The producers of the IRA drama “Fifty Dead Men Walking” have taken the unusual step of distancing themselves from incendiary comments made by the film’s star, Rose McGowan. The actress caused a stir at the Toronto Film Festival last week when she said she would have joined the Irish Republican Army had she lived in Belfast during the Troubles. She said she could understand why people turned to violence during that time in Northern Ireland.
The movie is based on the life of double agent Martin McGartland, who infiltrated the IRA. Jim Sturgess plays McGartland as a young Catholic man in Belfast moving up the ranks of the IRA as he feeds information to his British Special Branch handler (Ben Kingsley). McGowan, whose father is Irish, plays a strong-willed IRA leader.
In a statement sent to The Hollywood Reporter, the producers said they “regret any distress” that McGowan’s comments may have caused “to people of Northern Ireland and particularly those who were victims of or caught up in the shocking events that existed during the conflict.” They added: “Ms. McGowan’s views were private ones, and as such they greatly saddened the film’s producers.”
Her views, said backers HandMade Films International, Future Films and Brightlight Pictures, “are not shared nor endorsed by anybody associated with the production or creative elements of the film.”
Added the film’s Canadian director, Kari Skogland: “Rose’s personal opinions of Northern Ireland do not reflect the perspective of the film in any way. Our goal was to present an even, non-judgmental point of view so the audience could follow the path of an informer with empathy no matter what the politics.”