It's been a challenging few months for actor Johnny Ward. Last March, while wowing the nation with his gravity-defying dance moves in RTÉ’s Dancing With The Stars, his beloved dad died.
Though devastated, he continued to perform, going on to the finals, to honour his father’s dying wishes. But there were more difficulties to come.
The day after DWTS finished, his mother had a heart attack. Then, in April, his long-term relationship broke up.
“Life’s been difficult,” he says. And you can only agree with him.
To mark Father’s Day, he posted an image of a pocket watch, inscribed with the words, ‘Never forget that I love you forever’ — a gift from his dad.
He’s determined to focus on the positives. With a new role in the upcoming Copper Face Jacks: The Musical, he is focussing on his fitness — “You want to look as good as possible”. Also, now that he’s moved back home to support his mum, he’s enjoying having meals served up to him. And “you don’t have to pay any rent”.
Johnny Ward is an ambassador for Lloyds Pharmacy Heart Health Hubs, as part of its charity partnership with the Irish Heart Foundation.
What shape are you in?
I try to get to the gym five or six times a week.
Usually, I go in and run for 5k — I try and complete it in about 20 minutes — on a treadmill. And then, I lift some weights and go to the steam room; nothing mental. I don’t really go for the whole physical thing. Mentally, I just feel better.
What are your healthiest eating habits?
I don’t eat breakfast. I find that I’m just not hungry in the morning. I wake up and have a black coffee. If I’m feeling tired, I’ll have a Berocca Boost. I took it during DWTS, when I was shattered, on Denis Bastick’s recommendation.
Before I go to the gym, I’ll take a caffeine boost - and, after the gym, I’ll take the protein whey.
Then, I’ll eat an omelette — I have one almost every single day — with salmon, chicken, or beef. Later, I’d have healthy fats, like nuts and avocados.
What are your guiltiest pleasures?
Loads: battered sausage and chips, cheeseburger and chips, spice bag, chicken curry, Mexican — anything.
I have a takeaway once or twice a week. Our local is John’s Takeaway, in Walkinstown, Dublin.
What would keep you awake at night?
I can take things too seriously. Sometimes, I have this dream I’m on set and I just can’t remember my lines: it’s horrible.
How do you relax?
At the gym, or sometimes I go out on my Honda 1,000cc motorbike: it’s a great way to chill out.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Denzel Washington and Liam Neeson.
What’s your favourite smell?
Hugo Boss: it’s a limited edition in a silver bottle and it’s so bloody difficult to get. It’s like it has been discontinued.
What would you like to change about your appearance?
My ears; they are just too big. Also, I have half eyebrows — it’s very strange.
When is the last time you cried?
A lot’s happened in my life — my relationship breaking down, my father dying, my mother having a heart attack the day after the DWTS final — and last Monday it just hit me.
What traits do you least like in others?
Some actors seem to be on stage all the time. They never switch off.
It’s that saying: you want to be careful who you meet on the way up, you might meet them on the way back down. I know actors who have got a lucky break and they just change.
What traits do you least like about yourself?
I wish I didn’t take my work as seriously as I do. There are good things about it and it pays off, but it has its ups and downs. Relationships, in the past, have obviously suffered because of it.
Do you pray?
Absolutely. I believe there is a God. I also pray to my best friend — he took his own life in 2012 — my dad and grandparents.
What would cheer up your day?
My niece. She’s an actor and has just finished Junior Cert. I got to act alongside her in Fair City, where she plays Ellie. She looks up to me, I look up to her.