'We rarely go for the same parts'
In conversation with FRANCES O'ROURKE
has been nominated for a best actor award in next month’s Irish Times Theatre awards. He has been involved in drama since he was a child in Gorey, Co Wexford. He graduated from the Samuel Beckett Centre in Trinity College Dublin in 2000, and since then has worked in theatre and on TV. He and Rory Nolan appeared in ‘DruidMurphy’ last year. He lives in Drimnagh
Rory and I both came on to the Dublin theatre scene around the same time. We were in our early 20s: he was at parties in my house, I was at parties in his. We knew of each other, but didn’t work together until 2010, which is weird in a small town like this. We were both in plays at the Edinburgh festival around 2007, and became brothers there over a pint – or 12.
Rory and I went to rival acting schools . . . there’s a bit of slagging. If I was passing, say, someone making balloon animals in the street I’d say, “ah, Gaiety School . . .” I’m joking, it doesn’t actually matter, both are just a springboard into the real world. Acting is competitive, always has been. But after a number of years you establish yourself by the kind of parts you play, by your own personality. Bedroom Farce is unusual for me: up until now I’ve focused on more “serious” plays. I do a good line in serious, intense, angry bastards.
DruidMurphy was tough work and does put pressure on you. But Druid creates such a fantastic family atmosphere: Rory brought his fiancée Tara and son, Max, on tour, to England and the US. It’s very unusual, but that’s Druid, being brilliant, taking care of actors. We all reared Max basically.
It’s true that my Gorey fans have been coming to see me in every single production I’ve been in since I was in college – they fill a bus, 52 people. They’re embarrassingly proud of me. My parents have been involved in Gorey drama forever: I was six in my first speaking role and I’ve been on the stage ever since.
It’s nice if you can mix theatre gigs with a couple of TV gigs, that’s my goal. It’s constant juggling. I was in Alexander [the 2004 film directed by Oliver Stone], which was an amazing adventure and I’ve just finished filming Quirke [a BBC TV thriller based on John Banville’s writing as Benjamin Black] . . . I play Father Harkins, a Catholic priest who has a few tete-a-tetes with Gabriel Byrne.
I’m single, live with my brother and my dog, Tom, in a house in Drimnagh: there’s a pool table in the front room, it’s very much a bachelor pad. It’s a good house for a party.
Apart from theatre, Rory and I are both into rugby, both Leinster, thank God. And Rory is more like Ross O’Carroll-Kelly than he’d care to admit . . ah no, no.
But the main difference is that originally I’m a country boy and he’s a city boy. He slags me and I slag his south Co Dublin accent.