Fa­mous the world over as star of Sleep­ing With The En­emy, Pa­trick Ber­gin is back on our screens as a new and in­trigu­ing char­ac­ter on TV3’s RED ROCK

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - FRONT PAGE - Ni­amh Walsh

Pa­trick Ber­gin ce­mented his place in cel­lu­loid fame with his por­trayal of Martin Bur­ney, the psy­cho­pathic hus­band of Ju­lia Roberts in the hit movie Sleep­ing With The En­emy. Ber­gin per­fectly por­trayed what is still one of the most sin­is­ter vil­lains to grace the big screen with such ease and con­vic­tion.

A delu­sional, ob­ses­sive-com­pul­sive ma­niac per­fectly pack­aged as a per­fectly pol­ished prince charm­ing, his deep, dark eyes cap­tured the essence of the char­ac­ter’s in­her­ent mal­ice. And while he does have a cap­ti­vat­ing gaze, it’s the voice of Mr Ber­gin that most en­thralls.

The star is set to make his de­but on TV3’s hit soap Red Rock when he will again play a sin­is­ter soul. His char­ac­ter is Jim Tier­ney, the grand­fa­ther of De­tec­tive Rory Walsh, who has a che­quered past and is set to make waves in the soap as she strives to pro­tect a long-buried se­cret.

Speak­ing to TV Week, Ber­gin said his tran­si­tion from big screen to small screen was very sat­is­fy­ing.

‘It was very en­joy­able to do. It was a great team and I think the series is ad­mirable and the sto­ry­line is very in­ter­est­ing. It’s a very pow­er­ful piece of drama,’ he says.

But he is giv­ing lit­tle away as to his char­ac­ter’s fate as Tier­ney strug­gles be­tween re­demp­tion and sav­ing him­self and his se­cret.

‘It’s the arc of a char­ac­ter. He very much has a past, al­though in his cur­rent man­i­fes­ta­tion he is a good man and he has a good heart. While it’s hard to say he has a moral position, he cer­tainly has a car­ing position,’ says Ber­gin.

But in a glimpse of what is to come, he hints at un­leash­ing his sin­is­ter side in Red Rock.

‘He is will­ing to do what­ever is nec­es­sary to get what he wants and do what he has to do,’ he says.

Ber­gin’s ap­pear­ance in Red Rock is sure to bol­ster the show’s al­ready grow­ing num­ber of view­ers. Since moving to a new time slot in Jan­uary, more than 1.5 mil­lion view­ers have tuned in, with an av­er­age of 200, 000 per episode.

Pa­trick Ber­gin lives in what he calls ‘The Ber­gin Tri­an­gle’ as he di­vides his time be­tween LA, Lon­don and his cas­tle in Co. Tip­per­ary. While ‘rat­tling around’ in his 15th cen­tury abode, he does keep in tune with Ir­ish tele­vi­sion and drama.

‘I have been fol­low­ing Ir­ish drama. Love/ Hate was par­tic­u­larly good. It was prob­a­bly the only thing I have ever seen on tele­vi­sion that phys­i­cally scared me. I have great ad­mi­ra­tion for ev­ery­one who worked on that; it was won­der­ful and it cer­tainly pi­o­neered that sort of ter­ri­tory. I worked on a film many years ago called The Courier, with Gabriel Byrne. It was one of the first Ir­ish films to at­tempt the Ir­ish crim­i­nal un­der­world. And it has come a long way since then. I think the sense of re­al­ism . . . TV al­lows you to have a sense of re­al­ism that prob­a­bly a fea­ture [film] doesn’t.’

Ber­gin is enor­mously proud of the Ir­ish con­tri­bu­tion, both past and present, to the arts.

‘I think the Ir­ish his­tory in the arts, in all ar­eas of the arts – in act­ing and drama – is sec­ond to none,’ he says.

While he is proud of his ca­reer and his fam­ily, Ber­gin’s bari­tone fal­ters a notch at the men­tion of his father.

It is clear that his late dad Paddy had an enor­mous influence in his life, and Pa­trick tells me he was a ‘won­der­ful man’. Paddy Ber­gin was a Labour politi­cian whose prin­ci­ples seem to be a guid­ing bea­con in his life.

‘My father was ab­so­lutely a great man,’ he tell me. From the arts to pol­i­tics to fam­ily, his father has, it would seem, been a dis­tinct force in the suc­cess that is Pa­trick Ber­gin.

‘My father started an act­ing theatre in Car­low called The Lit­tle Theatre, which still ex­ists. I col­lected an award on his be­half a few years ago. He started it in the late ’40s with a group of other peo­ple. He es­sen­tially was a Labour or­gan­iser and he wanted his work­ers and peo­ple around him to know how to walk and talk at the same time, as well as study lit­er­a­ture. Act­ing is a very no­ble ca­reer. And cer­tainly to study drama, even if one wasn’t to be­come an ac­tor, is a great as­set to a per­son.’

While he has not strayed into po­lit­i­cal life, it is not a course that he has yet aban­doned.

‘It crosses my mind all the time. I think pol­i­tics is part of what it means to be a hu­man be­ing and to be in­volved in some shape or form. But whether to make it a ca­reer; that’s a dif­fer­ent mat­ter. I mean, a ‘ca­reer politi­cian’ doesn’t ex­actly have a nice ring to it. But it’s a hard job and one could talk all day about the ide­al­ists in pol­i­tics and the cor­rupt politi­cians and I’m cer­tainly very, very in­ter­ested in it.

‘I think the elec­tion of Trump and Brexit has cer­tainly po­larised peo­ple and made them fo­cus on who and what and why they sup­port var­i­ous the­o­ries.’

While Pa­trick may seem to have an idyl­lic ex­is­tence – liv­ing in a cas­tle, with a suc­cess­ful ca­reer span­ning four decades – he has fought the good fight against his many de­mons.

He gave up drink af­ter some words of ad­vice from Shane MacGowan.

‘That was quite a few years ago, when we used to hang out in Cam­den town,’ he says. ‘He leaned across me and said: “Pa­trick, you are drink­ing too much.” ‘And I looked at him cock-eyed and said: “Re­ally, Shane?”

‘I used to do gigs on a Thurs­day night in the Sir Richard Steel in Cam­den town,’ he says. ‘Op­po­site the Round­house, there was a Greek Restau­rant called the Marathon.

‘What­ever money we made from play­ing that Thurs­day, we would go down there and stay there all night. Ev­ery­body came there be­cause it was be­fore the ex­tended li­cens­ing laws – and tech­ni­cally, as long as you bought a meal, you could drink there un­til four in the morn­ing. And peo­ple did, and some­times didn’t even bother with the meal.

‘Shane used to come in and it was re­ally nice – and that’s where he said it to me.

‘I am glad to hear that he has curbed his al­co­hol in­take and cer­tainly I have stopped, and it has been noth­ing but a joy to stop. I went as far as I could pos­si­bly go with drink­ing. I drank Canada dry, for a start!’

Love/Hate is the only thing I have seen on TV that re­ally scared me

Shane MacGowan leaned across and said: ‘Pa­trick, you’re drink­ing too much’

When he’s not rocking around his cas­tle in Cloughjor­dan, he can be seen at Brux­elles Bar in Dublin with book in hand, wa­ter in glass and wait­ing to de­light the crowds with a song.

Fight­ing his de­mons, Pa­trick em­braced re­li­gion and be­came a reg­u­lar church­goer while also em­brac­ing the prin­ci­ple of Bud­dhism.

Again, his father’s influence is ev­i­dent in his faith. When asked if his faith been shaken by the most re­cent rev­e­la­tions in­volv­ing the Catholic church, the ac­tor ad­mits he was shocked.

‘It’s very shak­ing and shat­ter­ing [the Tuam ba­bies]. I re­mem­ber my father in Car­low caus­ing some dis­tur­bance there be­cause he re­alised that chil­dren were be­ing sold to Amer­ica from Car­low way back, even then. It’s some­thing that we have to be on guard for all the time – that there are peo­ple who are be­ing so cruel and so un­kind to chil­dren.

‘My father stopped it. It was from a con­vent of some sort, the de­tails of which I don’t ex­actly re­call. It was my sis­ter who pointed it out that it was hap­pen­ing and he went up there and stopped it.’

Ber­gin met his former wife, Paula Frazier, a Bri­tish wo­man of Afro-Caribbean de­scent, in the early 1980s. They mar­ried in Trinidad and Tobago in 1992 and he once said of Frazier: ‘I loved her be­fore I even knew her name.’

To­gether they had a daugh­ter, Ta­tiana, who lives in the UK. She has fol­lowed him into the ‘in­dus­try’ and, while she is still at col­lege, she also works as a film ed­i­tor.

His voice is pep­pered with pride when he talks about Ta­tiana.

‘She’s study­ing me­dia and she is a very fine ed­i­tor at the mo­ment. She still has a few years left at univer­sity,’ he says.

When I ask if he is con­cerned about his daugh­ter pur­su­ing a ca­reer in a no­to­ri­ously tough in­dus­try, he has no qualms.

‘Too much is made of the act­ing world be­ing tough. Ev­ery world is tough. Do you know ANY easy jobs? There’s no easy jobs and the act­ing has a very real ed­u­ca­tional value.’

Of his own ca­reer choice, he has no re­grets and in­sists that act­ing teaches a lot more than bring­ing a char­ac­ter to life.

‘I have no re­grets at all. On all lev­els, it teaches you con­fi­dence, it teaches you to find your voice. You end up read­ing, which is ob­vi­ously very im­por­tant for per­sonal devel­op­ment on all lev­els and life.’

And while his most fa­mous movie may be Sleep­ing With The En­emy, he is most proud of an­other movie.

‘Per­son­ally and un­ques­tion­ably it was a film called Moun­tains Of The Moon, which took me to Africa, and it was around about the time of the big suc­cess of Sleep­ing With The En­emy.’

He also takes great pride in the fact that he spent many of his younger years in Dublin’s Drim­nagh and made his way from there to Hol­ly­wood. ‘I’m proud and glad to be there, to be close to Drim­nagh.’

As well as his star­ring role in Red Rock, Pa­trick also has a movie in cine­mas now, ap­pear­ing with Cil­lian Mur­phy in Free Fire.

He is also reignit­ing his mu­si­cal ca­reer with some high-pro­file per­for­mances both here and across the pond. Tonight he will be join­ing Brian Kennedy on stage in con­cert in Lon­don, and just last month he sang to huge crowds in The Con­ven­tion Cen­tre in Dublin in aid of Haiti.

Ap­proach­ing his 70s, he shows no signs of slow­ing down. But where to next for the screen star? ‘I’ve got a cas­tle down in Tip­per­ary so I’ll prob­a­bly be like a dither­ing lu­natic down there,’ he laughs.

When I ask if there is a lady of the manor, he re­verts to his scary Bur­ney voice. ‘That’s my busi­ness, ev­ery­body is spe­cial in my life.’

Red Rock is on TV3, Mon­days at 9pm. Free Fire is in cine­mas now.

Grand­fa­ther: Ber­gin as Jim Tier­ney with Chris New­man as Rory Walsh in TV3’s Red Rock

Man about town: Pa­trick Ber­gin still cuts a dash as he nears 70 With friends like these: Pa­trick with Ju­lia Roberts (left) in Sleep­ing With The En­emy and with Uma Thur­man (above) in Robin Hood

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