Life Imitating Film
WITH its microscopic budget, the Irish film “Once” could have disappeared from theaters without acknowledgment; instead it earned Oscar and Grammy nominations for its musical stars, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova.
But when Mr. Hansard and Ms. Irglova came to town recently for their first-ever awards season, they did not stay in a luxurious hotel. Like many artists trying to stay afloat in the indie world, they crashed at a friend’s house.
A few days before they were to perform their nominated song “Falling Slowly” at the Academy Awards, the two musicians — who went from on-screen pair to real-life couple — borrowed a car and drove to Amoeba Music on Sunset Boulevard. They were besieged by fans. “ ‘Once’ was so authentic,” a young man said enthusiastically.
Mr. Hansard, the 37-year-old frontman of the Dublin rock band the Frames, gave an aw-shucks smile.
Ms. Irglova, a 19-year-old singer and pianist of Czech descent, stood to the side, fiddling with a locket she was wearing. Both performers were looking forward to rebelling against the formal dress code at the Oscars.
“I don’t own a suit, so I just bought one,” said Mr. Hansard, whose curly hair looked as if someone had taken an eggbeater to it. “But I’m not going to wear black tie. I’m going to be meself. They’re not going to kick me out!”
Ms. Irglova said, “For me to wear a night gown ...”
“A what?” Mr. Hansard interrupted.
“An evening gown,” she said, correcting herself.
“No,” he said with a laugh. “I like it. Let’s both go in our pajamas.”
Upstairs, the couple looked for DVDs to take back to the home they share outside Dublin. “How many copies do you already have of ‘Das Boot’?" Ms. Irglova asked Mr. Hansard, referring to the submarine epic.
“ ‘Das Boot’ is the bible for any band that toured on a bus,” Mr. Hansard explained. “It’s the guide about how to live with a bunch of men.”
At the Hungry Cat, a fish restaurant, the two discussed how they met in Ms. Irglova’s hometown. In 2001, her father helped book the Frames for a local music festival, and her parents were hosts for a preconcert party. At the concert, as a thank you for the party, Mr. Hansard pulled Ms. Irglova, 13, onto the stage to sing.
“I was super embarrassed, but not because I had a rock-star crush,” said Ms. Irglova, who was studying guitar and classical piano at the time. “It was because he was Irish and exotic, and I had to speak English.”
That early collaboration led Mr. Hansard and Ms. Irglova to work together on an album, “The Swell Season,” and “Once,” the story of a partnership between struggling musicians that teeters on the border of romance. While promoting that film, Ms. Irglova and Mr. Hansard fell in love.
“She’s smarter than me,” Mr. Hansard said, not without pride.
Without a moment’s pause, Ms. Irglova said, “That’s true.”
“Songwriters have trouble growing up,” he explained.
Ms. Irglova gave Mr. Hansard her biggest smile of the evening.