Quinn plans to attend the 9th annual Magners Irish Film Festival in Boston to pick up his 2007 Excellence Award, as well as take in a screening of his acclaimed big-screen drama, “Song for a Raggy Boy” and participate in a Q&A session about his years in film and television.
So, is Quinn excited to be held up as the paradigm for all that is good about Irish actors and films?
“You know what? I haven’t had time to really think about that,” Quinn told the Irish Echo on Monday. “I’m just so busy doing things in my life, I haven’t even thought about it yet.”
Quinn says having people pay tribute to his career in this manner wasn’t something he ever really courted.
“I’ll be perfectly honest with you, I really don’t have any interest… I think I’m too young for these awards,” he explained. “The idea was floated to me when my sister’s film, ’32A,’ was going to be part of the festival. So, that’s why I did it. I thought, ‘OK, I’ll help Marian’s film.’ Then, somehow, in the politics in how these distribution companies work and selling agents work, somehow now that’s not at the festival.”
One of four Quinn children raised Catholic in Illinois and Ireland, Quinn trained at the Piven Theatre Workshop in Evanston, Ill., before going on to star in Hollywood romances like “Desperately Seeking Susan,” “Benny and Joon” and “Practical Magic,” historical epics such as “Michael Collins,” “Legends of the Fall” and “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” and dramas like “Evelyn,” “This is My Father” and “In Dreams.”
Although initially reluctant to be object of all this attention, Quinn admits having his work showcased in a retrospective at the film festival has forced him to look backwards, evaluate his career and revisit some magic screen moments.
“I’ve been talking to (festival director) Peter (Flynn,) about some of the stuff he wants to include,” Quinn said. “It does make you think. I’ll have a brief conversation with Peter while I’m working – I’ve been working on this series (‘Canterbury’s Law) – and then I’ll think: ‘Wait a minute! What about that film? I forgot all about that film!’ And then I’ll remember: ‘Hey, that’s a great scene! Take a look at this scene and see what you think, Peter!’ And, so, I’ve been finding a lot of work that I’m quite proud of, so that’s been interesting.”
The actor says he is excited to chat with the public during the festival’s Q&A session.
“I actually like that best of all, rather than giving a speech, which I don’t know what to say,” he confided. “I’d much rather see what the audience is interested in asking and then that brings up stories spontaneously.”
Quinn is also pleased the festival organizers decided to include in its lineup a screening of his 2003 drama, “Song for a Raggy Boy,” which is set in 1939 at St. Judes Reformatory School for boys in Ireland.
“I’m always excited when they screen that because it always gets such a phenomenal reaction,” he said. “However, the people that are screening it are not the people buying films, unfortunately. We worked so hard on it, and (director) Aisling Walsh did such a beautiful job. And the kids, the young actors were so remarkable in it. Most of them were non-actors found in boxing clubs up in Derry, Belfast and places like that. It’s just a damn shame that film has not been released in America.”
Quinn says the movie’s story and the part he played in it are particularly close to his heart.
“I love that film,” he said. “My dad was a teacher, so it is a homage to teachers, the good ones, and I went to a Christian Brothers school, too, in Ireland for a number of years… So, yeah, I particularly like the heart of that film.”
Quinn will soon be seen in the Fox mid-season replacement, “Canterbury’s Law,” playing a married law professor trying to recover from the loss of his son. Julianna Margulies plays his defense attorney wife in the series, which is executive produced by Denis Leary, Jim Serpico, Walon Green and Mike Figgis.
The 9th annual Magners Irish Film Festival is slated to run Nov. 8-11. For more information, please visit www.irishfilmfestival.com