'It's called acting' - Ciara Kelly dismisses criticism of Eve Hewson

The daughter of U2 frontman Bono plays a single mother in John Carney's new film 'Flora and Son'
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

08.42 5 Oct 2023

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'It's called acting' - Ciara K...

'It's called acting' - Ciara Kelly dismisses criticism of Eve Hewson

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

08.42 5 Oct 2023

Share this article

Criticism of actress Eve Hewson playing a working-class mother wouldn't happen if it was Barry Keoghan playing somebody wealthy.

Newstalk Breakfast presenter Ciara Kelly was responding to criticism of the daughter of U2 frontman Bono who plays a single mother in John Carney's new film Flora and Son.

A lack of interest in a guitar she gives to her son (Orén Kinlan) for his birthday leads her to give it a go herself, and seek out online lessons from LA-based teacher Jack (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt).


The Apple TV film was released last week.

Actor and comedian Joseph McGucken has claimed the film is 'borderline offensive', labelling the portrayals as a 'shocking, out-dated' and 'out of touch'.

Ciara said the criticism would not be the same if the roles were reversed.

"This kind of criticism irks me entirely - it's called acting for a reason," she said.

"It's supposed to be talent, not where you're from and you're lived experience, even though I know lots of people want to kind of claim that.

"I don't think people would criticise Barry Keoghan if he was playing somebody posh and wealthy, I don't think we would see this in reverse.

"This purely goes one way."

'Quite authoritarian'

Ciara said people soon will only be able to act their own lived experience.

"Are we saying only trans actors should play trans roles, or only Jewish actors should play Jewish roles?" she said.

"What we're saying here is actually quite authoritarian; we're talking about restricting people's imagination, restricting people's talents.

"It makes me laugh because it made me think of Daniel Day-Lewis: he won an Oscar for My Left Foot - he'd be pillaried for it now.

"Should male writers not write female characters? How much in your own road do you need to stay?"

'A couple of tropes in there'

Host Shane Coleman praised the film and its actors.

"I think Eve Hewson is brilliant in it," he said.

"I think she's really charismatic, I think it's a really brilliant portrayal of the pressures that a young single mother in a working-class area faces.

"Is her accent absolutely perfect at all times? No it probably isn't, but to be honest I don't think I would have even noticed that if it wasn't for all the controversy about it."

Shane said suggestions depictions of working-class people are out of date are unfounded.

"There are definitely a couple of tropes in there, maybe a couple of lazy characterisations," he said.

"The main character smokes a lot, she drinks, she uses foul language.

"Some people would say that's lazy characterisations, other people would say that's just real life.

"I don't think it's a negative portrayal of working-class life in Dublin," he added.

Main image: Split-screen shows Eve Hewson in Flora and Son, and Newstalk Breakfast host Ciara Kelly. Image: Apple TV/Newstalk

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Apple TV Barry Keoghan Ciara Kelly Daniel Day-Lewis Eve Hewson Flora And Son Joseph Gordon-Levitt Joseph McGucken Newstalk Breakfast Orén Kinlan

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