This much I know: Aaron Monaghan, actor

I’m an accidental actor. Growing up in Cavan, I was quite shy and I probably still am in some regards.

I have no idea what attracted me to acting although they do say it is the shy man’s revenge.

I was the youngest of six, and very much treated as the baby, for the first 12 years of my life, until my little sister came along. 

Then, my parents started fostering when she was four so there were always lots of people around and I was always fighting for attention.

I got involved with youth drama in my teens. It became my weekly opportunity to express myself and to play. It was only ever a hobby as I always loved drawing and planned to become an architect.

I didn’t know you could become an actor. I’d never met one and thought you had to be born into it until I was offered a part in a play which led to me deciding to study acting at Trinity.

Confidence is something I struggle with.

But I have the ability to become very focused on a task — anything from a crossword puzzle to a Rubik’s cube — once I get stuck in.

I exercise a lot. Training, or doing yoga or any form of physical activity, gives me a huge sense of wellbeing.

I’ve discovered there is no such thing as unwinding in this business. 

I’ve been very lucky as I have not been out of work for more than two months at a time.

Even if I’m not working, I will be going to workshops, or reading, or keeping in shape for the next part.

I’m engaged to an actor — Clare Monnelly who played Fidelma in Moone Boy. We met through work and will be married at New Year.

My biggest challenge is to find something that challenges me. My idea of misery is to be bored or feel trapped doing a play or a job that doesn’t challenge me.

If I won the Lotto tomorrow, I’d keep on doing good plays.

If I could be someone else for a day, I’d be Muhammad Ali or Conor McGregor. I love the idea of how a boxer prepares for the moment and then goes out there and faces the unknown.

The best advice I’ve ever been given about life is the old adage to “be in the moment”. And, as bad as things get, to remember that this too will pass — embrace the bad moment. It will get better.

The best advice I’ve ever received about acting is to show up, work hard and play nice.

My biggest fault is trying to please other people.

There was a time when I lost all faith in any type of afterlife. But my dad passed away when I was 22 and, as much as I still don’t necessarily believe in an afterlife, ever since then I do sometimes feel there is an energy out there.

I’m not a very ambitious person. I just want to do good work. Having done a lot of theatre, I think I never considered I’d be good enough to do film.

To do film you have to stop doing theatre. And yet I’ve done five film and TV projects in the last year alone.

Acting for the camera is an art form. I had to get better at it and to find resprect for it. 

I’ve just finished filming on Assassin’s Creed with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotilliard, The Foreigner with Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan, and Maze with Tom Vaughan Lalor.

As an actor, you have to learn how to cope with disappointment. You can’t take rejection personally. When I hear I’ve got an audition, I treat it like bad news “here’s two days work I wasn’t expecting”. 

If the auditon is at 4pm on a Tuesday, I promise myself I will have a treat of going to a movie at 5pm, so that the whole day isn’t just about the audition.

So far life has taught me to be grateful.

* Aaron Monaghan plays Ray in the forthcoming Druid production of The Beauty Queen of Leenane, which opens in the The Town Hall Theatre in Galway on 15 September, before touring to The Everyman in Cork, Lime Tree Theatre in Limerick and The Gaiety in Dublin. 

www.druid.ie 


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