FRED Interview

Stephen Burke, Barry Ward – Maze

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12 min. and 31 sec.

Maze, Stephen Burke and Barry Ward speak about their film.

Play Podcast
12 min. and 31 sec.

PODCAST | Chiara Laganà interviews Stephen Burke and Barry Ward, director and actor of the film Maze.

To listen to the interview, click on the ► icon on the right, just above the picture

Writer and director Stephen Burke along with actor Barry Ward talk to us about their movie Maze, which provides an interesting point of view of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The movie tells the story of the escape from the Maze prison of 38 Provisional Irish Republican Army prisoners that took place on September 25, 1983. It was the biggest breakout in British history despite the fact that the jail was considered to be among Europe’s most secure. Furthermore, Loyalists and Republicans were imprisoned in the same blocks and this was the cause of constant friction between prisoners. Maze centers on the relationship between prisoner Larry Marley (played by Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) and a warden (Barry Ward). Two men at odds, but who nevertheless share a lot in common. While Larry Marley’s character is real, the warden is an amalgamation of different prison guards. Vaughan-Lawlor was cast also because of his physical resemblance to Larry Marley, while Barry Ward studied books and spoke with former guards to prepare for his role. Stephen Burke underlined that he wanted to write the film with extreme accuracy, because the families of those who died during the escape are still alive: the break out also cost the life of a prison officer who died of a heart attack. Given that the Maze prison, where Bobby Sands was jailed and whose story was at the center of Steve McQueen’s Hunger, was partly demolished, the movie was shot in a prison in Cork. The set was really important for both the cast and crew, and Stephen Burke described it as “beneficial” for the movie. Maze achieved the largest opening weekend for an Irish movie in 2017 beating the Oscar-nominated film Room, it was presented at the Festival of Cannes, the Galway Film Fleadh and the Belfast Film Festival. It was announced that Jim Sheridan is also working on a movie about the escape from the Maze, however the film has been postponed due to finance and scheduling problems.

Maze is based on the true story of the 1983 mass breakout of 38 IRA prisoners from the HMP Maze high-security prison. As Larry Marley, the chief architect of the escape, schemes his way towards this feat, he meets prison warden, Gordon Close. Initially they are confirmed enemies, born of opposite sides of Northern Ireland’s political divide, but when Larry realises that Gordon may be useful for his escape, a slow seduction begins. What follows is an intense and intriguing drama during which an unlikely relationship is forged between two adversaries.

For the page of the film on the Festival website, click here.

  • Reporter
    Chiara Laganà
  • Guest
    Stephen Burke / Barry Ward
  • Interviewee role
    Director and writer / Actor
  • Film title
  • Festival section
    Irish Film Festa 11
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