Jordan archive for National Library

By David Prendeville

Neil Jordan directing on the Michael Collins set.

Oscar-winning Irish writer and director Neil Jordan has donated his archive to the National Library of Ireland. The archive includes film and TV scripts, production files, storyboards, plays, notebooks and personal correspondence.

Jordan, a graduate of UCD, has enjoyed a long career and is generally recognised as one of Ireland’s most distinguished film-makers.

He began his career as a playwright and novelist. His first foray into film-making was as a writer on Irish First-Wave director Joe Comerford’s Traveller.

Jordan then had success with his own eclectic directorial output such as the psychological thriller Angel, the dark adult fairytale The Company of Wolves and the simultaneously gritty and romantic crime film Mona Lisa.

Jordan then delved into some comedy in Hollywood in the late eighties with films such as High Spirits and the Robert De Niro led We’re No Angels.

Jordan’s big breakthrough, and arguably his most enduring work, however, came in 1992 when he won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for The Crying Game. He continued to have much success at home and abroad. He had massive hits such as Michael Collins, in 1996, and artistic triumphs such as his film adaptation of Pat McCabe’s The Butcher Boy in 1998.

The donation, made under section 1003 of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997, was marked by a special event at the NLI on the 9th of August attended by Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan TD and Jordan himself. Madigan described the donation as “unique” and that is represents “a significant item of Irish cultural heritage.”

Jordan speaking at the event said: “The National Library of Ireland plays a significant role in protecting our country’s visual culture and heritage and I am happy to entrust my archive to it. I have often used its magnificent reading room for research and written drafts of short stories, novels and screenplays there.”

The director of the NLI Dr. Sandra Collins added: “The National Library is committed to preserving the story of Ireland through literature, film, still image, born digital content and more. Neil Jordan has had an indelible impact on film making at home and abroad, and we are delighted that he has chosen to donate his rich and diverse archive to the NLI. We look forward to making this generous donation accessible to fans, researchers and the next generation of Irish filmmakers.”

Included amongst the donations are a letter from actor Christian Slater, who expresses thanks to Jordan for allowing him to be part of Interview With A Vampire but wishes it could’ve been under different circumstances – the role of Daniel Molloy was originally supposed to be played by River Phoenix, who died shortly before filming commenced.

It also features a note from Sinead O’ Connor which was attached to a demo she sent Jordan. There is also a letter from the disgraced movie-mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Cataloguing of the Neil Jordan archive will commence in 2019 and it is expected that this work will take one year to complete. The NLI will digitise select items from the archive, but in general it will be made available to researchers in the Special Collections Reading Room of the NLI.

Jordan also has a new film, Greta, which recently premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film backed by Screen Ireland was shot in Ireland with the streets of Dublin doubling for New York. It stars French icon Isabelle Huppert, Chloe Grace Moretz and Maika Monroe. It’s described as a “contemporary psychological thriller.”

The film’s plot has been teased as: “After discovering a handbag on a New York subway train, Frances McCullen (Moretz), a young woman bereaved by her mother’s death, sets about returning it to its rightful owner. Frances subsequently strikes up an unusual friendship with enigmatic widow Greta Hildeg (Huppert), however Greta’s motives may be more sinister than they initially seem.”

The film also co-stars a Jordan regular, Stephen Rea. It was co-written by Jordan and Ray Wright. An official release date for Ireland has yet to be announced, but the picture should be with us in the forthcoming months.

Above; Neil Jordan directing on the Michael Collins set.