This much I know: Marion O’Dwyer, Actor

One of the reasons I act is because I love figuring out a character.

I often liken it to doing crosswords, the figuring out part. Lots of actors love crosswords, myself included.

A Woman of No Importance, the Oscar Wilde play that I’m in at the moment, is packing them in. I love playing Lady Hunstanton. It’s unusual for me to play a lady of such high status! But she has a very warm heart and she’s a bit scatty, so I suppose we have quite a lot in common.

My worst habit is being lazy around the home and all that side of things. It’s a bit chaotic as I’m not very organised.

As an actor, it can be hard to manage your time off as you’re either madly busy or there’s nothing very much happening at all. At the moment, things are hectic as I’m rehearsing for a play in the Absolut Fringe during the day and appearing in The Gate at night. But I enjoy the changes of pace. The down side is that this business can affect relationships as the work becomes so important.

My first job was in a radio play that my father produced. He had been an actor himself before he went on to run the radio drama department in RTÉ.

When I told them I wanted to act, my parents were keen that I had something to fall back on. So, I did a secretarial course and got a job in the bank and acted at night until I got the chance to go full time. I think my mum shed a few tears at that point.

Michael Colgan in The Gate was always very encouraging. I had a lot of firsts in The Gate - my first few lines in a grown-up production and then my first proper part in Fathers and Sons. When Michael gave me the part, I asked him if I was actually getting paid? That made it pretty hard to negotiate my salary. After that, I got an agent!

Going full time into acting didn’t take much courage. It was what I’d always wanted.

At the moment, I’m writing a play in collaboration with my good friend and fellow actor Maria McDermottroe. I’m enjoying the process, I did a radio play before but this is my first attempt at actually performing my own work.

One of the biggest challenges life has thrown at me was losing my dad. He was ill for a few years. When someone dear to you passes away, you learn how to make it part of you. You certainly become a better person.

If I could change one thing in our society, I’d make sure every person got the same top quality health care. It’s appalling that we haven’t sorted that one out yet.

You need to be health conscious in this game, as the merest sore throat could have ramifications on stage. I’d say 80% of the time it’s healthy organic stuff and the other 20% its super noodles.

It’s important to live by some moral code. I can’t say I believe in God the way we were brought up to do so but I certainly pray in the wings before I go on.

My father always told me that the time to be nervous is when you are not nervous. The terror before a first night eases off as you get into the run. You learn to control the nervous energy and turn it to positive use and it can be what gives you your edge.

My guilty pleasure has to be trashy TV, stuff like X Factor and I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. At least with that it won’t take over your life. They’re only in the jungle for three weeks.

I don’t have great self-discipline around money, but I admire it in others. Budget? What budget?

So far, life has taught me to be kinder than you need to be as you never know what the person you are dealing with is going through.

Marion O’Dwyer is appearing in Oscar Wilde’s A Woman of No Importance at The Gate Theatre, Dublin.


Lifestyle

The long-tailed tit’s nest is an architectural marvel.Richard Collins: Altruism of the long-tailed tits or not

The flight that brought us home to Ireland after our seven months sojourn in the Canary Islands (half our stay intended, half not) was the most comfortable I’ve experienced in years. With a large plane almost entirely to yourself, you could again pretend you were somebody.Damien Enright: Wonderful to see the green, green grass of home

IRISH folklore is replete with stories of priests praying for fine weather to help farmers save their crops in wet summers. However, the opposite could soon be happening when divine powers may have to be invoked to provide rain. And not just for farmers.Donal Hickey: Praying for rain — in Ireland

Geography is often the defining factor for the destiny of an island. Those islands that lie close to the shore have often been snapped up by interests on the mainland and their morphology changed to something completely different.The Islands of Ireland: Tarbert morphed onto the mainland

More From The Irish Examiner