Esther McCarthy.

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Irish actress Dominique McElligott breathes life into her character

Ireland’s Dominique McElligott has followed up House of Cards with a starring role alongside Kelsey Grammer, writes Esther McCarthy.

Irish actress Dominique McElligott breathes life into her character

Most actors live in fear of getting the dreaded script where they open the pages to discover their character has been killed off. Not so for Irish actress Dominique McElligott, who requested that producers on her new series allow her a fatal exit if she didn’t settle into the show.

She plays Kathleen Moore in Amazon’s new series, The Last Tycoon. Her character becomes romantically involved with top Hollywood studio executive Monroe Stahr (Matt Bomer) who is wrestling for control of the studio run by his boss, Pat Brady (Kelsey Grammer). The story is based loosely on the novel by F Scott Fitzgerald.

“Dominique fell completely in love with this character,” says writer/ director Billy Ray.

“When we were at first begging her to play this part, she wasn’t sure that she wanted to lock herself down to a series, so we had to promise her that if she wasn’t happy, that we would kill her character after season one!

“Happily, she was thrilled with the part and thrilled with the production and has now informed us that she wants her (Kathleen) to live a very long and healthy life.”

The Last Tycoon marks the fourth major TV series for Dublin actress McElligott, who starred opposite Kevin Spacey in House of Cards and Colm Meaney in Hell on Wheels.

The busy actress, who has made Los Angeles her home, said she’s looking forward to returning home to Ireland for a few months’ downtime for the first time in years.

“I’m really excited about coming back to Ireland. It’ll be my first time back here in ten years or so, because I was living in London before I moved to Los Angeles.

“I’m trying to organise bringing my dogs home with me because I hope to be in Ireland for four months, so I’ll hopefully be home in a few weeks.”

Glamour, backstabbing, and intrigue are all wrapped up in the glossy new series, The Last Tycoon, that brings to life the battle for control of a studio in 1930s Hollywood. The big-name cast also includes Lily Collins and Rosemarie DeWitt.

The industry today is not all that different from the one evoked in Fitzgerald’s book set in the 1930s, according to Billy Ray. “The biggest thing was Fitzgerald was writing conversations in Hollywood in the 1930s, and they were the conversations I was having in Hollywood in 2014, which was when I first read the book.

“I realised that the power dynamic hadn’t changed in any way in Hollywood; the same conversations about art versus commerce, and passion versus profit, that I was having my entire career, Monroe Stahr was having.”

“Adding to what Billy said, I think for me the idea of the America dream felt in the 1930s almost uniquely American, that anyone from any walk of life could become something else,” says writer/producer Chris Keyser.

“What happens to you when you pursue that dream is still interesting in this country, because things are not the same now. America 2017 is not the same place and neither is Europe, obviously.

“On a narrative level, I felt the triangle between Stahr and Brady and Brady’s daughter was completely irresistible, and when you threw in the component of Kathleen, and the component of Brady’s wife, it felt like it would endear the story.”

Interestingly, the series is set to explore the idea that the need for filmmakers to make a living during Depression-era America caused many of them to overlook the social issues that were emerging in Nazi Germany.

The series is set to centre on the growth in power of Stahr, a young man from a poor family of Jewish immigrants as he works his way up the Hollywood power ranks. This puts him squarely on the radar of a powerful studio boss, Pat Brady (Grammer) who both respects and envies the young pretender.A second series is currently being mooted.

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