Killing Bono Interview
Killing Bono Interview
Ben and Robert, the appeal is evident going in but there are a lot of challenges. How musically proficient were you? Ben, you also had an accent to conquer ...

Robert Sheehan

And we had to wear those clothes!

Robert Sheehan

How best to rock those dungarees! They were all hired, all those things – the whole gay genie look, the whole new romantic stuff, the mental fortune teller thing. I loved all that, man ... all that mascara, hats, you know what I mean.

Ben Barnes

We’d be egging each other on, saying: “You need another earring.” But he’d be like: “No, you should have some black lipstick!” It got to the point where we actually looked like ladies!

Robert Sheehan

I also had to say to Lorna [Marie Mugan, costume designer]: “Now come on, that’s enough!”

But the challenges for me lay in laying down a somewhat respectable vocal and playing the guitar to a good kind of quality. I was very much made to look good because there was a guy called Joe Echo who devised a lot of the music and a lot of the very skilful, cool guitar solos you see me doing ... I’m just kind of pretending to play. At the end of the day, what you hear when we’re good and when you think these guys could be rock stars, that’s not me playing. The challenge was to look really good and look like I know what I’m doing with a guitar.
Ben, did it help there were two of you there egging each other on when needed, but also supporting each other?

Ben Barnes

Particularly with the accent for me. I made a decision to stay in the accent from the minute I landed in Belfast to the minute we finished filming, which was very confusing on the phone to my mum and in the pub sometimes. But I figured if I just spent all my time with Robert and tried to make myself sound as much like him as possible then the Irish would kind of come secondarily.

Robert Sheehan

And it’s quite a daunting thing being in Belfast and staying in a Dublin accent.

Ben Barnes

Yeah, that’s the most confusing thing you can possibly do ... it’s like trying to do a South African accent in Australia. It’s just so far from what is helpful.
It got to the point where we actually looked like ladies...
Ben, had you thought about the irony of the fact that in real life you almost did have a taste of rock stardom [in a failed Eurovision Song Contest bid]?

Ben Barnes

It’s good that I’ve had that experience, because it’s a cringe-worthy experience that I could draw on for the moments of failure in the film. I’ve done a lot more music projects in my life that I’m proud of. I think seven people saw it at the time and the next morning I rang up and said I couldn’t do it because it was too embarrassing and awful. I knew it was terrible when I was doing it. I used to do Sinatra tribute concerts at school and I did sort of function things after I left school ... graduation balls and things, singing rock and soul and all kinds of stuff like that. I’ve also been in musicals and sung in choirs and so I think there was a point when I was about 17 where I wanted to be Stevie Wonder, so I related to the kind of Commitments-esque struggle of the story. Obviously, it was written by the same writers [Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais] and it was one of the things that kind of attracted me to it in the first place – it felt like The Commitments' cheeky little brother, really.
Neil, has Bono seen the film and what are his thoughts?

Neil McCormick

Yeah, he has seen the film. He’s been very supportive throughout the process. I spoke to him before I even started writing the book in the first place because I felt I didn’t want to tread on his toes. I told him the first line, which was all I had at that moment, which was: “I always knew I’d be famous.” At which point he fell about the place laughing and I got quite annoyed with him because I was saying: “I could have been!” But he was very supportive and he said it was the first time that he saw himself in print and recognised himself, because I knew him before he became this iconic figure that bestrides the world and is like a cartoon of a cartoon ... People have an idea of what Bono is, but he’s a really good human being who has always been full of life, curiosity and a lot more humility than sometimes comes across in the way he is presented. So, I wanted to capture his humour and humanity in the book. And that, I think, gets caught in the film as well.

So, they saw the movie and they thought it was hilarious, especially those early scenes which are our childhood memories that aren’t there to be seen again in any other way. You know, every part of U2’s journey is marked out and caught on video, except for these early days and now they’ve been caught on film and we can all have a good laugh about Adam’s haircut. That was funny in 1977 and it’s still funny today. So, they’ve liked it and they’ve given it their blessing. They’re not standing in front of it and I think that’s good because it shows them from a different perspective, which is my perspective, which is that – actually – whatever people say and think about this idea of Bono, he is a good guy doing good stuff and, it turns out, a much better rock star than I ever would have been.
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Content updated: 25/06/2019 16:48

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