”  [Laughs]

So you’re all best friends now!

[Laughs] That night actually, I met Paul Mescal’s mother but we’ve become friends, Derbhla, she wore Lennon Courtney to the BAFTAs with Paul.


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Okay, Brendan, speaking of fab actors. Who would play you in a movie?

 Oh, so when I was younger, people would say, I look like certain people. So I used to get Jason Donovan when I was younger because I had blonde hair, I had dyed blonde hair. Like I was so happy I was like, “Do I? Really?”   

Now, I was in the swimming pool on holiday in Greece last year, and we met this couple. Myself and Adam met this couple sort of my age, our age, and they had a gorgeous 21-year-old daughter and 16-year-old daughter and one of the daughters fancied this French, this guy, and he swam over one day, and I was talking to him and he told the girl, “Your dad looks like Tom Hanks.” I think, first of all, “I’m not her f**king dad, how dare you?!” [laughs] and next of all “What?!” and I get Tom Hanks all the time now. [Laughs]

Tom Hanks? We don’t see it!

I get it all the time! Somebody said one day a young Tom Hanks and I was like phew! But who would play me in a movie? It depends on the decade because I was a wild gay when I was in my twenties, wild! So it probably would be James Kavanagh playing a youngish me. Actually, I was hungover one day, living in London, hungover on a Sunday morning and I was sitting in the bed eating a Pot Noodle, as you do, really hungover, and I actually spilt it all over myself when the Leanne Rimes story came on Channel Five! Why? Well, guess who playing Leanne Rimes in the Leanne Rimes Story – Leanne Rimes. Yes, she played herself and that’s probably how I’d do it!

Tell us your three dream dinner guests!

Janet Jackson. Beyoncé, she would be the little pal and Andrew Scott! Now, the people I know that I’d love to have dinner with, which I do have dinner with, which is Joan McNally, James Kavanagh and Andrea Horan we have great dinners. 

Who is the person you look up to the most?

There are some people who have in public life so professionally held themselves very elegantly, I think, actually, Andrew Scott. I think his representation of Ireland and Irish men is just so impressive, and global and international and I mean Cillian Murphy is in that bracket. It’s just Cillian looks like he’s not enjoying it sometimes which I don’t think he is! [Laughs] I don’t think he likes the promotional side of it. I think he’s just all about the work, darling. But I think, Andrew, you know, when you meet Andrew, and I’ve met him a couple of times over the years, he’s so gracious and giddy and happy to be there and, you know, he’s grateful and even though he’s that fecking talented he’s – there’s a new wave of people like in particular Irish people, like Saoirse Ronan and even Barry [Keoghan] they’re all very grateful first and confidence second, and I think that’s how you express yourself on the world stage, and people just fall in love with those people. 

Brendan Courtney and Adam Maryniak

Ah sure, no one would let Irish people get too big-headed! Or God forbid, get notions!

I think It’s part of our history being colonized and humility and never get, you know sure nobody would be looking at you when you’re getting nervous about going out in your horrible cheap runners and your mother would be going sure nobody will be looking at you what are you talking about? And in a way, actually, that actually is true. I live by that. Nobody cares, like, even if it’s gossip for a minute, it’s off their lips and they’re back to thinking what they’re having for their dinner. You know, people really don’t care. They barely care about their own children so being tied up about what people think of you is the biggest waste of your time and I think understanding nobody cares.

Irish people we don’t take ourselves too seriously and I think that’s very important, and the craic is very important to us you know, that night of the Premier, we ended up, I had been on dry January, and I fell head first off it with them up in Love Tempo on Thomas street and you know, I was there watching them go you know, the craic is still very, very, very important to all of us. With or without alcohol, by the way, you know, it doesn’t have to, it doesn’t have to involve alcohol anymore which is great.

Oh we love the craic!

We love the craic I think that’s the most important thing to Irish people just any craic. 

What is a book that you wish you could read for the first time again?

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. It is an amazing book and actually, it’s quite an interesting story. I stumbled across it, I think about maybe 10 to 15 years. He had written this book, living at home with his mother and committed suicide in his thirties so there’s a sort of a weird, autobiographical feel to the book. It’s about this big, overweight, weird guy who lived at home with his mother in his thirties and, it’s very, very funny because he’s a hater, and you’re inside his head. It’s based in New Orleans, where he lived, where he lived and died. After his death, his mother found his manuscript and brought it to his secondary school teacher who said, this is really good got it published and it was number one New York and one best seller but he was dead. It’s one of the greatest books of all time. Anyway, I was like, how is this book not a film? So me, being me, cheeky bastard, I went to buy the options for a movie, and, and I got into a very short-lived bidding war with Drew Barrymore  

A bidding war?!

Now when I say bidding war it was not quite sold and they said make an offer and I was like I have no idea how that even works do I get an agent and they were like well just be warned you’re bidding against a Hollywood star whos in love with the book aswell. So I was like oh okay thousand dollars maybe. So she obviously had us but eh yeah technically it was a bidding war. War is a very big word you know. 

Would we say a scrap?

Yes! That’s it! [Laughs]

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