Rathowen native hopes new movie makes cut for Galway

A native of Rathowen has a busy phase of her acting career ahead once the Covid-19 crisis lifts and the film world starts rolling again.

Marie Devine is starring in a short film, Beach Baby, which has been submitted for entry to the Galway Film Fleadh in July. Meanwhile, she has also been hired to perform stunt work on the set of the forthcoming Ridley Scott-directed movie The Last Duel, which is being filmed in Ireland.

A daughter of Michael and Josephine Devine, Rathowen, and a former student of Loreto College, Mullingar, Marie features alongside her partner Shane Brohan in Beach Baby, a 40-minute film directed by Matthew Killen which tells the story of a couple adjusting to life-changing news.

As she awaited word on whether the film will feature in Galway, she auditioned for a stunt role in The Last Duel, and got word that she was accepted shortly before the coronavirus outbreak brought the movie industry to a sudden halt. The movie, which tells the story of a trial by combat in medieval France, stars Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer and Ben Affleck.

Marie had a grá for performing arts from a young age, but arrived in the film industry via a circuitous route.

Growing up in Rathowen, she played football for Clann Gaels and later St Loman’s, Mullingar, and almost went down the road of a career in physiotherapy.

“Looking at my CAO form, I really wanted to do a course in performing arts,” Marie told the Westmeath Examiner. “But I had been advised to go down the academic route, and I ended up studying science, health and physical activity in Dundalk IT, with a view to going into physiotherapy.

“I changed my mind during the degree though, and thought I’d give a career in medicine a go.”

After leaving Dundalk, Marie started a job in the quality department at Mergon, Castlepollard, working full time, making loads of friends and working in a hectic but highly professional role.

In the background, she made several applications to Irish and British universities seeking a place on a medicine course.

“At any given time there were only 12-15 places available on these courses, and I didn’t get one. I was happy to continue in Mergon, but at the same time, something was niggling away in the background.

“I was 24 or 25 at the time, when it dawned on me.”

Like the call priests or nuns often hear before they embrace the religious life, that niggle was the call of the movie industry – “a vocation”, as Marie calls it.

“You don’t get into movies to be famous or rich. If you did, you simply wouldn’t hack it,” she said. “But it does look after you when you get the work. And you always get the feeling that you’re working in a dream job.”

It was 2016, and Marie sat down with her family and told them her plans. Immediately, she set about finding Irish acting schools.

“I got an audition for the Irish Film Academy in Dublin, where there were 15 places available. I didn’t get an answer straight away, but they came back, and I was in,” Marie recalled.

“All of a sudden, I was leaving Mergon and found myself in a classroom in Dublin sitting with complete strangers. You were suddenly in an atmosphere where you were finding your voice, and grounding yourself in a scene.

“It was surreal, but it took off from there.”

Marie was lucky to meet “plenty of good people” in the Irish Film Academy, which is now based in Cork. She worked with Peter O’Byrne, a teacher from the Gaiety School, and Jay Cosgrave, a tutor in stage combat techniques.

“Meeting Jay put me in touch with a lot of stunt work professionals, and from there I got into stage combat and stunt training,” Marie continued. “I started training in January 2017, and today I’m a member of Team Total Stunts.”

This led to her audition for The Last Duel, filming for which resumes when, hopefully, the current public health crisis ends.

In the meantime, Marie has also been immersed in a number of other projects.

Last year, she was cast in Three Brothers Two, a short film written and directed by Killucan man Craig Moore.

In the film, Marie plays the role of Áine, a young woman trying to keep her boyfriend grounded after his brother’s death by drug overdose leads him down a dark path.

“It was a beautiful story to be a part of,” she explained. “Craig is extremely talented and the film will be hitting the festival circuit this year.”

She hopes that the same will be said of Beach Baby, another emotionally-charged short film which finished production recently.

Marie met up and coming director Matthew Killen through her boyfriend, Shane Brohan, who had already been cast in one of the lead roles (‘Ethan’). Marie was then cast as Shane’s on-screen girlfriend (‘Chloe’).

“People say to me that it must be so easy to play a role as your real life boyfriend’s on-screen girlfriend, but it’s actually a lot harder than it looks!” Marie said.

“The story of Beach Baby is one grounded in real life, how life is passing by as normal for a young couple and then everything changes.

“Ethan is diagnosed with cancer, and then Chloe has an unexpected pregnancy, so the film is about them navigating through that.”

The movie was shot over the course of a week with a small cast and crew, and Marie admits she didn’t expect it to be the project it turned out to be.

“There was a very sombre tone throughout the week, with such a sense of respect for the subject matter. Hopefully, we honoured somebody’s story.”

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