Irish funnyman Chris O’Dowd values how the musical film The Sapphires, in which he stars, is bringing attention to a dark chapter in Australia’s history.
“The Stolen Generations” — thousands of young Aboriginal children forcibly extracted from their families by government agencies up until the late 1960s — are part of the film’s story.
In commenting on the film, O’Dowd says: “It is telling a story that hasn’t been told in the specifics. That stolen generation, which people just don’t really know about, it’s essentially like ethnic cleansing where this Aboriginal community was nearly wiped out at the hands of a brutal oppressor.”
But The Sapphires isn’t a heavy, preachy picture: it’s exuberant, focusing on an Australian Aboriginal girl group that ended up going to Vietnam in 1968 to entertain U.S. troops. O’Dowd sees it as, “trying to tell a story of suppression and oppression in a very joyous way.”
The Irish actor is busily engaged in a number of different projects, both in film and television. One of his big forthcoming small-screen endeavors is his appearance in a BBC/HBO drama series called Family Tree, a mockumentary from the master of that art form, Christopher Guest.
O’Dowd portrays a man who goes on a quest: “I play a guy who’s lost his job and got dumped and is having a bit of an identity crisis and is left a bunch of junk by a dead relative, and he decides to explore his family tree with hilarious consequences,” says the actor.
Also in the cast is British ventriloquist Nina Conti, who plays the sister of O’Dowd’s character.
What’s a bit unusual with this forthcoming TV comedy series, which goes on the air in May, is that it’s improvised and shot with a single camera.
O’Dowd is upbeat: “I watched it for the first time a couple of weeks ago and I think it’s looking really good. I think people are going to enjoy it.”