At the movies

‘Bridesmaids’ star moves to ‘Sapphires’

 

While making his latest film, The Sapphires, Chris O’Dowd noticed a common thread between the indigenous Australian community and his own Irish heritage.

“I was really surprised by how similar Aboriginals and Irish people are, like in their mentality, particularly coming from that time,” the 33-year-old actor said, noting the Aboriginals and the Irish were fighting against oppression in their native lands.

In the film, based on a true story, O’Dowd plays manager to four young Aboriginal girls in a singing group called The Sapphires who are looking to secure a gig in Vietnam during the height of the war. But first he needs to get local audiences to look beyond the color of their skin.

“I think it’s why the character as an Irish guy works quite well, because we’re all part of the same team,” said O’Dowd, who played a police officer in Bridesmaids.

Aborigines are only 2.3 percent of Australia’s 23 million people but are the poorest, tend to die a decade younger than other Australians and have higher rates of disease, joblessness and imprisonment. In 2008, the nation’s prime minister issued a historic apology to Aborigines for the racial discrimination and injustices they endured for more than 200 years.

The film is set during a time when mainly mixed-race Aboriginal children were routinely taken from their families by the government and placed with white families to assimilate them to white Australian culture. The practice lasted from 1910 until the 1970s, creating what became known as the “Stolen Generations.”

“To be honest I knew very little about the stolen generation. You know, you get kind of glimpses, little details about the different struggles that oppressed communities have gone through, but this one was really brutal. Essentially, it was an ethnic cleansing. It was only in the ’60s,” O’Dowd said.

While the story takes place during a tumultuous period, O’Dowd sees it as more of a feel-good film.

“Sometimes these kinds of films about oppressed people can be very dour. Even if it’s got a very interesting subject matter, it’s lost because the film is too morbid to enjoy. And what I love about this, is we can do that and make it enjoyable,” he said.

The film has already won numerous awards from around the world, including 11 AACTA Awards, which are the Australian equivalent of the Oscars — O’Dowd won for best lead actor. When it premiered at Cannes last year, it received a lengthy standing ovation.

The Sapphires was co-written by Tony Briggs, whose mother, Laurel Robertson, was an original Sapphires member.

Read more People stories from the Miami Herald

  • La vida local

    Marlon Wayans couldn’t let it rest: he’s back for ‘A Haunted House 2’

    Last time we spoke to Marlon Wayans, he was promoting A Haunted House back in January 2013.

  • Celebrity birthdays on April 17

    Actress Olivia Hussey is 63. Singer-guitarist Pete Shelley of The Buzzcocks is 59. Actor Sean Bean is 55. Actor Joel Murray is 52. Actress Lela Rochon is 50. Actress Leslie Bega is 47. Actress Kimberly Elise is 47. Singer Liz Phair is 47. Rapper-actor Redman is 44. Actress Jennifer Garner is 42. Singer Victoria Beckham of the Spice Girls is 40. Actress Rooney Mara is 29.

  • Celebrity roundup

    Rob Kardashian in treatment

    Rob Kardashian has bigger issues than trying to lose weight. According to Star, the reality brother, 27, is being treated for depression at The Meadows trauma and addiction treatment center in Arizona. Poisons of choice are apparently marijuana, alcohol and prescription cough syrup.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category