It’s not wrong to say that Barry Keoghan has had quite a whirlwind couple of years. The Dublin-born actor gained recognition for starring in Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer, portraying an enigmatic character seeking revenge on a family of four. As Martin, Keoghan terrorised the uneventful lives of Colin Farrell’s and Nicole Kidman’s characters. In one scene, Martin innocently convinces the former to show him his hairy armpits. And in another, Kidman’s character kisses Martin’s feet—a biblical reference to that of a sinful woman kissing the feet of Christ.
Yes. Nicole Kidman kissed both of Barry Keoghan’s feet. It’s a bewildering experience that Keoghan himself has exclaimed in disbelief countless times in interviews.
Keoghan followed that performance with the Academy Award-winning Dunkirk, a war film by Christopher Nolan that’s based on World War II’s Operation Dynamo in the north of France. In other words, a complete 180-degree turn from being in a psychological thriller. But still acting alongside big names such as Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy and Harry Styles.
“I mean, me nanny keeps me in shape with that, doesn’t she? Because she doesn’t know who anyone is,” Keoghan explains in an interview, referring to his grandmother who took him in after years in foster care.
Keoghan’s own life, perhaps, could one day make for an award-winning biopic. His mother succumbed to drug addiction in the early ’90s and died when Keoghan was young. He and his older brother Eric were then put into the foster care system, living in 13 homes before settling in with their maternal grandmother.
Acting and his love for film wasn’t something Keoghan could openly declare living in Ireland; it just wasn’t a stereotypical Irish lad passion. But according to Keoghan, his brother’s support was all he needed. Keoghan balances the artistry with his passion for boxing, a sport that he almost went in the ring for in 2017 if not for an injury.
And then there’s the brush with luxury fashion. Back when Kris Van Assche was the creative director of Dior Homme, he picked Keoghan to be a friend of the brand. This afforded Keoghan the chance to attend his first fashion show during Dior Homme’s spring/summer 2018 runway show in Paris, outfitted in Dior Homme of course.
Yet it’s clearly acting that has Keoghan hooked. After appearing in two episodes of HBO’s critically acclaimed series Chernobyl, Keoghan is returning to television—in his first starring role in a television series—in Y, a post-apocalyptic science fiction drama adapted from the comic book series Y: The Last Man. Think of the 2020 series as a reverse to The Handmaid’s Tale, where women are in power instead of in submission. Keoghan will play Yorick Brown, who’s the only surviving human male, which could only mean that he’s a prized rarity and no doubt, a target in the series.
Then there's the recent announcement that Keoghan will take on a role in Marvel Studios' The Eternals. The cosmic superhero movie will see him portray Druig, an immortal alien with an array of abilities including superhuman speed, accelerated healing and teleportation. Starring alongside Keoghan include names such Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Salma Hayek, Kit Harrington and Gemma Chan.
It’s quite safe to say that Barry Keoghan will soon be a name that’s familiar. It has been a manic two years and by the looks of it, it’s only the beginning.
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