Interview with Fionnula Flanagan of
“Life’s A Breeze”& “Tasting Menu”
, April 25, 2014
It’s so green here.
Even coming in on the plane, I saw all these
Presbyterian Outlook: This is a good
time of year to be here.
Summers not so much.
like the idea in “Tasting Menu” that you could make one night so special,
and you could have food that’s just so incredible that you’ll remember
that evening forever. And
then you add to that the ambiance of cocktails on the veranda, music on the
beach, and I was thinking, “How great it would be, to have an experience
like that, that you would just never forget.” Did you have any sense that it
could really be that special?
It was modeled on a world-famous restaurant---I’m not a foodie,
however---but it was called Buli, and it was not too far from there, near
, near the French border.
It’s one of the most beautiful places in the
that why the Spanish sounded so funny?
Yes, it was Catalan.
. They all understand Spanish, but not all Spaniards understand
Catalan. It’s full of x’s and y’s, you know.
Nobody could pass a spelling test.
weren’t trying to speak it?
No, I have some Spanish, but I wouldn’t even attempt Catalan.
But Andy Tarbet, for instance, who plays Max in
the movie, is Canadian, and he speaks fluent Catalan---he’s married to a
Spanish actress, and he’s lived there for years.
He writes plays in Catalan.
very impressive. You
know, there were several languages being thrown around there---the Japanese
customers, throwing around their Japanese---
(laughs) Yes, when we were all together in the hotel, and all hanging
out, you heard all sorts of languages.
: Did you really get to eat all that great gourmet food?
You know, the truth of the matter is, we had this incredible chef, who
has his own restaurant in
—not too far away---and he prepared all of those delicacies.
He had some sous-chefs hovering while he was
doing all of that, who handed it to the actors playing the waiters.
But the truth is they put it down in front of
you, you push it around with your fork a little bit, you take one bite and say
“Mm, very good!” they say “Cut!”, then they bring you another one.
But you know, actors don’t like to eat on
camera, anyways. We
didn’t get to eat an awful lot, but we did eat a little bit of everything.
did have a point of identification with you.
You’re sitting there, looking at the people at
the next table, and you’re so cognizant of their interaction and their
dynamic that you’re sort of making up a backstory in your head, which
isn’t quite right, but still, you’re relying heavily on your intuition
about folks. I
will do the same thing in a restaurant.
Do you then go over and tell them what they should do they with their
Well I did! (laughs)
You were so intent on that young couple in front of you, and kinda
wanting to help them along a little bit, by telling her to go with her heart.
FF: Well, the irony is that later
on you find out that my (character’s) husband was unfaithful to me, all the
time, and she finally confesses that, but she prefers to believe, publicly,
that he was wonderful, you know. So when I threw the ashes into the sea, I
said to Roger (
, the Director), “We should throw the urn into the sea, too!”
I was sitting there thinking just that!
You know the reason I didn’t?
They’d forgotten to bring the double urn, in
case we needed to do the shot again….and that urn weighed a ton!
But that would have been a fitting ending to that
Yes, like “Go to Hell.
Let the sea take him.
I don’t want him any more.” When we do the
re-make, we’ll do it that way!
How difficult was it to turn into the
in “Life’s A Breeze”?
Well, I had to play an 80-year-old (she’s only 72!), and they took an
hour and a half for the makeup every day.
We shot all the exteriors in
in November and December.
It rained and sleeted and snowed and sometimes
all three at once. There
was a horrible cold wind.
It was bitter, and we shot so much of it in
landfills, and I was up to my knees in stinky mud a lot of the time.
And then we did all the interiors in a studio in
we had a wonderful production designer who created this entire Georgian Dublin
house, down to the last detail.
had some identification with your character again.
I’m getting older now, so people are looking at
me as curmudgeonly, or getting senile, or both.
a delicious dynamic, though, having a big secret from the family like that.
But your character never says what you intended
to do with that money in the mattress.
That shot was cut out.
I was going to leave it to the little girl.
Yes, for her education. But I was the curmudgeon there.
I didn’t want her bringing me my newspaper in
the morning; I’m independent.
You see me shoveling my own coal.
It was an interesting film to make,
because I think families are like that.
rivalries, and the little secrets, the slackers, and the ones who are
successful are arrogant….all that.
Yeah, and grudges kept for eternities, passed down for generations.
Emma was the one who always believed you, and the only time you got mad at her
was when she expressed a little doubt.
fears what the rest of the family suspects, that I’m starting to lose it.
So be nice to your children, they’re the ones who will pick the home
you go to! (Perish the thought!)
you do have identification with this character yourself.
Yes, I do. That’s
what made her interesting to me.
had a lot of love/hate.
It’s an absolutely awful family:
greedy, pushy, and this gesture of cleaning out
this house is not for her, it’s so they can sell it.
But I like the roles with a little edge to them,
some bite, because they’re interesting to play.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister,
St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church,