With smash hit Irish comedy ‘The Young Offenders’ releasing on DVD Friday March 3rd, we asked Hilary Rose for her memories of how the film came together, and her reaction to the runaway success of the comedy.
Rose plays Mairead MacSweeney, otherwise known as the tormented mother of Conor (Alex Murphy).
“The question that I have been asked the most since the release of “The Young Offenders” is, 'Did you think it would be this successful?’ My reply is always a very honest, 'No'. In January 2015, I had just wrapped on the fourth and final season of RTÉ's hidden camera show, ‘The Fear’. Peter came to me with the idea for ‘The Young Offenders’ while we were on holidays, I loved it and I was on board immediately.
“I had spent previous years acting in TV comedy and although I loved it, I found myself gravitating towards drama. For me, ‘The Young Offenders’ was just I was looking for; the perfect mix of comedy and drama and I loved the character of Mairead. She is a tough young mum struggling to keep herself and her tear-away son afloat.
“We began the casting process, which I was involved in. It was great to see so many super young actors in Cork but it really came down to our two leads Chris Walley and Alex Murphy. We rehearsed and hung out as much as possible to get our family connections right for when we walked on set, we even went shopping for our costumes together in the city while in character.
“It was great to get that time to connect with the characters, something that low budget filmmaking lends itself to really well thankfully. It was the first Mum role for me that I felt truly connected to as I found out that I was pregnant just as we went into pre-production. We began shooting in May and wrapped in August so we shot the final kitchen scene when I was seven months pregnant! It was a tough few days but so worth it when we saw the outcome.
“Even though we all felt there was something special about ‘The Young Offenders’ as we were making it, we were never certain that it would turn into the runaway success that it did. It premiered at the Galway Film Fleadh, and after that screening the buzz really kicked in. We were thrilled to share the award for Best Irish Film with ‘A Date for Mad Mary’.
“Since then it has gone from strength to strength; it surpassed all expectations at the Irish box office and it went straight to number one on iTunes, which was incredible. The whole whirlwind of the film kind passed me by a little, if I’m completely honest. I was busy on maternity leave with a new baby, which is a little all-consuming, so I dipped in and out of chaos.
“I think it really hit home for me when it went into cinemas in the UK in January and suddenly we were being reviewed by a fresh audience all over again. It breathed new life into the film especially when BBC’s Mark Kermode gave it a glowing review with a special mention for me. I have to admit that really made my entire year as I’ve listened to his podcast for years.
The film continues to tour in festivals worldwide and it is still in Mahon Point cinema since last September, which gives me a giggle.
“Everyone always asks, ‘What were your toughest moments on set?’ I think learning to fillet fish in the English Market while trying to stifle morning sickness is up there. And doing the action sequence in the final kitchen scene while seven months pregnant. But they were probably the worst it. All in all it was a genuinely fun shoot. My favourite moments on ‘The Young Offenders’?—Watching PJ Gallagher having his head shaved on set by the caterer; doing all our improvisations takes (Never have I ever found it so hard to keep a straight face); having cake eating competitions at lunch time; hanging out with the lads all day; and seeing if today was the day my costume wouldn’t close over my ever-growing baby bump.
“’The Young Offenders’ is this low budget, little film with big ambitions and I’m so proud to have worked on it. Thank you so much to everyone who supported us and everyone that went to see it."