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On Frank of Ireland, a ribald Irish sitcom that bows on Amazon Prime Video Friday, Brian Gleeson (Phantom Thread) plays a feckless and egomaniacal singer-songwriter named Frank who lives with his mother, Mary (Pom Boyd). The actor's real-life brother, Domhnall Gleeson (the Star Wars franchise), plays Frank's sidekick — the appropriately named Doofus. "Frank is like a 13-year-old boy in a 33-year-old's body and Doofus is like a 9-year-old," says Domhnall who co-wrote the show with Brian and Michael Moloney.
Below, the brothers talk more about Frank of Ireland — and not pooping into a bag.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did the show come about?
BRIAN GLEESON: We'd done a couple of shorts that Domhnall had directed and I was interested in doing a show like Curb Your Enthusiasm and putting that into an Irish context. Domhnall had been working with Michael Moloney, our co-writer, on different things. We got in a room and started chatting and it happened organically out of that.
Brian, you play the titular Frank. Tell us about your character.
DOMHNALL GLEESON: Hang on a second, Brian's getting two [questions] in a row?
To be honest, Domhnall, I've just got two questions for Brian, and then I've got 28 questions for you. Is that okay?
DG: That is what I was hoping for. Take it away Brian.
I'm not even recording this part.
DG: Good, good, good, as requested. That's great.
Sorry, Brian, do go on.
BG: Okay, let me have a crack at this. Frank, we thought of as a teenage boy with a temper basically. Maybe we were reaching back into our own childhoods in some sense. He's a man who is suffering from a severe case of arrested development and he lives at home with his Mam. The whole story's about him trying and failing to move on, I suppose.
Domhnall, tell us about Doofus.
DG: Doofus looks up to Frank. When I was a kid, you had older cousins or older kids in school that you just thought were the coolest people in the world. Like, the guys in Oasis were cool, and your older cousins were exactly as cool as that. That's the way Doofus sees Frank. But it's a relationship that is probably holding them both back. Doofus feeds Frank's ego by telling him he's great all the time and Frank holds Doofus back by keeping him in his place all the time. But he's a very sweet-tempered guy, for the most part.
Merman Productions/Amazon Studios
The show references films, including Taxi Driver, Memento, and 12 Angry Men. What was the idea behind that?
DG: Frank compares himself to these other heroes in cinema, despite the fact that he does nothing to earn that title. The most fun we had was with the episode where Frank has written the music for a Few Good Men musical rather than 12 Angry Men, because he's confused.
Is there anything in the show which is taken directly from your lives?
DG: No. Happily, I think everything's basically made-up. But I think there's a level of looking at yourself. I mean, everyone thinks that their life is a struggle. And then obviously the world that Frank comes from, this middle-class suburb of Dublin, we're familiar with. So, there are elements of the world that are familiar but not the characters hopefully. Brian, is that true or am I trying to save myself?
BG: The one thing that definitely isn't from our childhoods is the bag of poo at the door, I can say that. One that definitely isn't true is pooping into a bag and presenting it to a man. That didn't happen.
Domhnall, I'm assuming this is the second part of a trilogy, given you also starred in the 2014 film Frank. How do you plan on winding this up?
DG: [Laughs] It's funny. It only really struck me afterward. I had made the two shorts with Brian before, in which he played characters, and one of the characters was called Frank. So that's where the name had originally come from. I realized during the edit [of the show] that I'd been in a film called Frank, which involves music in it as well. It was like holy hell, how did I not see that before? I don't know. I'm open to any offers with anything to do with the name Frank, basically.
Your father, actor Brendan Gleeson, appears in the last episode as an old lover of Mary's who looks suspiciously similar to Frank. What was shooting that like?
BG: He arrived out of the trailer and he had his hair parted like Frank and his beard done a little like Frank. It was utterly bizarre and we laughed a huge amount.
Exclusively watch a clip from Frank of Ireland above.