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Guarding against sibling rivalry

John Michael McDonagh speaks at Friars Club event

“The Guard” writer-director John Michael McDonagh was all smiles when asked about sibling rivalry with his hugely successful brother Martin (“In Bruges”).

“I’m three years older and when he got his Oscar (for 2005’s “Six Shooter”) I had an ulcer forming in the pit of my stomach. I’m OK now,” the 45-year-old McDonagh joked during Monday’s “Guard” press junket at Sony Classics’ Manhattan headquarters.

Inspiration for teaming Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle in a County Galway-set “buddy cop thriller/ black comedy character study” came from “The Second Death.” That was a 2000 short he’d made “that had the Gerry Boyle figure, an obnoxious cop who will say or do anything, as a peripheral character.”

Cheadle came aboard to play an uptight FBI agent tracking an international drug ring who must work with Gleeson’s Boyle.

“Screwball comedy characters in a Western was my plan and we seemed to get away with it,” McDonagh added.

“I loved it from the beginning,” Cheadle said. “You get scripts and you kind of know what’s going to happen by page 15. Reading this, I couldn’t get ahead of the script. It made me laugh from beginning to end.

“And to shoot in the place it was set, it was a no-brainer. I’d never been to Ireland,” he added. “That specific landscape with hand-built rock walls and all, it was really special. Every moment I wasn’t on set I was on a golf course.”

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