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In the Land of Saints and Sinners Director on Liam Neeson and Kerry Condon

In the Land of Saints and Sinners Director on Liam Neeson and Kerry Condon

In the Land of Saints and Sinners is very beautiful for a thriller. A lot of that is thanks to the gorgeous Irish coastland where the film is set, and the way director Robert Lorenz films it. Lorenz was most famous for producing Clint Eastwood’s output over the past 25 years, but has come into his own as a director with films like Trouble with the Curve and The Marksman. That latter film starred Liam Neeson, who reunites with Lorenz in this new film about a hitman who becomes the target of a radical faction of the I.R.A. in Northern Ireland circa 1974.

Lorenz spoke with MovieWeb about making the film and the importance of its Irish cast and crew, and discussed the greatness of Kerry Condon and Liam Neeson.

Robert Lorenz: An American in Ireland

It’s a little odd to think of such an Irish film being directed by an American, and Lorenz was aware of that. “I had to embrace the idea, that as an outsider, I could interpret the story and share it with as many people as possible,” explained Lorenz. “I think if someone in Ireland, obviously, had told the story they would have told it differently, and there would have been sort of a familiarity with the material that they might have skipped over some context that a wider audience would appreciate.” He elaborated:

“But that having been said,
I was really intent on making it as authentic and realistic as possible, which is why I did cast only Irish actors, and I hired an almost entirely Irish crew
. And I was intent on going to Ireland and filming specifically in that place where the writer had written the story to take place. I spoke to him after I first read it and I asked him why, he told me he had been traveling and when he was there he was inspired. So when I got to Ireland, I said, ‘That’s where I want to go first and see.'”

“And sure enough,” continued Lorenz, “I could immediately appreciate the epic beauty of that place and the timelessness of it, because it’s really remote and hasn’t been invaded by modern society, and you felt like you were back in the ’70s. So I was really intent on filming work there.”

Casting Kerry Condon and Liam Neeson

The importance of casting is one of many things Lorenz learned from Clint Eastwood, but perhaps the most significant. “You know, it all comes down to casting,” said Lorenz. Kerry Condon is such a fun and vibrant person in real life, and evokes so much empathy in films like The Banshees of Inisherin and This Must Be the Place, but in this film, she’s downright intimidating and wicked. Lorenz explained that Condon was perfect for the role:

“There were other folks in the mix for this part, but
Kerry was the person that I really wanted, because I’ve seen that fire in her before and I wanted to be sure that that came out
. So we didn’t have to talk about it very much. She was concerned at times on set, you know, ‘Is it too much?’ And she didn’t want to go over the top, and I was like, ‘No, I love it. Keep it going.’ I wanted to believe that this person was tough enough to be a foe to Liam Neeson, who is such a larger than life, tall, intimidating figure, so you had to believe that she was a threat to him.”

So she needed to be tough and a little bit edgy, maybe a little crazy even, even though she feels completely justified in her cause and what she’s doing and that’s what drives her and that’s what drives each of these characters,” concluded Lorenz. “They each have their own personal code that they live by. And that’s what creates the conflict, and that’s what I loved about the script.”

And then, of course, there’s Liam Neeson. The actor brings his action bona fides but with a soulful, tired twist. “He’s just such a terrific actor. I wanted to take advantage of that in every way I could and make what’s up on-screen, that character, as human as possible,” said Lorenz. “And so I was happy to get it out of him. He always gives a good performance. I think it’s a question of, do the directors use it, do they cut it into the film?” He went on:

I was eager to put it all up there, because he is charming. He is funny, he is. He can be obviously very serious and tough, but he can be all those things and like any human being, and that’s what I wanted the movie to capture. I wanted you to care about him and care about each of these people enough that you bought into the story and you got lost in this world.

You can get lost in this world on March 29, 2024, when In the Land of Saints and Sinners hits select theaters from Samuel Goldwyn Films. You can find the trailer below:

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