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.


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