Due to all-nighter fatigue after the Golden Globes, I was not effusive enough in expressing how much I loved Barry Keoghan’s fit that night. But we saw this during award season last year, when Barry, making his first award show run, introduced us to his red carpet personality – and it is far from boring. This is not an actor who is going to show up in a boring black tux because he’s worried that people won’t take him seriously if he shows an interest in fashion. Quite the opposite, actually.
Barry wore lavender to the Oscars and ended up on every best dressed list. So seeing him in clashing plaid Louis Vuitton red, with all kinds of embellishments, including a hip chain, was happily not unexpected. Someone has come to rival Timothée Chalamet in the young white actor style games. We love to see it.
Timmy, however, is well into his leading man era while Barry is just entering his. Barry started 2023 as a supporting actor, nominated for Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance in The Banshees of Inisherin. He ended 2023 as a lead actor, with Saltburn. Emerald Fennell’s film has made him a leading man. And landed him on the cover of the new issue of GQ.
This is a big deal for him, he said it was one of his dreams, to cover GQ; but Barry’s been making those dreams come true one by one. It’s a true Cinderella story – a kid from inner city Dublin with a tragic backstory who scrapped his way, literally, to becoming Hollywood’s Next Big Thing. This GQ profile is the first of what will likely be many as Barry continues his ascent. And that’s why, for students of pop culture, it’s such a fascinating time in Barry’s career: the transition for from supporting player to number one on the call sheet is not easy, and I’m not just talking about the work on set, I’m talking about the work of being a Celebrity, going from niche fame to mainstream fame, from a page or two in the magazine to the cover page of the magazine.
Barry tells GQ that he’s both ready for it and intimidated by it. He’s honest about how, already, it’s starting to feel lonely. Because, of course, it always thins out at the top. But he’s also excited and brimming with enthusiasm about this phase of his career. The goal right now is to maintain the momentum, to build on the results of Saltburn – which means what’s next is critical. And that’s why he’s spending so much time in LA, that’s the standard path in this business and many a star from across the Atlantic have travelled the same route: Colin Farrell, Andrew Garfield, Robert Pattinson, Tom Holland. It’s the meetings and the networking, the business of being a movie star. Barry strategically isn’t all that forthcoming with GQ about his plans and it’s smart to not give it away, to keep some things close. Instinctively though, he already knows how to guard certain parts of himself without seeming like he’s unwilling to participate.
There are good stories in this interview – like the one about meeting Daniel Day Lewis after Daniel’s son fangirled him at the spa, as IF he met DDL at the spa (spoiler alert, he did)! – and he gets candid and even a little emotional talking about his infant son, Brando, who was born while he was filming Saltburn.
“It was probably the best time of my life, to be quite fair. Havin’ a baby boy, and leadin’ a movie. It was the best time of my life, I must say—yeah.”
And that’s a whole other conversation that we should have if we’re talking about career ascent and the move from supporting to lead. Barry and Alyson Sandro, Brando’s mother, are no longer in a relationship. She is presumably the one parenting Brando back at home in London while Barry is “staying [in LA] a while” to make his moves. What would that be like for a woman in the same situation? Would extra considerations would there be in order to realise this goal? I think about what Ali Wong said during her acceptance speech about her ex-husband Justin Hakuta and the fact that she couldn’t have progressed to the next phase of her career without his involvement. Presumably Justin, who is an entrepreneur (he’s a Harvard Business School graduate), has had to make some adjustments/compromises in his career in order to accommodate her growing success. We’re nowhere near the point where this is typical but that’s also why it was so important for Ali to shout that out, so that eventually it can be normalised in the same way that it’s so “normal” in Barry’s situation – for a male artist to be able to make his art and have a family, secure in the comfort that there’s a woman who is handling the responsibilities on that front. Right now, the majority of women who find themselves like Barry, with opportunity before them and who are also mothers, do not have that luxury.
Like imagine the same GQ profile but instead of Barry it’s a 31-year-old actress with a year old baby who’s just had her leading role breakthrough performance. How likely would it be for her to be in Los Angeles on her own, living in a hotel, figuring out her next project? I’m not trying to dump on Barry here – I hope it’s obvious that I’m not since… you know… he’s my current celebrity crush and I’m obsessed with him – I’m just pointing out that, well, the path to the kind of stardom he’s aiming for is that much more challenging for a woman.
Now, with the serious sh-t out the way, we can talk about his underwear. His stylist Ilaria Urbanati posted an IG story of his underwear getting ironed because she was worried that the bunching from the wrinkles would show under his pants. I’m not mad at it and I respect this so much in a stylist. These tiny, tiny details are vital, they finish off a look. That’s how it should be – and I’m surprised at how often it’s not like this. How often we see folds and wrinkles and bunches and threads where there shouldn’t be.
Barry’s a leading man now. He requires leading man pressed underwear, lol.
Click here for the full GQ piece.