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Dublin: 18 °C Wednesday 12 August, 2020

Hollywood rejected Irish famine film in the 90s because it was 'too heavy'

‘How are you going to lighten it? Feed them?’

HOLLYWOOD FILMS ARE notorious for their happy ending, with many a script changed to make it more palatable for audiences. For example, Disney changed the script of Pretty Women to downplay the drug use and darker realities of life for sex workers in Los Angeles. 

pretty woman Source: Buena Vista Pictures

And according to Irish actor Stephen Rea, they tried to do the same with a movie about the famine in the 1990s.  

68th International Berlin Film Festival - Lola reception Source: DPA/PA Images

Speaking on Today FM Stephen said:

They did try to do one in the 90s.  I was invited to participate and someone in America said, ‘It’s very heavy.  Couldn’t they lighten it?’

Yes, you heard that right – they wanted to ‘lighten’ a famine. 

Stephen and his agent were just as baffled. 

My agent at the time said, ‘how are you going to lighten it?  Feed them?’

We really shouldn’t laugh at that but… 

haha Source: giphy

At the moment Stephen is starring in Black 47, a thriller which is set in the 1840s in Ireland when the Great Famine took place.  

Black 47 is the first ever film to tackle the devastating historic event. 

It’s set to star Irish actress Sarah Greene, Australian actor James Frecheville and Jim Broadbent. 

Berlin - Black 47 Photocall Source: Marechal Aurore/ABACA

James Frecheville stars as a soldier who returns to Ireland after serving in the British Army. He’s confronted with a brutal system of oppression and colonisation which has seen his country and people torn apart by famine. His mother has already starved to death and his brother has been hung. 

After a failed emigration attempt with his sister (Sarah Greene) and her children, something in him snaps and he goes on something of a rampage. 


The film is due to be released in Ireland next week on Wednesday, 5th September.

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