Athboy woman says she is 'proud' to feature in two Oscar nominated films

A woman from Athboy who features in two Oscar nominated films says she is "proud" to be a part of a ground breaking era in Irish cinema.

Mary Jo Needham took part as an extra in The Banshees of Inisherin, the movie starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson that received a record breaking nine Oscar nods earlier this week.

The Athboy woman also had a role in An Cailín Ciúin, an Irish language film that is up for Best International Feature Film at this year's Academy Awards.

"It's amazing being in one Oscar nominated film but two is something spectacular alright!" she said.

"I couldn't believe it when the nominations were called out on Tuesday. It is absolutely fantastic. An Cailín Ciúin was filmed in Meath so there's great excitement around the place and it's great for the country as well."

"I'm really proud to have been involved, if only in a small way."

Mary Jo has only worked as an extra on four films in her life, two of which are up for Academy Awards.

She was one of more than 100 extras cast in the Hollywood blockbuster directed by Martin McDonagh filmed over six week on Achill Island but says she didn't even recognise herself in the scene due to drastic hair and make up work!

Mary Jo, originally from Achill, appears in the famous pub scene as one of the villagers, nodding and clapping along to the trad music session as Colin Farrell's character peers through the window.

However, when the clip was played on the Late Late Show during Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson's appearance as guests ahead of the film's release, Mary Jo did not spot herself alongside the Dublin actor.

Mary Jo Needham was a villager in the Banshees of Inisherin

"I was watching it with my husband when the clip came on and I said I don't know any of the extras there," she said. " I went upstairs then and I came back about a half an hour later and my phone was alive!

"I was in the clip but I actually didn't recognise myself. There were at least three hairdressers around me during that scene with hair spray and all sorts of things, I didn't see myself on the day so it really didn't look like me!"

After finishing filming one night, a number of extras were selected from the bus for a last minute scene just before it left, as Mary Jo explains.

"We were on the bus ready to go home and a guy called Calumn, who was in charge of the extras, came in and picked me and three men and another woman, but I was the only one who appeared in the film.

"The camera was directly on me in the pub, I could feel the heat of it. The music was playing in the background so I felt like there was something up!"

The Athboy resident applied to be an extra on the set for four days and ended up taking part in filming for three weeks, an experience she describes as "fantastic".

"I'm from Achill Island and I go up and down regularly. I saw the ad in the Mayo News and I had been involved in three other movies before and I said, sure lookit, what else am I doing for the summer?

"They gave me a day to get set up with costume and they decked me out with my clothes for the duration, a heavy underskirt and a heavy overskirt and woolly socks. The shoes had been in multiple productions so they were a bit worn!"

"I had no idea how big the movie was going to be. I wasn't expecting it at all. I'm so happy for them because it was such an enjoyable experience being a part of it and they looked after us so well."

For An Cailín Ciúin, Mary Jo didn't have to venture too far as filming was in Trim.

"All the extras met up in Trim Castle on the morning of the shoot, there was a great atmosphere. There was a mobile dressing unit and were kitted out from there.

"The scene I'm in comes straight after the shop scene where the little girl gets new clothes. Carrie Crowley is on the street talking to a lady with a pram and I walk from the left, go behind the camera man and emerge walking to the right and out of picture.

"I've just had a wonderful time that last couple of years getting the chance to work on such fantastic films."

Asked if she thinks she is a good luck charm for productions, as the last two movies she has taken part in were nominated for academy awards, Mary Jo said: "Ah I don't know about that, I was just in the right place at the right time!"