"I'm grateful for that." Hansard and Vedder became friends in unlikely, and tragic, circumstances.A while after the Oscars, Hansard was playing an outdoor auditorium near San Francisco.That was his job, he said: to help me make a living." Busking introduced him to a new crowd: artists, singers, "people who read books".One day he went to a Seamus Heaney reading and ended up following new friends back to the poet's house."It's an old Land Rover Defender, and I'm restoring it," he says, blue eyes blazing."I've been filthy for days, and I'm happy as a pig in shit.
The film was shot in three weeks on a shoestring budget of £100,000 and, if the finished product was rough around the edges, it was also quite lovely, seducing all who saw it.
"You'd imagine I'd have been full of light after winning," he says, "but in fact I went quite dark, drinking far too much.
I didn't know why." It was Bruce Springsteen, sitting up with him one night drinking whiskey, who explained things to him.
The leads' on-screen love affair followed off-screen, and the following year the doomed sweethearts (they would split up shortly after) won Best Song at the Oscars for the track "Falling Slowly".
Hansard's acceptance speech, made immortal on You Tube, is the very definition of incredulous disbelief.
Cillian Murphy had signed on to appear alongside a 19-year-old newcomer, Czech musician Marketa Irglova; Hansard would write the songs. "Cillian doesn't like me saying this, but he had reservations about some of my songs. But, then, the character was pretty dark." With Murphy gone, the funding disappeared, and the project seemed doomed.