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Friday 17 January, 2020
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Irish rugby star Shane Byrne on dodgy Russian accents and trying to kill Mrs Brown

If there is not a joke about the Wicklow native’s former profession as a hooker, we will be extremely disappointed.

Shane Byrne (second left) glowers at Mrs Brown during the film.
Shane Byrne (second left) glowers at Mrs Brown during the film.
Image: Universal

SHANE BYRNE HAS worked on charitable endeavours with Brendan O’Carroll over the past decade so he expected, on a call at the turn of the year, to chat about an upcoming enterprise.

“He rang me out of the blue one day,” Byrne told TheScore.ie, “and said ‘You know there’s a film coming up? Well, I want you to be in it’. Brendan being Brendan, I thought he was taking the mickey.”

The former Leinster and Ireland hooker took some convincing but, on the weekend of Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie’s national release, he has no regrets. Byrne plays the part of Vladimir, a Russian heavy employed to run Agnes Brown [played by O'Carroll] off her Dublin city market stall.

“It’s a sizeable part, but I’ve not too many lines. I’m there a lot, though, standing nearby and looking moody” he says. “Being part of the film industry was a real eye opener. I was involved in the shooting for the best part of a month and it was amazing to see that they shoot all day for just four or five minutes of screen time.

“The sets are famous for having Brendan’s family and friends all there and it was exactly the same, on the film set, as it was on TV. Anyone that came in, independently, to do costume or make-up remarked on how much fun a film it was to work on. I think that comes across in the film.”

SHAY2 Vladimir (Byrne) and Ivan take a shot at Mrs Brown during a pursuit through Dublin. Source: Universal

Byrne is not the only Irish celebrity making an appearance in the film. Joe Duffy, June Rodgers, Eamonn Holmes and Keith Duffy also feature. The city of Dublin is featured so much that it is close to being a character itself. Byrne commented:

Dublin comes across brilliantly in the film. Times have been tough in recent years but you’ll really get to see the good sides of the city. Brendan was determined, too, to shoot the film here and stage the première in Dublin [at the Savoy] despite other cities and locations being mentioned to him.”

Byrne believes O’Carroll’s journey, from airing Mrs Brown’s Boys on the radio some two decades ago to the silverscreen is a remarkable tale of perseverance and, ultimately, success. “Brendan and his family deserve every bit of it. From working with his family and friends, you wouldn’t begrudge them any of the success they are now enjoying.”

He added, “I challenge anybody to go to the film and to not have a laugh.”

Asked if he studied Rocky IV to prepare for his role as Vladimir, Byrne quips, “You’ll be very surprised to hear how close a Russian accent actually is to a Wicklow accent.”

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Patrick McCarry

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