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New-Style Musical: Hansard and Irglova in 'Once'

Marketa Irglova and Glen Hansard, in a scene from the movie <em>Once</em>.
Marketa Irglova and Glen Hansard, in a scene from the movie Once.

Director John Carney's new small-scale musical Once features Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova as two musicians who tell their story in song.

Hansard is the lead singer of the Irish band The Frames. The Czech singer Irglova was only 17 when the movie was made — and neither of them are professional actors. In the film, their musicianship is an integral part of the plot, as the two compose lyrics and learn to harmonize.

Glen Hansard and his band The Frames released their first album, Another Love Song, in 1992. In most of the 15 years since, they have flirted with mainstream U.S. success without finding it, hopscotching from record label to record until gaining more traction — and fans.

Still, Hansard's greatest success in 2007 has been as an actor: Once was one of the surprise hits at this year's Sundance Film Festival. It begins rolling into theaters nationwide on May 16.

It is the first high-profile acting role for Hansard, 37, since his appearance in the 1991 film The Commitments. But it has finally put him on the pop-cultural radar as a rising star — after a mere decade and a half of trying.

The film arrives on the heels of the CD The Swell Season, a side project Hansard recorded with Irglova. It has received glowing reviews and led to a tour with Damien Rice.

Hansard and The Frames have also released The Cost, which has spawned a large-scale U.S. tour.

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