Since he picked up a best actor award at the 2015 Irish Film and Television Awards (known as the IFTAs) for his turn as a schizophrenic young man in auteur director Terry McMahon’s powerful film Patrick's Day, Moe Dunford, 28, has maintained his high profile, playing Aethelwulf in the popular Irish made television series Vikings on the History Channel.
Just as Game of Thrones has almost singlehandedly revived major film production in Northern Ireland, Vikings is doing likewise in the Republic, where the epic Irish scenery outside Dublin easily matches its epic scale.
“I’m working on season four and going back into it tomorrow,” Dunford, a graduate of the Gaiety School in Dublin, tells the Irish Voice. The show is filmed by a 90 percent Irish crew and Gabriel Byrne and Donal Logue also regularly appear in it.
“This season we're doing 20 episodes, and the thing I really like in the show are the fights. I love the horse riding and having my own fights to do. It’s like being a kid again!”
Being in Ireland, the atmosphere on the set, which features Irish and Australian actors like lead Travis Fimmel, can sometimes get rowdy.
“Travis is the biggest messer. I narrowly avoided getting an egg in the face yesterday waiting on a taxi driver to pick me up. He’s always throwing them. He sounds like the last person you want on the set but he’s a great guy.”
Since Dunford starred in his breakthrough performance in Patrick’s Day he has been working continuously. It’s not bad for a lad from a small town in Co. Waterford where, let’s face it, regularly working actors are pretty thin on the ground.
“Well when I got into acting I realized I couldn’t just be a movie star,” he says with a laugh.
“I lead a realistic life, unfortunately. I dream realistically.”
His lifelong determination to pursue his chosen career first formed when someone told him he couldn’t do something, he says.
“I would vow to prove them wrong. When I was 16 my favorite thing to do was bring a 10 pack of Amstel lager up to my house with my friends and talk about what we would do when we were older.”
Dunford worked tirelessly to make his dream a reality, but all the while he had peers tell him he would never succeed as an actor.
“I found the lad who used to tell me that I’d get nowhere as an actor and I invited him to the premiere of Patrick’s Day,” he says.
The less glamorous side of the acting game that people don’t talk about is all the work it takes, he says.
“There are hundreds of Irish actors out there grafting away. The difference between me now and where I was when I started is opportunity. That’s all an actor looks for. You stick with it or you don’t,” he offers.
“There are directors out there that will fight for you, before, during and after you work with them and that’s what Terry McMahon did for me. All that an actor wants to do is work with someone who will bring out their best, and work with someone with a bit of integrity.”
This year has shaped up to be a banner one for Irish filmmakers and actors globally, and Dunford knows it too.
“Sure look at us! For leading parts in movies now the Australians and the Irish are well up there,” he says.
“We don’t come with the perma-tanned excessive gym toned bodies that you see a lot of the Los Angles based actors who grew up in the city have. We’re more grounded. I think it is an exciting time for us.”
It’s been quite a journey since McMahon cast him, an out of work actor, in what he calls an amazing part.
“Two and a bit years later people are people are coming up and saying how the movie has helped them in their own lives. That’s the most gratifying part of my job,’ Dunford says.
“It was an intense experience to make but it was also a lot of fun. As an actor Patrick’s Day afforded me opportunities to go on and work with other people and I’ve been working constantly ever since.”