“These days the Of­faly-born ac­tor can’t walk down a street with­out be­ing ac­costed by ea­ger fe­males. It’s a thing”

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Music -

from there I fell ar­se­ways in to the busi­ness.”

It’s no won­der Robert Shee­han fol­lowed his bot­tom. In per­son he seems far too pretty and mouthy for civil­ian life. He tried his hand at univer­sity but dropped out af­ter a year of film school at the Gal­way-Mayo In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy.

“I kept get­ting acting work,” he shrugs. “So what else I was I go­ing to do? Col­lege wasn’t right for me.”

Since then, do­mes­tic movies such as Sum­mer of the Fly­ing Saucer and Cher­ry­bomb have kept Shee­han off the streets – but tele­vi­sion has made him a house­hold name. Across the wa­ter, the erst­while star of Red Rid­ing may be the last best hope for Hip Hiber­nia. At home he’ll soon be dodg­ing Ai­dan Gillen in the sec­ond sea­son of RTÉ’s Love/Hate.

“You can al­ways work as an ac­tor,” says Shee­han. “There’s a per­cep­tion that ac­tors don’t work, but it’s ac­tu­ally as sta­ble as any other job. If you’re an in­no­va­tive per­son, wher­ever you are you’ll find work. Peo­ple come up to me and ask me ‘how do you get in to acting?’ Go per­form some­thing on the street. If you re­ally like acting you’ll act some­where. There are no lim­i­ta­tions. There will al­ways be backs of pubs. Don’t be afraid to make a cock of your­self, as Sean Con­nery might say.”

Shee­han’s non­cha­lance has served him well. His 2011 kicked off with Sea­son of the Witch, a ma­jor film fea­tur­ing him, Ni­co­las Cage and Ron Perl­man as be­lea­guered 14th­cen­tury knights.

“It was a very, very lux­u­ri­ant pro­duc­tion in­deed,” purrs Shee­han. “Ev­ery­thing was ex­trav­a­gant and mind-bog­gling in terms of time and re­sources. We shot in the Alps. I thought they were go­ing to move them. It was -16 [de­grees] when he shot in Hun­gary. My fam­ily came out to visit me and nearly died of the cold. But we had our five-star ho­tels.”

He was less com­fort­able with the stu­dio lust for num­bers. “When I was do­ing in­ter­views in Amer­ica jour­nal­ists kept ask­ing me about Sea­son of the Witch to­tals. It had opened well but wasn’t do­ing so well in the sec­ond week. Was I wor­ried? What was I go­ing to do? Sea­son was shot when I was 20: that’s three years ago. I don’t know any­thing about box of­fice and stuff like that. Once it’s made and passed on to the distrib­u­tors it’s theirs to sell. I’m not Nic Cage. I’m not the guy in the poster. I have the lux­ury of not car­ing. And I never want to care. Once you do you be­come a stu­dio ex­ec­u­tive, not an ac­tor.”

Killing Bono, he says, is dif­fer­ent. “It’s the one I do want peo­ple to like.” Based on jour­nal­ist Neil McCor­mack’s ac­count of grow­ing up along­side his in­fin­itely more fa­mous Mount Tem­ple school chum, di­rec­tor Nick Hamm’s film es­ca­lates the gen­tle rock ri­valry of I Was Bono’s Dop­pel­gänger in to a full-blown caper.

“The mem­oir was just a start­ing point. Neil McCor­mack has al­ready writ­ten in the Daily Tele­graph about Nick call­ing him up to say ‘Dar­ling, your life doesn’t have a third act, so we’re go­ing to give you one’.”

In Killing Bono, Shee­han and Ben Barnes ( Prince Caspian) es­say Ivor and Neil McCor­mack, a sib­ling-based act swal­lowed up by the great Ir­ish rock gold rush of the 1980s. Suf­fice to say, the McCor­ma­cks do not be­come the next U2.

“They kept us away from the real McCor­mack brothers,” says Shee­han. “We met them near to the end of film­ing, They make a cameo in a scene set in a strip club. They were lovely but we were per­form­ing as them so it was bit


awk­ward, to be hon­est. Sorry boys. We’ve spiced up your life and we’re do­ing your songs.”

The re­sult­ing tin­ta­marre was, alas, not all Robert Shee­han’s own work.

“I can plough through chords on a gui­tar,” he says apolo­get­i­cally. “But I played tin whis­tle and banjo grow­ing up, so gui­tar is not my main thing. I used to play tin whis­tle in the pub on a Mon­day night when I was a kid. There was a big gang of us, so I’d do a bit of whis­tle and banjo and bodhrán. The prin­ci­pal of the school al­ways let me come in late on Tues­days, be­cause he knew I was play­ing the pub un­til all hours.”

The epony­mous rock god, we are told, has given the thumbs-up to the Ul­ster-made pro­ject, though for Shee­han he re­mains as dis­tant as ever.

“I’ve still never been in the same room as U2. It’d be nice. I’m a big fan. Es­pe­cially the early stuff, like Boy and The Joshua Tree. But now I’m in the film where some­one is try­ing to kill them.”

Bono will have to wait. For the mo­ment there are half a dozen film en­gage­ments in the off­ing for Shee­han, in­clud­ing Sui­cide Kids with Ash­ley Wal­ters and the ti­tle role in David Bad­diel’s up­com­ing Romeo and Gertrude. There is also the small mat­ter of nail­ing his driv­ing li­cence.

“I’ve got my learner per­mit. I was on hol­i­day in Cam­bo­dia re­cently and this French bird or­dered me to drive her around on a dune buggy. If I can sur­vive Phnom Penh city on a dune buggy I reckon I can trans­fer those skills.”

He stretches out a lit­tle fur­ther on the couch. “Other­wise I’ll just have to go ev­ery­where in a dune buggy.” You have been warned. I wanted Mind Bokeh and Am­biva­lence Av­enue to com­ple­ment each other. I didn’t want to make Am­biva­lence Av­enue: Part Two. I wanted to merge them, but there’s def­i­nitely an over­lap be­tween the two. Af­ter fin­ish­ing Am­biva­lence Av­enue I wanted to make an al­bum that con­trasted with it – to rely on synths and drum ma­chines rather than gui­tars. I’ve learnt more new tech­niques and ac­quired more equip­ment, so I’ve got this wider pal­ette of things I can achieve. It’s also about get­ting more con­fi­dence. I like ev­ery track to have its own iden­ity and not to re­peat things too much but, that said, there are cer­tain sounds that are worth re­vis­it­ing. You can hear that Light Seep on this record sounds like a se­quel to Jeal­ous of Roses. I’m in­ter­ested in pho­tog­ra­phy and a pho­tog­ra­pher friend told me the word – pro­nounced bo-kah. It refers to the blurred sec­tion of a pho­to­graph, and it can mean “haze” or “blur”. The song of the same name is an im­pro­vised, am­bi­ent track and it makes me think of blurred, man-made city lights. I also wanted it to re­late to the hu­man mind and how we per­ceive things. Even though my al­bums have changed over the years, there are cer­tain themes I’ve never left. This flick­er­ing spots of light is right there on Fi on Mush Records [his first al­bum] and is still here on this.

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