Liam Neeson has revealed that he is to co-produce a film based on the life of an IRA sniper.
The film will be an adaptation of the novel ‘A Mad and Wonderful Thing‘ by Mark Mulholland. It focuses on the life of Johnny Donnelly, an IRA sniper during the Troubles.
Johnny is a charming and charismatic man and during the course of the story he falls in love with a ‘mad and wonderful thing’ – a woman named Cara.
Neeson is a big fan of the book. When it was first published, the Irish actor said: “I thought it excellent. Deeply satisfying and moving. I also think that sufficient time has passed since the Good Friday Agreement to, at last, have a novel that goes inside the head of one of the ‘Troubles’ protagonists and hear the pros and cons of the conflict (to take up arms or not) told in an original and exciting way. All Mark’s hard work has paid off. Ireland has a new and exciting voice.”
The younger brother of author Mark Mulholland was a member of the Real IRA. He was a theoretical physics student at Queen’s University Belfast but was arrested in 1999 and charged with conspiracy to cause explosions in London. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison.
Mulholland told the Irish Times: “When I wrote the opening scene, in 1991, I invented Johnny Donnelly. Then my brother actually became a Johnny Donnelly. Not really, but kind of. He caught me blindsided. So there you go. What does anybody know about anybody? Brilliant student, 19 years of age, has the world at his feet.”
Now the novel is to be made into a film – co-produced by Liam Neeson and filmed by Parallel Films.
Mulholland’s agent Laura Susijn said: “It is solid, negotiations are finished but it’s really early days, it’s really exciting. Liam Neeson is on board as a co-producer and Alan Moloney (of Parallel Films) is someone who makes extremely good films.”
Mulholland said: “It was Liam who did the running on this and made the thing happen. And it was Liam that approached and encouraged Parallel Films to go for it. Liam has been loyal and supportive to the work from the start and he has also made some wonderful comments. Liam, because of who he is, brings assurance of a big production and a guarantee of attention.
“This will be Liam’s first film to include a role behind the camera. Some months ago I suggested to Liam that he may like to make the film himself. Madly enough, he said yes. Well, what he actually said was: ‘I don’t have a production company; never had. And I’ve no desire to direct or to produce really. However, I will make an exception for A Mad and Wonderful Thing.’ Well, how mad is that?”
The novel ‘A Mad and Wonderful Thing’ was published in 2014 and received rave reviews. It also saw Mulholland compared to another great Irish writer – Roddy Doyle.