Writer/director Martin McDonagh on Seven Psychopaths
While film fans might be wondering where Martin McDonagh has been in recent years, theatre aficionados won’t be. A successful playwright before he embarked on filmmaking (he has won two Laurence Olivier awards and been nominated for four Tony awards), McDonagh returned to the stage after the success of his Oscar-winning black comedy In Bruges with Broadway play A Behanding in Spokane starring Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell.
McDonagh has teamed up with those two actors again for his return to the big screen. Seven Psychopaths is the tale of Marty (Colin Farrell), an Irish screenwriter in LA trying to find inspiration for his next script. He’s decided on a title – Seven Psychopaths – but not much else. That is until his path crosses with some real psychopaths, thanks to his slightly unhinged dognapping friend Billy (Sam Rockwell). What follows is a riotously funny, if occasionally silly caper filled with Tarantino-esque bloody violence.
It’s tempting to think that a film dealing with such themes was inspired by the director’s own experiences. But McDonagh stresses that the script was written several years ago, before we had even caught a whiff of In Bruges.
‘It’s not based on any of my reality,’ McDonagh says, chatting during the London Film Festival, where the film received its UK premiere. ‘I’ve never really had to go there [Hollywood]. Even in the casting of this, I knew the actors from other places.’
“I knew that he [Tom Waits] had gone to see one of my plays in New York and I got a note from him and his wife saying they liked it. Even that was fantastic. One day I got an email and it was from Tom saying, “Do you want to work on a musical?” I spent two days thinking, “Is that true?” We stayed in touch and when the casting of this came up I thought he’d be ideal for it. I emailed him and he got back to me without even reading the script saying, “I get to carry a rabbit? I’m in”.’
Both In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths show a wicked sense of humour that tread a line close to controversy. Does McDonagh ever stop himself going to certain places? Is any subject matter ever off limits?
‘There’s nowhere you can’t go for me. I never write to offend anyone or be mean. I’m pretty politically correct myself [but] I like the idea of your characters never having to be. It’s quite freeing as a writer to express opinions that aren’t your own.’
Seven Psychopaths in on general release from Wed 5 Dec.