Today is ‘Buckets for Barnardos’ Day, the charity’s national collection day and Leitrim star David Rawle has come on board as the charity’s newest ambassador.
caption: Now in transition year, David Rawle says his teachers do not give him special treatment. Picture: Patrick Bolger
TEEN actor David Rawle is Barnardos’ newest ambassador.
We’re sitting at a children’s table on tiny chairs sipping tea and eating biscuits at the charity’s family support centre in Mulhuddart, Dublin.
“Is it OK if I sip away?” he asks.
The star of the hit sitcom Moone Boy is dressed in a Barnardos T-shirt and is enthusing about the work the charity does.
“I was extremely excited to get involved,” he says.
“I hear about all their good work and just to be a small part of that is an amazing thing.”
He’s full of chat, talking about the charity, his TY year, his first live action film and the fact that he’d jump at a chance to do a film of Moone Boy.
“I loved Moone Boy and if they said they were going to do another one, I’d leap to do it,” says the 15-year-old. But for fans of the series that managed to be ‘charming, magical and clever all at once’, as one critic described it, there are no plans for another series or, indeed, the rumoured movie.
Though, Martin Moone still looms large in David Rawle’s life. Ask him how he’s coped with fame and he says nobody believed he was in a sitcom with Chris O’Dowd until it finally came out on TV.
“I invited all my friends over to my house to watch it and tried to fast-forward all the bits I was in. At first, they were just surprised but everyone was really supportive.”
He says his life at Carrigallen Vocational School in Leitrim is the same as it is for every other pupil.
“The teachers certainly don’t treat me differently; I wish they would,” he laughs.
However, newer pupils who haven’t met him before still do a ‘Don’t I know you from somewhere?’ double-take when they first see him. He acts out that jerky head moment with perfect accuracy.
“A lot of people would come up to me and go, [switches to deep Leitrim accent] ‘You the lad from Moone Boy?’”
Interlocutor: “Sound.” [and goes about their business].
You can almost see the interaction the way David Rawle tells it.
When you ask him what he does when he’s not filming or acting, he says he’s thinking about filming or acting.
“I am a huge film buff. I spend all of my time watching films. I am obsessed.”
His favourite actor is a tie between Bryan Cranston from Breaking Bad and Jack Nicholson.
“I would watch anything Jack Nicholson is in. I think he is absolutely fantastic.”
When someone jokingly says that, at age 15, there’s a lot of Jack Nicholson he won’t have seen yet, he does a hilarious riff on The Shining before adding quickly, “Of course, I wouldn’t know anything about that”.
He’s certain now that acting is the career for him.
“Recently, I’ve decided that this is the thing I love the most and this is the thing for me. I really want to try to get into this business as much as I can.”
In his next film, Property of the State, he plays a young Brendan O’Donnell — the Clare man who was convicted of shooting dead three people in 1994 — which is due out in November.
O’Donnell was given three life sentences for killing Imelda Riney, her son Liam and Fr Joe Walsh. He later died in prison.
As David Rawle says, “it’s a horrific story”.
Yet he talks about the teenage O’Donnell with such insight and maturity that it’s hard to believe he is still a teenager himself. He turns 16 next month.
He was too young to remember the story that shocked the country in the early 1990s, but he prepared for the role by asking other people about it and tried to understand how a troubled and very disturbed young man became a killer.
“When my character comes into it, he’s sort of at a stage where things are looking up,” Rawle tells Feelgood.
“He’s doing well at school and he’s doing well on the hurling team and then all these bad choices he makes lead him to the end of the film when, as everyone knows, he killed three people.
“The film explores how his childhood led to this. He made some bad choices and was sent down a bad road.
"The story is told from his sister’s point of view but it could have been a very different story if only he had a really loving, warm environment where he might have felt safe.”
He stops for a moment, and then muses that an organisation such as children’s charity Barnardos could have made a real difference to O’Donnell who slipped through all the support networks as a child.
He loved the challenge of playing Brendan O’Donnell, but he also wants to try different aspects of the business; directing and producing, for instance, and theatre too.
He marvels at a recent performance by Chris O’Dowd — they’re still in touch through social media –— who played the vulnerable Lenny in a stage version of Of Mice and Men.
“They filmed it and showed it in our cinema in Leitrim, his local cinema. He played Lenny. It just blew me away. He was just extraordinary.”
He’s also a fan of Daniel Radcliffe who, like Rawle, has been on screen from a young age. Unlike Radcliffe who says he is constantly mortified by his younger self, David Rawle doesn’t mind watching old episodes of Moone Boy.
“Every time I watch it, I remember that somebody did something funny that day or that was the day Barbara fell over. It brings back really warm memories of the wonderful times we had when shooting it.”
When he’s not filming, or mixing with the stars, he says he leads “a perfectly normal life”.
When we meet, he had five days to go before picking up his Junior Cert results, last Wednesday.
“I purposely didn’t do anything TV or film-related during the Junior Cert because if I did, inevitably, I’d have missed something that would come up [in the exams]. I just kept the head down and hopefully it paid off.”
He’s delighted to be involved with Barnardos, but apart from that his life is filled with school, friends and family like every other 15-year-old.
And like every other teenager, he has a healthy regard for his older siblings.
When Feelgood enquires about his two older sisters, the shutters comically come down.
He mentioned them once in an interview and got “huge abuse”, not only from them but from aunts and uncles. So today, he’s saying nothing.
“I’m going to be careful,” he says.
He’s careful, too, not to get too caught up in the pressures of daily life, such as social media. “Social media is a very scary thing and you hear different stories, but I’ve never had a negative experience.”
He tweets, mostly about film, and says he’s not addicted.
“But it is very addictive, isn’t it? Looking at all the funny videos and cat pictures, that’s what I use it for,” he adds with a laugh.
It’s hard then to think of this funny-video-watching teenager in a dark drama dominating scenes with “rawness and elegance” as one reviewer said after Property of the State was shown at the Galway Film Fleadh in July.
But then again, that’s what they call acting.
David Rawle is definitely one to watch.
Dig deep for Barnardos today
Today is ‘Buckets for Barnardos’ Day, the charity’s national collection day.
Leitrim star David Rawle has come on board as the charity’s newest ambassador and is asking the public to donate what they can to give children across Ireland a brighter future.
“I’m delighted to be one of their ambassadors,” he says.
“You see that they put a huge amount of work and a huge amount of love into everything.”
Some 900 volunteers around the country will be collecting from 8am this morning until 8pm tonight.
Barnardos spokesperson Mary Gamble says the charity needs to raise €7m a year to keep its doors open for children and families.
“We simply couldn’t do it without the support and generosity of the public. Every donation is welcome,” she says.
Speaking about recent scandals in the charity sector, she says Barnardos is a completely transparent organisation that published its financial accounts annually.
Of every €1 Barnardos spent in 2015, 87% was spent directly on work with children and families, 12% was spent generating funds and 1% was spent on governance.
The money raised today will be invested in early years’ programmes, helping children who need extra support to prepare for the transition to primary school. Barnardos works with more than 13,000 families in Ireland.
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