Stan & Ollie star John C. Reilly: The sport of hurling is wild and I love it

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Stan & Ollie star John C. Reilly has revealed he has a passion for the Irish sport of hurling.

The US actor, best known for his roles in films such as Chicago, Wreck-It Ralph, and Talladega Nights, described the sport as “theatrical” and “thrilling”.

The native Gaelic stick and ball game is played by teams of 15 on a rectangular, grass pitch with H-shaped goals at each end.

Reilly, who was recently guest of honour at Dublin’s St Patrick’s Day parade, told the PA news agency: “I’m really a fan of theatre. And when sports becomes theatrical or dramatic, that’s why I tap in, I do love hurling, this game that they play here in Ireland.

St Patrick’s Day Parade – Dublin
John C. Reilly takes part in the St Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

“A lot of people in America haven’t seen it. It’s just a wild sport for us to watch.

“It has the speed of soccer, football, but with a bat and people are running around smacking this baseball around.

“It seems really dangerous and thrilling and high pace, so I love hurling.”

Reilly will next be seen playing playing Jerry Buss, the owner of the LA Lakers basketball team, in the new Sky Atlantic and Now series Winning Time: The Rise Of The Lakers Dynasty.

Directed by Don’t Look Up filmmaker, Adam McKay, the series is a comedy-drama following the professional and personal lives of the 1980s basketball team.

He compared the pressure of taking on the role with that of playing legendary comedian Oliver Hardy in the film Stan and Ollie, in which he starred opposite Steve Coogan.

He said: “I’ve had that pressure before with projects like, for instance, Stan & Ollie.

“Those are two of the most beloved characters in the history of film. And, for me personally, Oliver Hardy is one of my heroes.

Stan & Ollie
John C. Reilly (left) as Oliver Hardy and Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel in Stan & Ollie (Entertainment One)

“So, I’m used to going in and understanding that there’s a lot of weight on my shoulders, and you just have to get through the day and try to be as honest as you can and tell the truth about what that character might be feeling in a moment.

“People who were in Los Angeles in 1979 for this team (the LA Lakers), it’s a whole kind of cult almost. People are really obsessed with what happened with the team who were the beginning of this dynasty. That was what we call it, but it really was the beginning of it.

“But the thing that’s the trickiest for me, is when I think about portraying a real person, is their family is still alive.

“Even though Jerry passed away, Jerry’s family is still alive, they still own the Lakers, and there were many times where I thought, ‘Wow, this would be difficult for me to watch someone portray my father, and in his high moments and his low moments,’ so I had a real sensitivity to that.

“No matter what happened with the character, I tried to present him with dignity, and compassion and truth, as opposed to just trying to tell some sensational, kind of scandalous story about somebody.

“This guy lived through some intense things, and I think the best way to honour him and to honour his family was to tell the truth. You know, because the truth is magnificent. The truth is a miracle.”

Winning Time: The Rise of The Lakers Dynasty is out now on Sky Atlantic and the streaming service Now.

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