10 Actors to Watch: Barry Keoghan Pulls Double Duty with ‘Dunkirk’ and ‘Sacred Deer’

Barry Keoghan Variety 10 Actors to Watch
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Barry Keoghan is one of Variety‘s 10 Actors to Watch for 2017. For the full list, click here.

Keoghan stood out in the strong ensemble of Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” as George, the doomed young lad who sails with Mark Rylance’s kind boat captain. If you were taken in by his gentle sweetness in that film, prepare to be jarred by his icy performance as Martin, a teenager who terrorizes Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman in “The Killing of a Sacred Deer.” Muses the 24-year-old: “Everyone seems to hate me or think I’m evil. I guess that means I did my job.”

Keoghan still lives in Dublin, where he and his brother were raised by his grandmother after years in foster care. His big break came in 2013 on the hit Irish series “Love/Hate” — in his first episode, his character gunned down a cat. After seeing Yorgos Lanthimos’ dark comedy “The Lobster,” he added the Greek filmmaker to a running list of directors he wanted to work with. They include fellow Irishman Lenny Abrahamson (“Room”) and Chris McKay (the upcoming “Nightwing”). So when he had the opportunity to audition for Lanthimos, he was thrilled. He sent in a tape from the “Dunkirk” set and was soon meeting in London for the audition. And while some may find Martin terrifying, Keoghan found it appealing that he was no mere monster. He notes, “The trick to playing someone like that is you have to believe everything you’re doing is for the right reason and have no judgment on them.”

Up next, Keoghan will be seen with Jim Broadbent and Stephen Rea in “Black 47” and in the crime drama “American Animals.” Outside Hollywood, he’s busy boxing. Asked if he worries it could affect his face, he says: “It makes it more interesting, I think. Gives you that edge. It might make me better looking, we’ll see.”

Influences: His grandmother, Paul Newman, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy
Representation: Agency: WME, Troika (London) MaFarlane Chard (Ireland); Management: Management 360