‘Variety the spice of life’ for Sheehan who talks Love/Hate, theatre, Misfits and reveals his new Blockbuster US movie The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones set in New York City
From immortal misfit to The Mortal Instruments, success has come on all plateaus for the
incomparable and chameleonic Robert Sheehan who has had hit shows in both Ireland and the UK and now looks set to break America.
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Love/Hate may be the title of the universally acclaimed RTE drama that he stars in but there are no doubts in people’s minds which of the two words they would use for the young Laois man, as critics have fallen over themselves to heap praise on Sheehan and the show in general. With the gangland drama about to end its third season with an explosive finale this Sunday, Sheehan talks about his character Darren Treacy and his gradual submergence into Dublin’s gritty, criminal underworld.
‘Darren has been a complete hoot to play, especially this season. With the first and second season, the momentum built slowly and we seen Darren with family and with Rosie really trying his best to stay out of this life but in this season he doesn’t have either. There is a void there, he has nothing left and I think we have seen him this season being turned completely. He now has no moral compass, so we have seen him struggling to survive, acting remorselessly. And for an actor that is incredibly fun to play’.
Love/Hate’s success has not come without controversy this season however as people have described some of the more violent and depraved scenes as disturbing and hard to watch. Sheehan states that this is a testament to how accurate of a portrayal of Dublin’s underworld that the show is.
‘I think it can be shockingly and coincidentally close to the truth sometimes, which is worrisome for Stuart (the writer). Especially this year, for example in the first episode we had a gangster guy raping a girl and three weeks before the show aired that actually happened and it almost looks in bad taste to then air it but it is a terrible coincidence. There is a huge suggestion of violence in the show but that’s the life these guys live, it’s very accurate, perhaps too accurate. And that is down to Stuart being given more of a free rein, collaborating with RTE and I think it’s worrisome for him how true to life the show has become’.
With Love/Hate’s ratings threw the roof and Sheehan’s former show Misfits one of the biggest shows in the UK, the 24 year old states that the success of both shows took him by surprise.
‘It’s always impossible to tell. You just never know and I have been lucky both times to put myself in the hands of people I have trusted. When we started filming Misfits (where Robert plays immortal superhero Nathan Young), we were all going around in orange jumpsuits picking up litter in an urban area and the amount of strange looks we got...people saw us and the cameras and they thought we were doing some sort of a documentary on youth crime or something. But I still remember going into the editing room, all five of us with the creative team and we saw all the twists and turns, the scenes stylised and it was mind boggling. So I was lucky both times to have an incredible creative team behind me and most of the credit goes to them’.
Robert’s newest venture looks set to make him a star on this side of the pond too as he has taken on a major role in the Hollywood adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s novel The Mortal Instruments: The City of Bones set mainly in New York. With the huge success of young adult supernatural novels being adapted into movies in the past (Harry Potter and Twilight), there can be no denying the potential of the Mortal Instruments series and one look at the trailer suggests that it will be a momentous hit with audiences.
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‘I have a great luxury now of being able to say yes or no, of being able to pick and choose roles. I love being involved in a project that will push me...variety is the spice of life so I like doing different things and I think I would always love to do stuff in Ireland, the UK and America. I get bored easily and need to be doing different things’.
The Mortal Instruments will not be Sheehan’s first taste of a big budget Hollywood movie as he has previously starred in Season of the Witch with Hollywood heavyweight Ron Perlman and Oscar winner Nicholas Cage.
‘It really gave me a taste of how much of a logistically nightmarish experience being in a big movie like that can be. It was quite a surreal experience. We were in the Alps for 5 weeks and then Budapest for 2 months. It was freezing and long hours. So long sometimes that you would feel like breaking down and weeping! Those guys (Perlman and Cage) were great though, good manners, gents! And I think that is why they are where they are. They are patient, talented and adaptive and have the stamina to put up with the long, long hours. They have set the bar very, very high’.
When asked if there are any actors or directors that he would like to work with in the future, Sheehan keeps it Irish when revealing his list.
‘Oh God, there are too many to name! There are so many people....but do you know who I met lately who I thought was a really interesting guy? John Michael McDonagh (writer/director of Ireland’s biggest comedy last year, The Guard) so I would love to do something with him in the future...I like everything he is doing and just think he is an incredible writer and director. In acting...I have always loved the work of Cillian Murphy..I think he is a really great actor and has had an interesting career. He is a real believer in looking inside yourself when playing a character and has flourished playing strange, outsider sort of characters that are great to watch. He relishes playing them and I relish him relishing them! I actually seen him perform on stage recently enough and am just like a little girl when it comes to him....’Oh Cillian can I buy you a drink?’...can I comb your hair?!’’
Sheehan has not ruled out the possibility of returning to the stage himself in the near future, a move that would indeed elate many Irish theatre lovers in New York City.
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‘Theatre is a really great experience, a really addictive buzz. I did Playboy of the Western World in the Old Vic in London and loved it. It’s great having a crowd there and that was the Quintessential Irish play, the mothership of Irish theatre. I was actually on stage last Sunday too in Ireland in Vicar Street for Front Line Defenders, headed by Martin Sheen, where actors gave a collection of readings from people who have fought to defend human rights. It was a great cause and a great night so yeah I love the theatre. I think I could become something of a stage whore!’
It may be hard to believe given the large body of work that Robert Sheehan has contributed in his 24 years but the young actor actually does get time off and states that he loves to travel when he can.
‘I just love travelling, I love going to different corners of the earth and figuring out as much as I can about this crazy world’.
Sheehan states that there will be a fourth season of Love/Hate but remains tight-lipped about whether or not he will be in it as his character’s fate looks precariously bleak. The finale of Love/Hate will air this Sunday and The Mortal Instruments: The City of Bones is slated for a 2013 release with Sheehan starring alongside fellow Irishman Jonathan Rhys Meyers.
Here’s the trailer for “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones”:
Originally published in December 2012.