A Woman Transformed
MADELINE MULQUEEN HAS SWAPPED LIMERICK FOR LA, AND THE RUBBERBANDITS FOR JACK REYNOR, HOLLYWOOD’S NEWEST HEARTHROB
M adeline Mulqueen is scoffing a bar of chocolate when we meet in the Merrion Hotel, Dublin. The darkhaired Limerick model, dressed casually in jeans, stands up and reveals a sl im and toned figure. She’s launching a Three mobile campaign today and h a photoshoot.
Smaller in height than you’d expect for a model she’s all well groomed hair and glowing skin. She holds her hand over her mouth before extending it: ‘Oh I’m sorry, you’ve just caught me tucking into a bar of chocolate and it’s not even lunchtime,’ she giggles apologetically, revealing one of those nondescript modern Irish accents that could be from almost anywhere in the country, and a confident manner far beyond her 23 years.
In the quiet lounge of the Merrion, heads turn. Who is this über confident chick with the ready laugh and the manicured nails? You will probably recognise her as the bridesmaid in the Rubberbandits video or from RTÉ comedy show The Republic of Telly. But most likely you’ve seen her in the newspapers on the arm of her boyfriend, and now fiancé, Irish-American actor and up and coming Hollywood star Jack Reynor — of Transformers fame (see page eight) who lives in Dublin.
The couple have been together for almost two years, first coming into contact on Twitter. ‘We were chatting back and forth randomly but there was no flirtation,’ explains Madeline. ‘We eventually met up when he was home and it was like two friends meeting. It all went from there…’
Glamorous and with a full-on sense of humour, Madeline has made a name for herself in the Irish showbiz world without the help of Jack. But then that was always her intention.
Growing up near Adare, Co. Limerick, she attended stage school ( Expressive Arts Stage School) from an early age. ‘I lived next door to my cousin Holly who is the same age,’ she explains. ‘We used to spend our time dancing and making up songs when we were younger.’
While her cousin took to the stage and is now living in London, Madeline became a model. It was a school fashion show which first gave her a taste of the catwalk. ‘I was completely bitten by the modeling bug after that. I joined Fiona Doyle’s modeling agency in Limerick so I was working as a model when I was still at school.’
It was the Rubberbandits video, released in 2010 for the song Horse Outside, in which she played a sultry bridesmaid that really got her noticed however. And yet, she says, it came about by chance.
‘I’m friends with everyone in the video – we all hang out together in Limerick. The lads [The Rubberbandits, the hip hop duo who wear plastic bags over their heads and prefer to remain anonymous] are very funny and extremely clever. I remember one of them rang me a day or two before the shoot. “We need a bridesmaid for a day. Will you do it?” she says, imitating a thick Limerick accent. ‘I didn’t know what it was about, but I agreed. When I got there and it was all cameras and lights and I was like, “Wait a second, what is all this?”’
Little did she know that the video and the song to accompany it would be the talk of the nation.
‘It was on the set too that she was first intro- duced to the director Peter Foot of Republic of Telly. This later lead to a collaboration on the TV show with the producer James Cottor.
‘I remember meeting James for the first time and he said, “I think you’re really funny. Would you like to do stuff on the show?” she recalls. ‘I jumped at the chance. It was a great experience and it really helped my confidence, too. I mean when someone says, “You’re a bit of craic and you don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s such a compliment.’ But surely she doesn’t lack confidence? ‘No, I don’t,’ she says matter of factly. ‘I think because my parents have been a great support. My Dad’s an engineer and my mother a make- up artist who also works in retail. They have always
My parents guided me, but let me be independent, too
guided me and advised me, but they’ve let me be independent, too.’
However she recalls the first time she moved to Dublin and the lack of confidence she felt at the time. ‘When I first moved here three years ago I was a like a lost kid in Tesco — everything just seemed so big and extreme. Now I look back and realise that I’ve grown up. I’m a lot more comfortable in myself than I used to be.’
Part of that confidence surely comes from her relationship with Jack Reynor.
‘He’s a great guy,’ says Madeline a little shyly for the first time. ‘He’s really grounded, he treats everyone in the same way. He’s just so genuine,’ her voice trails off and she laughs. ‘I won’t say any more in case he gets a big head.’
She says it helps that they’re both in the same industry. We have independent careers, but we support each other too and we understand that we need to be flexible about seeing each other.’
It was because of their relationship that Madeline spent much of this year touring with the set of the fourth Transformers movie — Trans-
formers Age of Distinction, in far flung destinations. She loved every moment of it.
‘It was amazing,’ she says ‘I got to visit so many places — LA, Hong Kong, Detroit. Detroit was mad,’ she grins. ‘ Can you believe they transformed the centre of Detroit into Hong Kong just for the film set? It was just amazing and we were there for three whole months.’
She points out that the furthest she’d ever been before that was Spain on a package holiday with her friends.
‘ Travelling was never something I’d thought of doing unt il I met Jack, I suppose because I’d moved to Dublin and was focused on working here,’ she explains. ‘But he encouraged me to do it and I thought, “why not?”.
‘I was only 21 at the time and people forget that half my friends were just finishing college and going on J1s for the summer.’
But the experience, she says, has changed her for the better. ‘I find that I appreciate Ireland much more now. I love coming back here despite the rain, and I never want to leave it again for more than a few months at a time.’
Although the model is returning to LA in a couple of weeks to accompany her fiancé on the Transformers publicity tour, she says she and Jack have no plans to move there permanently. And they have no immediate plans to marry either.
‘We don’t know what the future holds right now for both of us,’ says Madeline. ‘Besides we’re very laid back. I’d be happy to get married tomorrow on a beach in Salthill in Galway or somewhere random like that,’ she laughs.
And despite spending months on film sets in the last year, she says she has no desire to act herself. ‘I’ll leave it up to Jack,’ she smiles. ‘What he does it amazing, but it’s very intense and it involves long hours.
‘If I was to do it, I would have to be 100 per cent committed to it. I would never take on a role simply for the chance to be in a movie.’
She’s the first to admit that her life has changed drastically in the last three years, so how does she handle all this transformation?
‘I think you just have to dive into things and eventually find your feet,’ she says. ‘And be aware too that if things go wrong, there’s always something else you can do. I always say, it doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you and that’s become my motto.’
Plaudits: Madeline with Jack at
the IFTAs after party
Chicago: The couple with Frasier’s Kelsey Grammer
Wild child: Madeline parties with Bono and the Edge and, far right, Madeline as the wild bridesmaid in Horse Outside with The Rubberbandits