When Kerry Condon received her first Oscar nomination for The Banshees of Inisherin, she said it was "a dream come true." That's not hyperbole: As a young girl growing up in the country town of Tipperary in Ireland, she always knew she wanted to be an actress, and by the time she was 10 years old, was writing letters to directors and agents hoping to get her big break. Despite being halfway around the world, Condon dreamt of making it to Hollywood, and specifically to the Academy Awards.
"I've watched the Oscars since I was a child. I remember Anna Paquin winning. I remember The Lion King winning. There was a year where they danced for The Little Mermaid. There are so many moments from the Oscars that I remember. It was such a big deal in our house," she says now. "Honestly, I kind of just find myself laughing, because I can't believe it. This is just madness altogether."
At the age of 18, Condon landed a fortuitous role in the Royal Shakespeare Company production of The Lieutenant of Inishmore by Martin McDonagh. Over the years, Condon has appeared in films like 2003's Ned Kelly, as the younger sister of Heath Ledger's outlaw, and 2011's Paolo Sorrentino-directed comedy-drama, This Must Be the Place. She has also lent her Irish brogue to Iron Man's A.I., named F.R.I.D.A.Y., in a handful of Marvel movies.
Some fifteen years after their first collaboration, Condon and McDonagh reunited when he cast her in a small role in 2017's Oscar-winning Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and then, again for The Banshees of Inisherin, in which she stars as the long-suffering sister of Colin Farrell's character. At the 95th Oscars, she is up for Best Supporting Actress.
"I am so, so thrilled," says the actress. "It's something I've wanted my whole life."
Below, Condon shares with A.frame five films that had the biggest influence on her.
"I got my whole family involved in our WhatsApp group going, 'Lads, I need help picking my films,'" she chuckles. "Everyone was threatening to go down memory lane of all the films we've seen over the years."
Directed by: Nancy Savoca | Written by: Bob Comfort
I don't know if a lot of people have seen Dogfight, but it had a massive impact on me. I saw it when I was very young — very when I wanted to be an actress kind of age. The reason it had such a big impact on me, particularly as an actress, is because Lili Taylor's character in that movie is supposed to be an ugly girl. I hate saying the word 'ugly.' I actually don't even think there's such a thing as ugly. But for the sake of me trying to explain this, it's about a bunch of fellas who are about to go off to Vietnam, and they have this night on the town where they have a competition of who can bring the ugliest girl out that night. They all go off trying to find the ugliest girl, and River Phoenix can't find anyone. And he finds this one girl, and it's Lili Taylor.
There's a scene where Lili Taylor, she can't believe that he's asking her out on a date. She's really naive and gentle. When she's getting ready, she can't pick what to wear, and then she over-dresses. And when she comes down the stairs... Oh my God, when I think about it, still to this day, it makes me want to cry. She comes down the stairs and she thinks she looks pretty, but she actually doesn't. And he says under his breath, 'Oh, Jesus.' And it was really important for me, because I remember thinking, 'As an actress, if you put aside your own vanity and your own wanting to look attractive, you can be so many more interesting characters.' That can't have been easy to play that part. But Lili Taylor was so moving and so brilliant that it made me go, 'I don't want to be the actress that is just trying to look attractive. I want to be a person who's evoking feelings. That way, it would resonate with lots of women.'
There's also a beautiful scene with River Phoenix, where he's watching her playing the piano and singing and he's smoking a cigarette. He basically has no lines, and it's him realizing that she's actually a really sweet girl and he don't want to hurt her. The two of them are so brilliant in that movie. And then, there's the Bob Dylan song, 'Don't Think Twice, It's All Right,' that plays in the morning when he leaves after they have this beautiful night together. Because, obviously, River Phoenix starts to realize that she's deep as a person. She's a really beautiful, kind person. Oh, it's so romantic. It's so beautiful. I'm going to start crying.
Directed by: Joe Roth | Written by: Mike Binder
Coupe de Ville is another movie that not a lot of people have seen that I love. Alan Arkin's the dad, and he has these three sons who haven't seen each other in years. But he gets them all together and they have to drive a car across the country for their mother's birthday on this road trip. To this day, I can remember so many lines from that movie. The dad's on the phone, and Alan Arkin's like, 'I'm calling long distance, for Christ's sake!' Or a man's like, 'Don't tell me when to hate you, Marvin. I hate you all the f*****g time!' There's so many lines in it. It's a brilliant movie.
And I really love it because it's three sons, and their dynamic was very similar to me and my sisters. Daniel Stern is the oldest one, who's the boss and in charge. He's this militant guy, which is a little bit like my older sister. And then, there's the guy who's like the peacemaker, that was me. And then, Patrick Dempsey is like the golden boy, and that was like my other sister. It's a really, really great movie that not a lot of people have seen.
Written and directed and by: Alan Parker
Bugsy Malone was a really important one for me, because Alan Parker actually gave me my very first job when I didn't have an agent, when I didn't have anything. He gave me my start. I remember when I saw the movie, I was a fan of Jodie Foster because I'd seen Candleshoe. And it's all kids. There are no adults in the movie. All the kids play all these adult parts, and there's music in it and there's singing, and the guns they shoot shoot, like, cream pies. It's so original and brilliant.
But I remember thinking, 'Oh my God, this man casts kids and unknown kids. He's my ticket!' And after I saw that movie, I wrote to Alan Parker saying, 'Please cast me in one of your movies. I'm a child, and you like children in movies, so why not cast me?' I remember there was one actress in it, she played the Blousey Brown part, and I was always like, 'I would've been better than Blousey Brown!' I was livid that she got the part over me, because I thought I could've done a better job than her. I was a little bit demented when I was younger, to be honest.
Written and directed by: Jane Campion
The Piano was a massive influence on me for a billion reasons. Obviously, Holly Hunter having no lines and everything. Strangely enough, I was quite young, but I understood why she was in love with the Harvey Keitel character. I understood, and I also loved the Harvey Keitel character, and Harvey Keitel as an actor too. He's quite a brave actor in that physically, and I found that really amazing. And then, I was the age of Anna Paquin, so that was another one where demented me was like, 'Goddamn it, how did Anna Paquin get this part and I didn't?' When she won the Oscar for it, I was like, 'I can't take it anymore!' It was a beautiful movie and it's stood the test of time, for sure.
Directed by: Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff | Written by: Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts and Linda Woolverton
There's so many reasons why The Lion King was massive for me. Years ago, when I was really young, I called up the radio station one day, because they were saying on the radio that people from the country are different from people from the city. I rang up going, 'Oh shut up, people from the city. You think you're so great and you're not.' The radio station rang me back and they were like, 'You're great! Do you want to review a movie for us? Do you want to do a job for us?' I was 10 or something at the time, and they were like, 'We'll pay you to go see The Lion King, and you'll come to Dublin, and come into the studio and review the movie for us.'
So, The Lion King was my first paid gig. I remember the fact that I didn't have to pay for my cinema ticket, I felt like I'd made it. And then, I went up to Dublin and reviewed it on the radio station, and my review was pretty much, 'I thought it was excellent. I thought it was really good. I thought it was brilliant.' That was my review.
Also, I'm a big animal person, and I'm not joking you, to this day if I hear 'The Circle of Life,' I start crying. So, I love The Lion King. I think it's so beautiful, and I love all things animals. I just love that movie so much.