While Simon Delaney enjoyed his role in big budget horror, The Conjuring 2, he’s still very much focused on his four kids, writes Esther McCarthy
HAS Simon Delaney been cloned? There he is presenting Saturday AM on TV3. That’s him treading the boards at the Gaiety’s Driving Miss Daisy. There he is in TV’s The Good Wife. And isn’t that his voice on the radio?
Delaney must surely rank as the hardest-working entertainer in Ireland, working across TV, radio, theatre and film. It’s been a busy time, he agrees.
“I’ve just finished Driving Miss Daisy at the Gaiety which ran for a month. I’ve got two production companies that I own and run. I present Saturday AM every weekend on TV3, I’m doing documentary stuff, radio, I have my own podcast launching next month.
“My kids have this really selfish habit of eating food every day. The eldest is nine and none of them are working,” he jokes.
But he admits that diversification and hard work are what invigorates him.
“I’ve no patience and I can’t abide being bored. Unless I’m doing three different things in the one day, that’s a waste of time,” he says.
“You have lean periods. I had a period a couple of years ago where I didn’t work for six, nine months. That gets in on you, you know, and you’re talking to friends, to fellow actors, and one of them said: ‘Get up off your hole and do something’. I literally got off the couch that day and I formed a media production company, Three Lads Media.
“When you’re not working, you get nothing. But that’s what drives you, that’s what gets you out of bed in the morning. Because if you stay home and worry about it, then you’re in serious trouble.”
On a practical level, Delaney is glad to be in demand. Just this week he welcomed his fourth boy, Lewis, into the world with wife Lisa, a sibling to Isaac, Elliott and Cameron.
“I want to secure my kids’ futures. Does that drive me? Of course it does. It’s not fame, infamy, stardom. I like going to bed at night thinking: ‘Well that’s the ESB bill sorted, I’ve taxed the car and we’ll get a shop in on Saturday’.”
It’s an attitude that has served the affable Delaney well ever since he brought out from his musical theatre roots to play the quick-talking Michael in RTÉ’s much-loved Bachelors Walk, about three single men sharing a house in Dublin’s city centre.
In recent years, the hard graft has brought more prolific rewards, such as the role in The Good Wife along with supporting roles in Paolo Sorrentino’s kooky This Must be the Place, and opposite Vince Vaughn in Delivery Man.
His latest project could be his biggest yet. The Conjuring 2 is the follow up to acclaimed horror director James Wan’s scary movie which was an international smash.
While that focused on the work of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), this looks at their investigation into the notorious Enfield case — dubbed ‘England’s Amityville’ — in the London borough in the 1970s.
Peggy Hodgson turned to the Church for help when her youngest daughter, Janet, became possessed by a demonic presence. Delaney plays Vic Nottingham, a family friend and neighbour who fought to protect them.
“What I’m proud about is getting the job obviously, but this is so completely out of the box for me. Everything I’ve done in the 17 years I’ve been working has been comedy-based, or comedy drama. This is different, even the character I’m playing. Horror is not my thing — and I’m a wuss. If there’s a bee in the house, I’ll move. I’d sell the house. Lisa’s the one who chases all the insects. If a moth farts in Balbriggan [near the family’s North Co Dublin home], I’m at the airport. So horror’s just never been my thing, and I think I’ve probably built it up over the years because I never sat down and watched one.”
Encouraged by his wife, he started to watch the first Conjuring film, and lasted six minutes before switching it off. So how did he handle being on the set of a fully fledged horror film?
“Even when I was reading the script I was thinking: ‘Oh Jesus’ because it was all priests and nuns and crucifixes, but it was actually one of the funniest film sets I’ve been on.
“James Wan has said that a horror set can be one of the funniest places in the world, whereas on a comedy set, you have to be funny while filming. On this, we had a great laugh. Patrick Wilson basically spent nine weeks trying to pick a name for my unborn child. His favourite name that he wanted to call him was Shifty. Or Ickabod. Or Hussein.
“It was a joy to watch James Wan do his thing. I’ve never seen a camera move the way it did on that film. The camera danced its way through the house. The attention to detail, everything was planned with military precision. You realise you’re in the hands of somebody who’s clearly at the top of his craft.
“This is the first studio picture I’ve done, and to shoot it on the lot at Warner Bros, that was an amazing experience in itself. We shot it on the same stage where Rebel Without a Cause was made. You catch yourself during the day, thinking: ‘James Dean was in this building... Ellen’s being shot next door... Conan O’Brien’s show is being filmed over there...’ it was incredible.”
Delaney got the part after doing a taped audition, a format that’s becoming common in casting but which he initially struggled with. “I had no faith in it, when I first did one. I like to be in a room with someone — I like shaking somebody’s hand, looking them in the eye and chatting to them.
“I didn’t believe in it, and I wasn’t booking jobs. But I changed my attitude, and I got the Sean Penn movie, This Must be the Place. I realised there was something in it, and you have to hone that craft. Now during pilot season you could be doing five or six taped auditions a week.”
With The Conjuring 2 likely to be a global smash, this could be Delaney’s big international breakthrough. But he considers himself a working actor and is wary of buying into any hype.
“The Conjuring was the number one movie in the world for three or four weeks. Will it make a difference? Will it open doors? I just want to work. I’ve got four kids and a mortgage. Working in the States might lead to something else. There’s always that chance. But as long as I can feed the family, heat the house and keep my Sky Sports I’ll be laughing.”
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