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16th Feb 2023

Barry Keoghan set to star in new Western as infamous outlaw Billy the Kid

A passion project for the actor, he lined up the movie after his recent Oscar nomination.

Irish actor Barry Keoghan is set to play the infamous outlaw Billy the Kid in a new Western film that is being described as a dream project for the actor.

The as-of-yet untitled movie will reteam Keoghan with his American Animals director Bart Layton, with the recent Oscar nominee stating that the film will offer up a new take on the gunfighter.

Billy the Kid was born in New York in 1859 to parents of Irish ancestry, with his birthname being Henry McCarty.

He was orphaned at the age of 15 before becoming wanted for murder at 18 and later being shot and killed by Sheriff Pat Garett at just 21.

Keoghan, who spent seven years in foster care growing up and who lost his mother when he was 12, told Deadline he “felt related” to Billy in a way.

“I remember reading about him as a kid, but as we were digging into the project, there were so many things we discovered about his life,” The Banshees of Inisherin star told the outlet.

“There are so many eyewitness accounts, and lots of different versions of his story that didn’t add up but that contributed to the legend.

“I wanted to step outside of the legend that was built up by the papers and tackle the pressure he must have felt from those early days. He was running his whole life.

“I felt related to Billy in the sense of him being a mummy’s boy, but obviously, I took a different path, turning my circumstances into something positive rather than rebelling against them.

“Nevertheless, there’s a soul and a vulnerability to Billy that I think it’s important to bring, to understand him as a real person rather than the myth that he has become.”

Among the producers of the movie is Element Pictures (Room, The Favourite), with Deadline reporting that Keoghan pitched the project to the Irish studio.

The outlet states that the actor – who recently received his first Oscar nomination for The Banshees of Inisherin – first tried to get the film set up in early 2020, but that the Covid-19 pandemic delayed the process.

Deadline also reports that the Western’s script is written by Hunter Andrews and that director Bart Layton hopes to commence filming in the early half of 2024.