Barry Keoghan recalls battle with flesh-eating bacteria

January 12, 2024 6:08 pm

[Source: CNN Entertainment]

Barry Keoghan has a story to tell about a scary flesh-eating bacteria that nearly cost the “Saltburn” actor his arm.

Keoghan spoke about his battle with necrotizing fasciitis – a rare bacterial infection that eats away at the skin, muscles, nerves, fat and blood vessels around an infected wound – in an interview with GQ published on Tuesday.

Falling ill right before the 2022 Oscar-nominated film “The Banshees of Inisherin” began shooting, Keoghan said that amputation of the infected area “was on the table.” He recalled asking the doctors if he was going to die, to which they replied, “Well, we don’t know.” The actor did not specify how or where he became infected.

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Vibrio vulnificus is one of the bacteria that can cause what’s commonly known as a flesh-eating infection. Of the 150 to 200 Vibrio vulnificus cases reported to the CDC every year, about 1 in 5 die from the infection, sometimes within one or two days of getting sick. CNN reported last year that in the US, cases of flesh-eating bacteria have been on the rise due to warming ocean water temperatures, as the bacteria tend to favor warmer waters.

Martin McDonagh, director of “Banshees,” went to visit Keoghan in the hospital before they began shooting the movie and said in Tuesday’s interview that, all things considered, the actor seemed to “shrug it off.”

“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 on Tuesday,’” McDonaugh said.

Keoghan also remembered the director offering a pep talk during his hospital visit, wherein McDonagh told his star, “Just remember this when you’ve been nominated for an Oscar.”

His words rang true when Keoghan earned a supporting actor Oscar nod in 2023 for his performance in “Banshees,” in which he starred alongside Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson and Kerry Condon. The movie was nominated for nine Academy Awards total, including best picture.

While Keoghan ultimately lost the Oscar to “Everything Everywhere All At Once” star Ke Huy Quan, he won a BAFTA that same year for best supporting actor and, as an added bonus, he still has his arm.