You need to know Saltburn's Barry Keoghan's backstory.

Barry Keoghan is the talk of the town.

The Irish actor stars in one of 2023's buzziest movies, Emerald Fennell's Saltburn, alongside Jacob Elordi and Rosamund Pike, and scored himself a nomination at the 2024 Golden Globes for his role, firmly cementing him as one of Hollywood's stars of the moment (and an audience favourite, of course).

It's the perfect 'arrival' for the 31-year-old, after years of building towards a household name.

He won a BAFTA and received nominations for a Golden Globe and Academy Award for 2022's Banshees of Inisherin. He's starred in films like The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Dunkirk, The Green Knight. And if you’re a superhero buff, you may recognise him from The Batman or Eternals.

But while Keoghan's career is soaring in 2023, his story reads like a fairytale – and all fairytales start in tragedy.

Before you go on, watch the trailer for Banshees of Inisherin. Post continues below. 

Video via Searchlight Pictures

Keoghan discussed his childhood story in a 2018 interview on The Late Late Show, which resurfaced in 2023 as his career reached new heights.


In it, he talks about his family and the struggles of growing up in Ireland during a heroin epidemic.

"It was a new thing and people didn't know the effects," Keoghan said, opening up about his mother's passing from an overdose.

"The drugs hit the area, and it affected all the families and she was one of them that got caught."

"I was living with my nanny at that stage… I was 12. [My mother] was very young. She was 31… I have great memories of her and I'm very proud of her."


Prior to her death, Keoghan and his brother Eric spent years in foster care, living in what the actor estimates to be around 13 homes in total. 

The brothers had a good experience and were thankfully kept together the entire time. 

"Every family was good to us… As a kid, you don't know what's happening. You get attached and then boom, you move over here," the 31-year-old said.

"It's a weird one. It's only when you get older, you can look back and get a bit of perspective on it."

Keoghan acknowledges his achievements, knowing that someone with his background could have gone in a much darker direction in life. 

"13 homes, you know? If that was on paper you'd kinda go 'he's destined to mess up'."

The actor gives thanks to his grandmother, aunt and older sister, Gemma, for the way he turned out and his ultimate success. 

The three women shared one bedroom while they co-raised the boys after the death of their mother, with Gemma quitting her job to parent them full time, the Dublin Live reported.

It was around this time, when his life became more stable, that his interests in acting grew.

Speaking to GQ, Keoghan shared his initial interest stemmed from watching Marlon Brando, Paul Newman and James Dean.

"I was expressing... doing impressions, putting on accents for prank calls, going to the shops and becoming different characters each time," he told the publication.


However, the streets of Summerhill, Dublin weren't exactly a safe space to dream big.

"To say you wanna be an actor in that environment, you're not looked down upon but it's like, 'Get with the script. It's not gonna happen'."

Image: Getty.

At 16, Keoghan happened upon a casting notice that was pasted up in a shop window for a film called Between the Canals


"I slyly took the number so no one would see me and called it up when I got home," the actor told GQ.

"They said they were waiting for funding, but I didn't know what that meant. All I saw was, Time off school, get paid. F***, I'm gonna go to that."

The film’s director told the publication that Keoghan was calling him "every few weeks until I eventually cast him". 

After getting a taste for acting, Keoghan enrolled in The Factory, a local acting school in Dublin. 

He soon became a local star after they cast him as Wayne the 'heartless cat killer' in Irish drama series Love/Hate. 

This role built a stream of steady work for the actor and was the perfect launching pad for his big break into Hollywood in 2017 where he played the unnerving role of Martin in Killing of Sacred Deer alongside Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell.

Then it all started happening, with a role in the mini-series Chernobyl in 2019 and as Druig in Marvel’s Eternals. 

If you're craving a wholesome, life comes full circle moment, then here it is.

Keoghan tweeted Stan Lee way back in 2013, asking to be cast as a superhero. And eight years later, it happened.


In 2022, Keoghan earned his first Oscar nomination, reuniting with Colin Farrell and co-starring alongside Brendan Gleeson in The Banshees of Inisherin

Personally, the actor avoids the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, preferring to stay in the Scottish countryside with his partner Alyson Kierans.

The pair met in 2021 and had a son in August 2022 named Brando, after Keoghan’s inspiration and screen icon Marlon Brando. 

After the birth of his son, GQ asked the actor how he felt about becoming a father.

"It's indescribable… It's a love I've not felt before," he said.

"You can learn from how you were raised. I have the chance to do the things that weren't done for me."


Announcing the birth of his son on Instagram, the actor wrote: "Welcome to the pack my boy, BRANDO."

His use of the word 'pack' refers to the actor's interest in animals and his spiritual connection to wolves. 

"Animals can say so much without saying anything," he told GQ.

"There’s so much of the wolf I feel connected to, being in the pack, and being a lone wolf as well."

It seems the actor has found his pack with his family, while building his career as a lone wolf.

Feature Image: Getty.

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