Oh Brother! Brian and Domhnall Gleeson Unleash ‘Frank of Ireland’ (VIDEO)
Frank of Ireland‘s titular man-child Frank Marron (Brian Gleeson) isn’t the kind of guy you’d want to hang with. But the single 33-year-old who lives with his mom is the kind of guy you’ll want to watch in the Amazon original (premiering April 16) as he wreaks havoc on himself and his Emerald Isle friends and family.
“The idea of [someone] this angry and delusional knocking around Dublin delighted us,” says Brian, a co-writer and producer with brother Domhnall Gleeson (who costars as Frank’s friend, Doofus). With a chip on his shoulder, Frank finds himself in “awful scenarios,” adds Domhnall.
Think cringe-y moments (à la Emmy-winning Fleabag), like awkwardly serenading a church full of funeral attendees with a song that makes things way worse. Here, the brothers Gleeson get frank about, well, Frank.
Frank is possibly the funniest man-child since David Brent of the U.K.’s The Office.
Brian Gleeson: High praise indeed!
Domhnall Gleeson: How nice of you to say! Ourselves and Michael [Maloney, co-writer] have loved lots of U.K. and Irish comedy over the years, from Fawlty Towers to Alan Partridge, Father Ted to The Office and Fleabag, so there’s influence from all those shows in Frank of Ireland. There’s lots of American influence too. Frank himself is sort of like a 13-year-old in arrested development — the condition, not the show — so we put him in positions that pushed him to the extreme, like in Arrested Development. The show, not the condition. [Laughs]
Funeral songs, concussed, drugged mothers, MMA boners, tragically abandoned dogs…please tell me that none of these were inspired by actual events.
Brian: I can neither confirm nor deny the truth of these ideas. No, of course, they’re all made up. God help us if myself and Domhnall ever actually sat in a bush and tried to light a bag of human poo on fire. [Laughs]
Domhnall: Only one of those events is based on real life, and we’ll never say which. Writing the show was great because once the three of us knew who Frank was, we got to sit around and imagine him in the most awful scenarios. Frank’s funniest when he thinks things are about to go brilliantly and is then confronted by the awfulness of reality. He never deals with it well.
Are there any similarities between the Frank-Doofus dynamic and the Brian-Domhnall one? Was there a fair amount of improvising done?
Brian: The Frank-Doofus dynamic is kind of a classic double act, nothing like me and Domhnall. Barely any improv.
Domhnall: We wanted the shows to be quite tightly plotted, so there wasn’t much room for improvisation, but there were plenty of laughs to be had. We tried to conjure up scenarios that start realistic but degenerate into madness due to Frank’s actions. The dynamic between us is nothing like Frank and Doofus, I’m pretty sure but maybe that’s just hopeful thinking.
Brian, what’s the key to keeping Frank lovable, despite his horrific selfishness?
Brian: I think him enjoying his creature comforts is important, seeing his delight in life, his fears and insecurities. All that usual stuff that makes up a human being. You’re just turning up the dial. I think it’s just making him unpredictable in a way that has internal logic or something. Frank loves his [mom] and Doofus, that’s important too. He just has a very funny way of showing it.
How would you describe Frank’s emotional development — other than very slow —over the course of these six episodes?
Brian: Frank is mired in stasis so there isn’t a huge opportunity for him to develop emotionally. I think rather than a journey we see a kind of revealing of Frank as someone who cares about the people around him. But you can’t lean too heavily into that, even though it’s definitely there. Making him a fun presence is the most important thing.
Is Frank able to change at all, or is he literally stuck in a routine?
Brian: I think Frank’s best chance in a world this mad is to be a little more like a Doofus and a little less like [his ex’s new doctor beau] Peter-Brian [Tom Vaughan-Lawlor]. But the changes wouldn’t be big, no. He’s set in his ways!
So, spoiler, there’s a twist in the finale. Can you set that up at all?
Brian: Episode 6 was definitely thought out, but we wanted to make sure the story made sense over the whole season, not just one episode. There’s no specific set-up. The story of Frank and his pals over the whole six episodes is what’s important.
Domhnall: Hope you liked it! We wanted to build to a climax that was organic and meant something. It took some working out, but we’re happy that all the details are there from the beginning to understand the ending as we see it… though everyone’s interpretation is valid.
Frank of Ireland, Friday, April 16, Prime Video.