The shape I'm in: Gavin O’Connor

The shape I'm in: Gavin O’Connor

The shape I'm in: Gavin O’Connor

WITH roles in prolific TV dramas like Taken Down and Charlie, Cork actor Gavin O’Connor is having a successful career. However he also has a passion for writing, and his first novel, Mojo, was a labour of love.

“I sat down one day on the good advice of a friend of mine and it just poured out of me. I finished it pretty quickly. It’s about a boy band who reunite 10 years and 10lbs too late only to be double-crossed by their ex-manager and record company. There was so much comedy to mine from that set-up too,” he says.

To his surprise and delight, the book has gained traction on social media, with followers sharing shots of Mojo from around the world. “One of the most gratifying things is people sending pictures from all over the world including Canada, America and even an oil rig on the North Sea. It’s really gratifying to see after an idea that started in your head. I must have 100 pictures from all over the world. It ties in nicely with the book because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. I got a message on Twitter from a complete stranger saying she was laughing out loud reading my book on the train.”

Gavin, from Blarney, Cork, studied English and psychology in UCC before studying drama in Trinity College Dublin. Among his many career highlights was working with Niall Toibin on The Borstal Boy in Cork in 1995 and later this autumn he will return to the city to work on a yet-to-be-announced project.

He’s currently developing a film of his own. “While You Were Gone is a film that I’ve written. It’s about a couple dealing with bereavement and it’s in the advanced stages of development.

“After Charlie and Taken Down I’ve gone for some major US TV shows like a lead in True Detective. It’s humbling to be asked but I guess the pool gets bigger. It’s a case of the right one landing at the right time. To be going up for those types of roles is the type of thing I’ve always dreamt about.”

What shape are you in?

I’m glad you’re not asking me this when we were shooting Taken Down as I had to put on around 16lbs for the role of Mackin. I gave myself the same amount of time to take it off which was about a month. I’m not in bad nick. I go to the gym a few times a week and I’ve found a routine I actually like, interval training on the cross trainer. That coupled with a little bit of weight training does the trick.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

I’m a bit of an amateur cook. Since my little boy Ben arrived eight years ago, we decided to cook farm-to-table as much as possible.

That’s the theory but sometimes a slice of pizza is way too handy!

What are your guiltiest pleasures?

That’s very easy — chocolate. I would eat my own body weight in chocolate if you let me.

What would keep you awake at night?

Like everyone else of my generation who bought a house before the crash and recession, you always have a little anxiety that you will continue to keep working and keep the show on the road. It’s been a tough decade for many people.

How do you relax?

Sport, although if the Cork hurlers or Munster are playing my poor wife might argue differently. I’m very passionate about sport. I love the build-up, going to matches and the post-mortems.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

I’m so lucky with my group of friends that I wouldn’t need to look elsewhere. If it were a dinner party outside of that maybe a celebrity Come Dine With Me with Gordon Ramsay, John Torode, Jamie Oliver and Mary Berry. Let them all slag the arse off each other off camera.

Your favourite smell?

Like the Hothouse Flowers sang, “there’s a smell of fresh cut grass and it’s filling up my senses”. I love it. It lets us know spring is here.

What would you like to change about your appearance?

I’m learning, very slowly, to try and age gracefully.

When is the last time you cried?

In the Abbey Theatre with peers and colleagues as a Noble Call for our cherished friend Karl Shiels was read out from the stage. Karl was a titan of our industry who selflessly sent the elevator back down to consistently help the next generation. A wonderful actor. He’ll be terribly missed.

What traits do you least like in others?

Intolerance and bad manners.

What traits do you least like about yourself?

I’m a little impatient, especially when people take shortcuts when they should be doing something properly.

Do you pray?

I don’t personally but a lot of people find great solace in it whether it be God or Allah or whomever they pray to and that’s all right with me.

What would cheer up your day?

I recently returned from a six-day trip and my son ran out to the street and jumped straight into my arms.

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