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Barry Keoghan nearly lost his arm due to rare flesh-eating bacteria

When diagnosed with the infection, Keoghan asked doctors: 'I’m not gonna die, right?'

By Nick Reilly

Barry Keoghan attends the 81st Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton on January 07, 2024 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Saltburn star Barry Keoghan has revealed that he almost had to have his arm amputated after contracting a rare, life-threatening flesh infection.

In an new interview with GQ, the Irish star revealed he contracted necrotising fasciitis in 2021, just weeks before he was set to begin filming The Banshees of Inisherin.

The condition is usually caused by an infected wound and is commonly referred to as “the flesh-eating disease”, as it causes body tissue to die.

The 31-year-old explained that one in five cases of the disease can be fatal and amputation was a potential option. When Keoghan asked doctors “I’m not gonna die, right?”, they replied: “Well, we don’t know.”

Martin McDonagh, the writer/director of The Banshees Of Inisherin, Martin McDonagh, visited Keoghan in hospital the week before they began shooting the movie.

McDonagh said: “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.’”

He added: “I went to the hospital thinking, ‘Shit – is he going to die?’ Let alone, is he going to make the movie. But I came out of there energised and looking forward to it.”

Keoghan also recalled being laid up in hospital and McDonagh telling him: “Just remember this when you’ve been nominated for an Oscar.” That prediction came to pass when Keoghan received his first ever Oscar nomination for his role as downtrodden youngster Dominic Kearney.

More recently, Keoghan has attracted widespread attention and awards nominations for his striking lead turn in Saltburn, the latest movie from Emerald Fennell.