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Movies & TV

04th Apr 2022

EXCLUSIVE: John C. Reilly – “It felt like all of Ireland was hugging me”

Rory Cashin

The actor tells an incredible, emotional story about his time spent in Ireland recently.

In case you missed it, John C. Reilly had an INCREDIBLE time during his trip to Ireland.

On top of being the Grand Marshall for the St. Patrick’s Day parade, he followed that up by appearing on The Late Late Show and joined Kellie Harrington in belting out a rendition of ‘Wild Rover’.

He followed that with a trip around the country, which is where JOE caught up with him, to chat about his new show Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty.

In the show, which is executive produced by Adam McKay (the guy behind Succession and Don’t Look Up… but also the director of Step Brothers and Talladega Nights), Reilly plays real life Lakers owner Jerry Buss during the time when the team had a major turnaround within the NBA, thanks to Buss’ arrival, as well as getting in a new player, Magic Johnson (Quincy Isaiah).

Check out our exclusive interview with John C. Reilly right here:

During our in-depth chat with the actor, we of course had to ask about his time in Ireland, and he gave us this passionate response:

“Honestly, I was pinching myself all week. I just couldn’t believe [it]. I have invested in Ireland, as a person, I come back here a lot. I love Ireland. And what I realised this time – yes, it was good craic and all that – and to be on The Late Late Show, to have the attention of the entire nation like that. You can’t do that in America. There’s no television show in America that gets you 70% of the country watching.

“So it was really special, because I’ve got the ear of the nation here, so what do I wanna say? And I felt like it was a great moment to reflect back what is great about Ireland.

“There is a cynicism here [in America] with all of the Paddy’s stuff, and especially all of the romantic notions that Irish-Americans have about Ireland.

“But so many people have come up to me since that Late Late appearance. That I had the nerve to sing, and that I said things like ‘St. Patrick’s Day is not just about drinking, it is a celebration about Irish culture, and it belittles Ireland to say that it is only about drinking’. That really resonated with people. And as I’ve moved through Ireland after St. Patrick’s Day, so many people came up to me – young, old and in between – saying ‘I really loved what you said. And you’re a beautiful singer!’, and I loved hearing that.

“But more important to me was the fact that people noticed what I said about the importance of Irish culture and poetry and music and literature. And what I realised is that I always thought that I’m Irish-American, I’m from Chicago, and that’s why I love Ireland. But in this time, in this world moment, when we’re looking at the threat to democracy is so many different places, and it’s a real dark moment for some people all over the world, it was a little bit tricky going to do a parade in Ireland when all of that was going on.

“But I made the decision, because joy is an important part of human strength. And we can’t let the darkness of the world extinguish something like the St. Patrick’s Day Festival in Dublin. People really needed that, we needed it. And what I realised in this moment is that Ireland’s DNA has liberation at the centre of it. Liberation. Self-reliance. Freedom. Democracy. You’ve got a great little democracy here.

“So sometimes it takes a cheeky American to say these things, y’know? And I was happy to be that for people.”

He finished off his Irish story with a specific fact about his time meeting the Irish President:

“I got the biggest hug from Michael D. Higgins when I arrived on the bandstand. I said ‘Oh, hello Mr. President’, and I took my cap off and I put my hand out [for a handshake], and he just wrapped me up with a bear hug and squeezed me!

“He’s a great hugger, I’ll say that. I really felt like that whole country was hugging me when Michael Higgins embraced me like that.”

Check out our full exclusive interview with John C. Reilly above, and you can watch the first five episodes (of the ten that the series will consist of, the rest arriving weekly) are available to watch with a NOW Entertainment Membership.

Clip via NOW

Featured Image via Sam Boal /

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