George MacKay has revealed he was inspired by Conor McGregor for his portrayal of Ned Kelly in his new film.
The 1917 actor stars as the Australian outlaw in The True History Of The Kelly Gang and joked he had to seek out other sources of stimulation for the role after he failed to grow the full beard Kelly was famous for, finding it in the Irish mixed martial artist.
Discussing his first appearance in the film, in which he is performing a deep back bend, MacKay told the PA news agency: “Ned is like an animal, he’s everything, he’s like a mixture of this wild colonial boy but also by the same token, if I’m going to be every element of Australia, there was a bit of a kangaroo dance in there as well.
“Conor McGregor was a big reference, for a modern Irish aggressive (persona). There were so many things.”
He added: “It’s a beautiful maelstrom of a film and I think that is a good way to begin, by putting something on its head.”
The role of the bushranger and gangleader, who was executed in 1880 has been played by a string of actors, including Heath Ledger and Sir Mick Jagger, but MacKay said he wanted to make the part his own.
He said: “I think we just treated it as our own thing.
“There is one thing that Justin (Kurzel) said is because he’s so revered as a symbol in Australia, people are kind of nervous to touch or to play with the truth that we’ve agreed upon, as to what that symbol is.
“And that wasn’t the case with this one so in a way it felt completely different.
“There was a thing where I tried to grow a beard and I couldn’t grow a beard and I think in a way that was part of the release.
“The real Ned has got this beard down to here, people just know the last image of him, and once we got rid of that it was like ‘Well let’s just get rid of all of it, let’s free ourselves of all of that, let’s make it in the spirit of things rather than the actual history as to as and when exactly things happened because it’s open to interpretation’.”
The True History Of The Kelly Gang is released in UK cinemas on February 28.