FORTHRIGHT? Chris O'Dowd can't help himself. Take the Irish actor's opinion of one of the filming locations for the comic Australian musical The Sapphires - Campbelltown.
''Hey, I went to many beautiful places in Australia - I was very fortunate - but Campbelltown is a dump.''
O'Dowd, who went from the British sitcom The IT Crowd to emerging Hollywood star with his role in Bridesmaids, is just as comically direct about working with Aboriginal director Wayne Blair and the cast of a movie about four indigenous singers who go from a rural mission to entertaining the troops during the Vietnam War.
''I'm not sure I'd met an Aboriginal person before the film,'' he says, dragging on a cigarette on the rooftop terrace of a Kings Cross hotel. ''And now I can't f--kin' get away from 'em.''
Since The Sapphires premiered to a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival, which O'Dowd describes as ''a magical experience'', there has been warm praise for Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens and Miranda Tapsell as the four singers. But O'Dowd just about steals the show as their hapless boozing manager, who persuades them to ditch country and western for soul.
Adapting Tony Briggs's stage musical, Blair was originally looking for an English actor for the role. A Hollywood agent mentioned O'Dowd and sent him off to see Bridesmaids.
It took two rewrites of the role before the Irish actor accepted the film.
What was it about the script that made him head to Australia when he was suddenly hot in Hollywood?
''I was getting sent a lot of stuff but it was mostly mediocre rom-coms and that kind of thing,'' he says. ''I'd made a decision that I was going to avoid anything in that genre at all. Then this one came up and I thought it was an interesting world. I was fascinated by the story and it was also something I was very ignorant about, so I always think that's a good way to educate yourself.''
O'Dowd, 32, grew up in what he calls an arty family in Ireland. His father was a signwriter - ''I spent a lot of my childhood up ladders sticking letters on pubs'' - and his mother raised five children before becoming a psychotherapist.
''There are statistics that something like 30 per cent of actors have a parent in the mental health industry,'' he says. ''I think there's something in that about looking inward and transgressing.''
After success in The IT Crowd and a relationship break-up, O'Dowd headed to Los Angeles and quickly landed roles in the Hollywood comedies Gulliver's Travels and Dinner For Schmucks.
Making The Sapphires has given him an insight into black and white relations in Australia, he says.
''I think there's so much guilt, which I think is very healthy. White man's guilt kind of permeates everything - and also much more of a respect than other white people have for their mistreated indigenous people, such as native Indians.''
The Sapphires opens tomorrow.