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Barry Keoghan Admits The Objectifying Attention He's Gotten After 'Saltburn' Is 'Scary'

The actor spoke to 'Vanity Fair' about the 'overwhelming' amount of fame he's suddenly seen due to his on-screen nudity in 'Saltburn.'

Barry Keoghan
Karwai Tang/WireImage/GettyImages

Irish actor Barry Keoghan recently expressed discomfort with all the attention he's been getting for his explicit and controversial scenes in the movie Saltburn.

"I’m not used to this much attention," the 31-year-old told Vanity Fair. "It’s overwhelming if I’m quite honest."

Before Saltburn, Keoghan rose to prominence in 2013 as Wayne on the Irish TV drama Love/Hate, which eventually led to prominent roles in films like '71, Mammal, and Trespass Against Us.

He's had commercial success in films like Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk in 2017 and Marvel's Eternals in 2021, and he became a Best Supporting Actor BAFTA award winner for Martin McDonagh's The Banshees of Inisherin in 2022.

But what really got moviegoers' attention was his astonishing work in Emerald Fennell's racy 2023 thriller Saltburn as the main protagonist Oliver Quick, who is initially introduced to the audience as a socially awkward student at Oxford University and later revealed to be quite the devious character akin to Patricia Highsmith's Tom Ripley.

The erotic film was generally lauded for its audacious take on obsession and class disparity while it simultaneously repulsed a certain demographic.

Long after the film's final credits rolled, audiences couldn't stop talking about the number of Keoghan's sexually explicit scenes that went viral.

One of Saltburn's most controversial scenes featured Keoghan's character lustfully lapping up bathwater after Felix Catton, played by Australian heartthrob Jacob Elordi, masturbated while taking a bath.

Other jaw-dropping scenes included Oliver erotically desecrating the freshly dug grave of a major character; deliberately performing oral pleasure on a female character during an inconvenient time of the month and telling her she's lucky because he's a "vampire"; and prancing around inside a lavish mansion in his birthday suit for a disturbing climactic finale.

The latter full-frontal scene featuring Keoghan began a viral discourse that doesn't seem to be losing steam anytime soon.

A BBC journalist conducting red carpet interviews at the BAFTA awards ceremony on February 18 was the latest example of the media's obsession with Keoghan's scenes.

The reporter was slammed for awkwardly asking Keoghan's friend and fellow actor Andrew Scott what his thoughts were on the "naked dance scene" in Saltburn.

Rather than discussing Scott's LGBTQ+ tearjerker All of Us Strangers, which was nominated for an Outstanding British Film BAFTA award that night, the interviewer put the Fleabag actor on the spot by asking him to weigh in on rumors of Keoghan wearing a "prosthetic" for the infamous nude scene.

Scott was gracious but eventually grew weary of the interviewer's persistence and walked away.

Here is the awkward interview.

Keoghan was also objectified in a W Magazine profile featuring him and Saltburn director Emerald Fennell.

Several of the photos featured him in various latex rubber outfits and one with him soaking in a bathtub full of blood.

Another showed Keoghan feasting on a bloody heart with his mouth smeared in blood, which Saltburn fans presumed could have been a subtle nod to that raunchy oral sex scene.

Vanity Fair went even further to showcase Keoghan in the buff in a promo video for its "cheekiest" Hollywood issue yet.

The video featured 11 of his industry peers dressed to the nines and shown in slow succession with a camera pan that finally landed on Keoghan's bare bottom. He turned around and gave a cheeky smile with his hands covering his crotch.

It's glaringly obvious why he's the only one sans clothing.

You can watch the video below.

Wait for it.

Warning: NSFW

The shocking reveal left people speechless.




After all the coverage Keoghan has gotten for his lusty character, some people thought it was time to move on.

In response to Vanity Fair commenting on Keoghan reaching "a whole new stratosphere of fame" since Satlburn and asking how he was adjusting, he replied:

"It’s new for me, man. It’s quite a scary one as well, because I’m not used to this much attention."

After reiterating that the whole thing was "overwhelming" for him, he continued:

"It’s almost a different kind of life that you’ve got to be living now."
"I just want to make movies and fecking play parts and work with filmmakers, and not focus on this noise too much."

He was later asked to comment on the public's reception to his nude dancing scene and whether or not he felt objectified in any way by it.

"It's crazy," said Keoghan before mentioning the potential career pitfall of doing such provocative scenes.

Keoghan continued:

"It can be detrimental to the mind and your mental state if you read into it too much or you look at too much stuff being said."

However, the actor expressed he was willing to accept the challenge.

"I wouldn’t go there if I wasn’t prepared for that, or if I wasn’t open to receiving what people want to say," he said, adding:

"I think it shows an act of maturity in your craft, and if it justifies the story and moves it forward, why not?"

Keoghan said he believes that nudity is a work of "true art" that has been normalized in many forms of media for centuries and has always been venerated as a thing of beauty.

As Keoghan pointed out:

"You look at European cinema and they tend to have a lot of scenes that involve nudity, and it’s not a massive thing, really."
"But I think it’s true art. It really is. And it’s true vulnerability as well."
"You’re really kind of putting yourself out there in the most vulnerable state. It’s beautiful to look at."

He added:

"I’m not saying it’s because of my body, but it’s freeing to see that body move around in the way it does. It’s like a moving painting, almost."

Keoghan can currently be seen in Apple TV+'s war drama Masters of the Air, which centers on the the 100th Bomb Group during World War II. It is a companion series to Band of Brothers and The Pacific.

DC fans are looking forward to seeing Keoghan's take on The Joker in the upcoming The Batman - Part II , the sequel to Matt Reeves' 2022 The Batman movie featuring Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne.

The sequel to the latest reboot of the film franchise is set for October 3, 2025.