A film about the god­fa­ther of Belfast punk shows how the joy of mu­sic is a uni­ver­sal lan­guage that is big­ger than pol­i­tics

The Advertiser - SA Weekend - - MOVIES - words fiona pur­den

AN ALL-DAY date fea­tur­ing a break­fast fry-up and sev­eral pints of Guin­ness was the se­cret in­gre­di­ent be­hind Ir­ish ac­tor Richard Dormer’s lead per­for­mance in a film about Belfast’s punk era of the 1970s, Good Vi­bra­tions. Dormer en­joyed a fa­mous Ul­ster fry – in­clud­ing two fried eggs, black pud­ding and soda bread – fol­lowed by some pints of Guin­ness with the man he would be por­tray­ing, Belfast mu­sic im­pre­sario Terri Hoo­ley.

Hoo­ley be­came known as the god­fa­ther of Belfast punk af­ter open­ing record store Good Vi­bra­tions in the 1970s. His in­ten­tion was to defy the vi­o­lent pe­riod known as The Trou­bles, when there was vi­cious fight­ing be­tween Protes­tant and Catholic paramil­i­taries across North­ern Ire­land.

“Ba­si­cally I met Terri for a break­fast, we had an Ul­ster fry, then we went to a bar and had a few pints of Guin­ness in the morn­ing and then the af­ter­noon,’’ Dormer says. “Terri was aware I was go­ing to be play­ing him and he was ner­vous of me and I was ner­vous of him.

“Dur­ing the day lots of his friends were com­ing into the bar and there was a lot of loose talk­ing. I got the essence and spirit of who Terri is, from that day. We met for a few more pints, now and then, af­ter that.’’

Dormer, who has achieved world­wide fame for play­ing haunted out­law char­ac­ter Beric Don­dar­rion in the third sea­son of Game of Thrones, vividly re­mem­bers Hoo­ley’s ren­di­tion of his sup­posed Lon­don punch-up with John Len­non in the 1960s. Hoo­ley, an ac­tive peace cam­paigner at the time, was an­noyed that Len­non was a sup­porter of the hard­line guer­rilla Ir­ish Repub­li­can Army. The fight only ended when Hoo­ley’s glass eye landed on the floor.

“Terri never stopped telling sto­ries about the fa­mous people he had met and had al­legedly met,” Dormer says.

“Ap­par­ently he met John Len­non at a party in Lon­don, they ended up in a punch-up when John Len­non sug­gested the IRA needed sup­port. There was also a story about Terri shar­ing a joint and a bot­tle of rum with Bob Mar­ley. Terri knew a lot of people and a lot of people re­spected him be­cause of his pas­sion and he was try­ing to make a dif­fer­ence.’’

Good Vi­bra­tions fol­lows Hoo­ley’s life, be­gin­ning when he lost his eye from a child­hood ac­ci­dent. The movie fo­cuses on the early years of the open­ing of the shop and Hoo­ley’s sup­port of young lo­cal bands, such as The Un­der­tones.

Dormer says Hoo­ley’s life story is one that should be re­counted from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion, as it shows that mu­sic and life are big­ger than pol­i­tics. “I’m de­lighted that Good Vi­bra­tions is still go­ing strong be­cause we fin­ished film­ing three years ago,’’ he says. “I hope that in 50 years’ time the re­ac­tion is still the same, that with the joy of mu­sic, any­thing is pos­si­ble. If you fol­low your dreams you can al­ways find joy and hope in any trou­ble or ad­ver­sity. Ul­ti­mately life and mu­sic are big­ger than pol­i­tics and mu­sic is a uni­ver­sal lan­guage. Terri is re­ally a vi­sion­ary, God bless him.” Dormer was es­pe­cially in­spired by

Good Vi­bra­tions’ rare up­lift­ing theme for a story based in Belfast in the trau­matic 1970s. “Grow­ing up in war-torn North­ern Ire­land, at the be­gin­ning of The Trou­bles, it was like the film was my child­hood and iden­tity,” says Dormer, who grew up 13km south­west of Belfast in Lis­burn. “I loved the sense of light and en­ergy in the script and Terri’s great sense of hu­mour and his great at­ti­tude to life shines through in film.”

Dormer, 44, jokes he has be­come an overnight sen­sa­tion af­ter more than 20 years in the busi­ness – mostly with stage roles in Ire­land and Eng­land as well as play­writ­ing. The char­ac­ter of Hoo­ley marks his de­but in a film lead role, but he says he re­ceives most of his recog­ni­tion from play­ing the one-eyed Brother­hood With­out Ban­ners leader, the Light­ning Lord, who wields a flam­ing sword.

“It’s weird be­cause of all the things I’ve done, be­cause Game of Thrones is such a huge phe­nom­e­non, that is what I’m best known for,’’ he says. “Grow­ing up, I thought I would be an artist or writer, and I fell into act­ing by ac­ci­dent be­cause a drama teacher at my school told me I could make a liv­ing out of it.”

Good Vi­bra­tions opens on Thurs­day

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