Barry Keoghan Recalls Fighting Flesh-Eating Disease Before Filming Oscar-Nominated Role

The actor was diagnosed with a case of necrotizing fasciitis last year, and was told by doctors that death and amputation were both on the table.

Barry Keoghan nearly lost his arm — and his life — to a bad case of necrotizing fasciitis.

The Irish actor was about to start filming Martin McDonagh’s “Banshees of Inisherin” (2022) when he caught the flesh-eating disease. In an interview for GQ’s February cover story published Tuesday, he recalled learning about his options from concerned doctors.

Keoghan told the outlet they considered an amputation and informed him that one in five cases are fatal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the bacterial infection spreads rapidly and is deadly if left untreated with surgery or antibiotics.

Keoghan still recalls asking if he was going to die, only to be told: “Well, we don’t know.”

McDonagh himself remembered visiting Keoghan at the hospital mere days before principal photography began. While the director endearingly told Keoghan to “remember this when you’ve been nominated for an Oscar,” he was genuinely worried.

“I’m not sure if he was on a lot of meds, but he seemed to shrug it off,” McDonagh told GQ. “We were only about four days out from shooting, and his arm was puffed up. But he was like, ‘Yeah, no, I’m going to be fine — I’ll see you Tuesday!’”

He continued: “I went to the hospital thinking, Shit — is he going to die?”

Martin McDonagh and Barry Keoghan after "Banshees" won the Golden Globe for Best Musical/Comedy.
Martin McDonagh and Barry Keoghan after "Banshees" won the Golden Globe for Best Musical/Comedy.
Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

The rest is history: Keoghan not only got to keep his arm, but fulfilled McDonagh’s prophecy after wrapping “Banshees” and receiving a Best Supporting Actor nomination — though he ultimately lost to Ke Huy Quan at last year’s ceremony.

Keoghan not only went on to film this year’s “Saltburn” opposite Jacob Elordi, but became a father during production. He shares son Brando with ex Alyson Sandro.

Despite becoming an A-lister, Keoghan still seemingly has that boyish wonder that drew him to Tinseltown in the first place.

“Looking out at the [Hollywood] sign and y’know, I wanted this as a kid,” he told GQ.

“I dunno why … but I wanted it,” Keoghan continued. “It brings back memories, in a weird way — it’s hard to have memories of place you’ve not been in, but I watched all those old movies, and was fascinated by old Hollywood. This was stuff I dreamt of, as a kid.”

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