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Agnes Browne

Remember when Anjelica Huston played Mrs Brown before Brendan O'Carroll did?

Let’s have a little look back on the history of the character.

_93326918_mrs-brown-bbc BBC BBC

IT’S HARD TO imagine a time when Mrs Brown wasn’t Brendan O’Carroll in old lady drag – but the character’s first foray on to the screen actually came in the form of legendary actress Anjelica Huston.

Here’s a little backstory on Mrs Brown: O’Carroll first dreamed her up for a radio play on 2fm in 1992, then expanded the story in a series of books including The Mammy, The Chisellers and The Young Wan.

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In 1999, Huston made her directorial debut with an adaptation of The Mammy (retitled Agnes Browne), also taking on the main role.

The film follows Agnes as she picks up the pieces after the death of her husband, looking after her seven children and trying to find herself again.

The bones of the future Mrs Brown(e) are there  – wait for that baguette bit – but it’s more of a Roddy Doyle-style depiction of Irish life:

UniversalMoviesINTL / YouTube

(Fun fact: O’Carroll and his future wife/Mrs Brown’s Boys co-star Jennifer Gibney have cameos in the film as ‘Seamus the Drunk’ and ‘Winnie the Mackerel’ respectively. Tom Jones also has a pivotal role in it as himself. Really.)

Huston appeared on the Late Late before the release of the film, and told Pat Kenny how she came across the book:

Jim Sheridan – who I’m sure you all know – brought me the book in Los Angeles and proposed that maybe I’d be interested in either acting or directing.
I grew up in the West, in Connemara, so I had that basis [for the character], but the girls on Moore Street were very helpful to us and put us to work in the market for a couple of days.

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The success of the film lead O’Carroll to write more plays featuring Mrs Brown – he ended up stepping into the part himself after the actress he originally hired failed to turn up. The rest, as they say, is history.

For those of you too who might be too young to remember Mrs Brown’s first trip around the block, or who didn’t realise the two characters were even connected, there you go. The more you know!

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