The se­crets are out on Genevieve’s lat­est roles


When the first trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hit the in­ter­net ear­lier this year, the se­cret Genevieve O’Reilly had lived with for al­most a year was fi­nally re­vealed.

The Dublin born, Ade­laide raised ac­tor was play­ing the piv­otal sup­port­ing role of Mon Mothma, the Rebel Al­liance leader who re­cruits young out­law Jyn Erso (Felic­ity Jones) and pairs her with Cap­tain Cas­sian An­dor (Diego Luna) for a covert mis­sion to steal the plans for the Death Star, the set up for the events in the orig­i­nal 1977 movie.

“My in­box was sud­denly very full be­cause I hadn’t told any­body I was do­ing it,” O’Reilly says. “So when the trailer was re­leased it was very ex­cit­ing — for me too, which was great.”

It’s par­tic­u­larly heart­en­ing for O’Reilly, who played the role in Re­venge of the Sith but her scenes ended up be­ing cut.

O’Reilly, born just a few months be­fore the orig­i­nal film was re­leased, has al­ways been a fan. “Isn’t ev­ery­body a Star Wars fan? Imag­ine a story that can bring grand­par­ents, par­ents and chil­dren to the cin­ema. It is a true phe­nom­e­non that all be­gan in the head of one man.”

O’Reilly is well known in the UK where she’s ap­peared in a num­ber of big TV shows in­clud­ing Spooks, Day of the Trif­fids, The Hon­ourable Woman and in the ti­tle role in Diana: Last Days of a Princess.

Fans of Episodes will re­mem­ber her as the blind wife of a TV ex­ec­u­tive, Merc Lapidus, and she’s re­turned home for roles in the BBC se­ries Ban­ished and the ABC’s re­turn from the dead se­ries Glitch.

O’Reilly also re­vis­its one of the strangest true crime sto­ries in Ir­ish his­tory in the new SBS drama The Se­cret (mild spoiler alert), the chill­ing tale of how an af­fair between den­tist Colin How­ell (James Nes­bitt) and Sun­day school teacher Hazel Buchanan (O’Reilly) led to the mur­der of their part­ners in 1991.

The pair were up­stand­ing cit­i­zens who met at the lo­cal Bap­tist church group in Col­eraine, North­ern Ire­land. Man­ag­ing to make the mur­ders look like sui­cide, they got away with the crime for 18 years.

“I didn’t know the story at all,” O’Reilly ad­mits. “So I had a bit of catch­ing up to do be­cause Jimmy (Nes­bitt) is from that town, he knows all the peo­ple.”

The most fas­ci­nat­ing part of the story is try­ing to un­der­stand how two God-fear­ing, re­spected mem­bers of the com­mu­nity could some­how ra­tio­nalise their ter­ri­ble deeds as jus­ti­fied.

“It’s ex­tra­or­di­nary,” she says. “Within the right­eous­ness of their re­li­gious be­liefs they be­lieved some­how that God would ap­prove of mur­der be­fore di­vorce.”


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