Aidan Gillen: 'Barber' sprouted around 2020 restrictions

Aidan Gillen stars in "Barber." Photo courtesy of Brainstorm Media
1 of 6 | Aidan Gillen stars in "Barber." Photo courtesy of Brainstorm Media

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Aidan Gillen said his new movie, Barber, in theaters Friday, was created impulsively around the restrictions of the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We started off with a very slim, much smaller production -- like four or five people," Gillen, known for his roles as Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish in Game of Thrones and as Thomas Carcetti in The Wire, told UPI in a recent Zoom interview.


Filmed in late 2020, the Irish production does not fall under Screen Actors Guild struck productions.

Val Barber (Gillen) is a private investigator in Dublin hired to find a client's missing granddaughter. His investigation leads into a dark world of child sexual abuse as he meets other young women who knew the missing girl.

Barber's former police colleagues try to steer him off path because they had dismissed the case as a standard teenage runaway. The viewer also learns that Barber is divorced and dealing with his daughter's illness from before the pandemic.


Gillen knew director Fintan Connolly, producer Fiona Bergin and cinematographer Owen McPoin from the 2005 movie Trouble with Sex, said the trio brainstormed the kind of movie they could make under 2020 COVID-19 protocols.

"It was more like sitting around a coffee table or a dinner table," Gillen said. "It happened very fast."

Gillen said they first thought about what genre they were interested in. They agreed they had not seen many detective movies set in Dublin.

Unexpectedly, Gillen said, the film board Film Ireland contributed some funding to Barber because it was one of the few productions mounting during the early pandemic.

"The government film agency was able to give us some euros, not tons, but something to be able to pay people a little, to get a bigger crew and proper post production," Gillen said

In the film, Barber and the people he investigates often wear masks. Gillen said this was not an aesthetic decision.

"We actually shot inside a working hospital at one point, so we had to [wear masks]," Gillen said. "It was what was happening at the time."

In the hospital scenes, Gillen and co-stars also wear plastic face shields to honor a request the cast and crew wear them while filming inside.


"They were so sci-fi looking that when we saw them, we thought, well, we've got to use these," Gillen said. "It was like something from Ridley Scott's Alien."

Gillen, 55, said the cast and crew were excited to leave their homes for work. Foot traffic was still minimal, and Gillen observed wild foxes roaming the streets.

"To get out and shoot something was a real release," Gillen said. "There was great energy."

The enthusiasm extended to the supporting cast. Gillen said a number of Dublin locals were eager to play suspects Barber interviews just for one day.

"They wanted to come out and play which was nice, really nice actually," Gillen said.

Given the impromptu development of Barber, Gillen said he has thought about a sequel. However, he is open to the idea of Barber solving another case.

"Nothing has happened along that front yet but of course it could be done," Gillen said. "That's the thing about the detective TV show or novel."

Barber opened in April in Ireland.

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