The challenge is to keep mental clarity and focus when times are bad, as well as good.
There were 12 people in my drama class in Trinity College and only three are still making a living from acting — a modest living. When the phone call goes and you get a job — you are ecstatic. But, if you don’t get an audition you tend to question yourself and your direction. Knowing your objectives clearly and writing them down certainly helps.
It’s difficult to realise the impact which a piece of work will have, when you are in the process of making it. For example, I’m thrilled about the massive reaction which the film A Terrible Beauty has received. It’s based on the tragic events which occurred during the six days of the Easter Rising, so it has a universal story.
Growing up, shy was not the word for me. I’d talk to anyone. I was always telling jokes and putting on different voices, although I wanted to be a footballer rather than an actor. But my dad was in the Abbey and his parents were involved in amateur drama in Sligo, so I suppose I didn’t lick it off a stone.
I have an ability to be very relaxed in stressful circumstances.
When I finished school, I trained as a chef. I worked in hotels all around the country and in London too.
I teach drama to kids. If a kid is not having fun, they are not going to learn. I think our schooling system should be focused more on fun and enjoyment rather than the constant emphasis on memory and exams. It’s an issue with how everything is taught.
I like a challenge. Such as when I forced myself to work in Alaska on the fishing boats to make some cash. You get paid depending on what you catch. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve done. I lasted three months.
The biggest impact of becoming a parent was the realisation that I don’t have to think about myself all the time any more.
When it comes to finances, my attitude is to believe everything is going to be OK. And it usually is.
The trait I most admire in others is honesty.
Having worked at other things, I still find acting extremely exciting. I enjoy the challenge of managing to control my emotions and of being present in every scene. With each word, I have to think what verb connects with that word? What is the emotion? What am I thinking? There is a constant internal dialogue connecting you to each scene, even when another actor is speaking.
I don’t think I’m very disciplined. I take each day as it comes. I’m quite a lazy person.
I’d love to work with the Coen Brothers. I love their humour and quirkiness. Their work captures the essence of humanity and is always real and believable.
I think Daniel Day Lewis is a phenomenal actor. What he does is he gives himself every possible chance to make something special. He doesn’t leave it to chance. He does his homework to the nth degree. I think I would be too self conscious to stay in character the whole time though, even when off-screen, as he does.
I believe we make our own destiny. I only tend to say ‘that was fate’ after something happens.
I try to keep fit, know the value of a healthy diet, regular sleep, meditating on things to get clarity in my mind ... but I’m still Irish at end of the day, so its quite easy to undo all the good work in a short space of time!