Broody valentines don't come much darker than Love/Hate villain Aidan Gillen. When we went looking for an anti-hero to break my heart in the video for our single Valentine, we didn't dare hope that the Game of Thrones heartthrob would fetch up at the Hacienda bar in Little Mary Street for filming.
The tune, featuring the signature I Draw Slow blend of fiddle, claw hammer banjo, driving bass and vocal harmonies, tells the story of a soured love affair as the put-upon protagonist pleads with her valentine to show his true colours or set her free. When he does open his heart and she finds out who he really is, the world gets a little bigger for both of them.
Director and actor Hugh O’Conor, who recreated the sorry story in the idiosyncratic surrounds of this cult Dublin bar, sent the song to Gillen earlier in the week on the off-chance that he might be willing and able to play
As luck would have it, Gillen was on a day off from filming Game of Thrones and he liked the tune, so he arrived and filming began.
Acting against a real actor was a revelation: once Gillen got into character an atmosphere of conflicted emotion and repressed anger filled the small pub and we all found some acting mojo, if only for an afternoon.
The Hacienda, if you’ve never been there, is in a little world of its own anyway. With no sign on the door and nothing to indicate that it is anything other than a vagrant Spanish villa lost on Dublin’s northside, most people walk past on their way to the fruit markets or the Four Courts. However, if you ring the bell and the genteel owner Shay lets you in (if he lets you in) you find an atmospheric, windowless museum to kitsch, alive with photographs of the celebrities that have passed through.
Shay doesn’t usually open the bar until 8pm, but he opened it for us one Monday afternoon and over six strange hours Gillen and I slugged it out, drowning a relationship in recriminations and stout while the band played in the corner and an array of friends and musicians played pool and drifted in and out of our messy break up.
Hugh O'Conor, Cahal Watters and the rest of the crew seemed hardly there, lurking behind towers of glasses and drifting in and out of the dry ice. By the time we reached the real fight scene, the atmosphere in the Hacienda was so charged that we were ready to take each other on – a notion that had seemed absurd to me earlier in the day when it was suggested that I would be getting into a physical with Tommy Carcetti from The Wire .
We had a fight coordinator, Jonny Figgis, who came to teach me how to slap a man without hurting him. However, Aidan rightly deduced that with no acting experience and half an hour left to film, it would be easier for everyone except him if I just let fly.
And so I had my first experience of slapping someone full force in the face. Six takes later and the scene was finished. If Valentine was hurting, he didn’t show it.
I Draw Slow launch their new album White Wave Chapel in Whelans of Wexford Street on Saturday March 1st See idrawslow.wordpress.com for more