What can you tell us about Malachy's personality?
Malachy's a very sharp, very smart kid. When we first meet him he's doing a crappy summer job in the local leisure centre but he's doing it for very practical reasons - to earn money to go out with his mates - and he's obviously not going to be stuck there forever. He does well at school - I imagine he's one of those guys who claims he never studies but then ends up doing brilliantly at exam time. He's got his whole future ahead of him, as people keep telling him, much to his annoyance. So he's got his head stuck on. But at the same time, there's a wilder side to him and that's what comes out when he's with Luke. And there's a competitive edge to that relationship. Though Malachy comes from a stable, warm family background - unlike Luke - he doesn't want to be seen as the sensible, well-behaved one. He's keen to show that he can be every bit as mad as Luke. And all of that comes to a head when they meet Michelle.
The film obviously centres around the breakdown of Luke and Malachy's friendship as they fight for the affections of Michelle, leading to "a deadly end". How did the concept for the film come about?
It was always a teen movie about the competition between two guys for one girl. Initially there was an idea that the competition would revolve around the idea of 'sin' - Malachy and Luke would try and outsin one another! But it quickly became clear that the language of sin, that kind of religious language that was drummed into me when I was growing up in Ireland, didn't really mean anything to kids of the age of Malachy and Luke - the fifteen/sixteen year olds of today. So that idea was parked. But by that stage the characters themselves had taken over really, which is what you always hope for as a writer, so I just had to pay attention to them and let them kind of dictate their own story. And then when the directors, Lisa and Glenn, came on board, they brought a whole new set of ideas to the table, to do with the changing nature of the city, the leisure centre setting and so on, and their own kind of energy, so that all fed into the thing as well. It's a very organic process, writing a film.
What is your view of the British cinema of the noughties and young British talents?
A combination of things really: I'm excited about the possibilities of British (and Irish) film but at the same time I'm realistic about just how hard it is to make films here. Cherrybomb is my second film as screenwriter. With the first one, Middletown, it took over five years from initial idea to actually going into production, and with Cherrybomb it was something similar. And a lot of that time is spent just trying to raise the money. So it's a struggle. But having said that, it's worth it: there's nothing more exciting than working on a film.
With Cherrybomb, since the three leads are teenagers, we saw a lot of young actors from Britain and Ireland. There are some absolutely brilliant young actors out there and we've got three of the best. We've been really lucky. And it was a particular thrill to work with Rupert of course.
Did Rupert portray Malachy exactly as you'd imagined and/or hoped? What do you feel he brought to the role?
The great thing about working with really good actors is that they take the character on and make it their own, to the extent that, as a writer, you almost can't remember how you'd previously imagined the character. So now when I think of Malachy I just think of Rupert. He really has made him his own. He's just such a fine film actor. The years of experience he's had of working on the Potter films - I mean, he's an old hand now, he's a film veteran! - that stuff really tells. He knows just how much and how little to do - there are wonderful moments of stillness in his performance in Cherrybomb, for all the wildness and energy of the world around him. He's very subtle and expressive. I just love his performance and I can't wait to see what he's going to do in the future. he's clearly in it for the long haul. I'd love to work with him again.
The film is widely reported to be a gritty thriller and romance, what are the other aspects of the story which we can look forward to?
It's very much a film about the experience of being a teenager, so it's got that kind of energy, that slightly out of control excitement of not quite knowing who you are yet or where you're going. And there's a fun to that, as well as danger of course. I think the film balances both of those things, the fun and the danger. So while there are dark elements to the story, it's not bleak, there's banter and lightness to the world as well. Part of it I guess is that the experience of being a teenager is all about extremes, so if something is dark and upsetting it's the darkest most upsetting thing in the world, but if something is funny it's the funniest thing ever.
And I should mention the music as well. Music is very important to the three main characters in the story and David Holmes has put together a fantastic soundtrack to the film.
We would like to again say a big huge "Thank you!" to Daragh for this wonderful interview!