What happen next to The Guy and The Girl "Once" the movie/musical ended?
This past Tuesday in Cincinnati was opening night for the broadway musical, Once. My sister attended the show and at the end, heard the guy next to her say, “So what ever happened to The Guy and The Girl??” Being a self-proclaimed fan of the movie Once, and then a super fan of the couple who played the lead roles in the movie, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, I feel as though my obsessiveness has finally come to some purpose.
I have been following the story of Once through years of my own diligent research *coughonlinestalkingcough* and can offer this unauthorized in-a-nutshell version of what happened before and after the making of the movie, the musical and the couple who appeared to be so in love and so perfect for each other.
You know that the musical Once was based on the movie Once. And Once the movie, was based on a fictional story of a guy and a girl who fall in love making music together. Once is a fictional story which actually turned out to be a prophetic one but only after the movie was released. A short disclaimer: remember that I'm a fan not an authorized biographer. This is my summation of the story as I followed it in the news.
Two Guys and A Girl First, we have to back up about 20+ years. Glen Hansard is a singer-songwriter from Dublin, Ireland. He grew up busking on Grafton Street with a number of other talented blokes and started a band in the 80s called The Frames. John Carney, writer and director of the movie Once, was the bass player in The Frames for a while, leaving fairly early on to pursue his passion for film. The Frames enjoyed some local notoriety, put out some really awesome albums (start with Fitzcarraldo, if you’re looking), had a fiercely loyal following in both Europe and America but ultimately struggled for about 20 years to get their deserved recognition from the Big Music Scene.
While touring in the Czech Republic with The Frames, Glen met Marketa Irglova. She was then the 13 year old daughter of a family that hosted The Frames while at a music festival in their town. Later, her home became a comfortable place where Glen could stay and write his music. At one point (and a few years later lest you start thinking of Glen as robbing the cradle), Glen and Marketa (Mar), a talented classical pianist in her own right, started writing music together. They created an album as a side project called The Swell Season. This was a helpful diversion for Glen, who was struggling with the direction of his music career. Pin this thought here folks, because we’re going to come back to it.
Building Bridges Around this time, John Carney was writing a movie script about a busker who has talent to be a great musician but can’t seem to get anything going forward. He meets a woman who pulls him out of his rut and propels him back on track to his music career. While writing, John consults with his old friend Glen and includes some of his busking stories in the script. John asks Glen to write some songs for the movie and Glen agrees, including some of the songs he’s written with Mar for The Swell Season project, such as "Falling Slowly".
Movie Drama (the real life kind) John has a relatively famous actor (who will not be named) cast to play The Guy and is looking for an older woman actress who can be The Girl. Glen mentions that he knows someone who is younger but might fit the role well, introduces him to Marketa and of course she is cast in the movie because she’s perfect. Somewhere around here is the real-life movie drama because the famous actor decides to bow out of the lead role and as a result, the funding for the movie is cut. Determined to finish, John scrapes together a tiny bit of arts funding and begs Glen to perform the role of The Guy. Glen demurrers because he feels a little weird about playing a lead that is based loosely on himself but ultimately agrees. The film is shot in 3 weeks for something under $100,000 and yada-yada-yada the film is a huge hit at Sundance. (Here is Glen and Mar performing an adorable live performance outside at Sundance). Then it’s picked up by the bigger film guys, becomes the sleeper hit of 2007, Glen and Mar win an Oscar for the song “Falling Slowly” and a few years later the broadway musical is produced (thank God, with no jazz hands), stunning everyone and winning multiple Tony awards.
So What Happens With The Guy and The Girl? Well, like I said, Glen and Mar were already friends when the movie was shot. But, the charming nervous tension and sexual energy is not an act. They were falling in love during (if not before) the movie and by the time Once was making waves in the independent movie theaters, they were dating. Here is a video of them talking about their friendship turning into a relationship.
Art Mimics Life Mimics Art
Back to the aforementioned pinned thought. Remember when I told you that Glen was kind of struggling with his own music career when he started his “side project” making music with Mar? And that side project led to Mar playing opposite him in a movie, with his music and his performances on screen?? And by the release of the movie Glen himself has a new direction and energy to follow his musical dreams? Does this sound familiar yet???
All of a sudden, the world audience is taking notice of this incredibly charismatic musician, Glen Hansard and his lovely muse Marketa Irglova. They love this music they've created and performed on screen. The people want more and so Glen and Mar (and the lads from The Frames) start a lengthy whirlwind tour around the US and Europe to larger and larger audiences as The Swell Season. They keep up the momentum and make another album with the band called Strict Joy and tour yet again. They finally made it big.
All’s Well That End’s Well So it's true that The Guy Glen and The Girl Mar have a beautiful love and music interaction that changes both of their lives and careers forever. but the relationship (like many wonderful loves of our own lives) is not meant to last. Just like in the fiction, Once, Glen and Mar ultimately part ways, but not without changing each other for the better. And truly it is a happy ending and an even more glorious beginning for both of them.
See the musical while you can
Isn’t that an inspirational story of lives intertwining and changing and beautiful music? If you want to see the show while it's in Cincinnati, here is a link to buy tickets.
But Wait, There’s More Maybe you've started this journey at the musical, but from one fan to the next, I encourage you to watch the movie Once if you haven't yet. If you're still enthralled with this real life story, you can actually watch the bittersweet journey of their relationship and the music tour on the road in the documentary, The Swell Season. Side note: I have my own cameo in that movie, playing myself as a fan about to meet Glen and the gang for the first time. That's me to the left of the guy's hand taking the photo.
Headline photo: Stuart Ward as Guy and Dani de Waal as Girl in the national tour of "Once" at the Academy of Music. (Photo courtesy of Joan Marcus)