Continuing our Big Interview series, we talk to actor Thomas Farrell about how he got into acting, coming face to face with Jonathan Rhys Meyers (literally), and what his plans are for the future.
I was born in 1978 to Tommy and Liz Farrell in the Combe Hospital. I lived in the Hill View Flats until they age of four when we were given a Counsel house in Sandyford. At the time I had one older sister and two older brothers. I went to Queen of Angels N.S. then onto St Benildu. I was asked to leave after first year because a teacher hit me, and I hit back. That was 1990, corporal punishment was abolished in 1986, but some teachers chose to continue it on long after it’s abolishment. I then attended St Ternans, my Mother and Father split when I was 12. My mother took with her and my younger sister who was 8 at the time, one year later my father raised us. I wrote my first two poems at the age of 12 thanks to Mr O’ Connell the English teacher in St Benildus. He got them published for me, and I was encouraged to keep writing by Mrs Spillane, a writer who’s daughter was my friend.
IFM: What drew you into wanting to become an actor?
I left School after doing well in my Junior cert. I went through many jobs, but I always found myself unhappy, until I found work as an electrician. After a few years I found myself very unhappy in the job, and left to find work in London. I lasted three months as a gardener before returning home, at a loose end I did a Fetac course. Part of it was Video Expression which I loved. When the course ended I found myself back on building sites – again very unhappy. I thought about the Video Expression course I done in which I played a Hitman, I loved it. I decided to apply to ‘Bull Alley Musical Theatre Training College’ which you had to audition for. I got in, and I fell in love with Classical Theatre. The very first time I was on stage we did a ‘Greek tragedy’, I picked up an Agent who wanted to start sending me to auditions straight away.
IFM: How did you get involved with ‘Adam & Paul’? And what are your memories of working on the film?
I auditioned and got the part. I had a great time working with Lenny Abrahamson – in my mind one the of the best film Directors. I worked with him when I was young and new to film, himself with Mark O’Halloran and the late Tom Murphy where very accommodating and a joy to work with.
Thomas Farrell in Adam & Paul
IFM: You also appeared in a number of episodes of ‘The Clinic’ as Dave McGinn?
I decided to take a year out and try my hand as a professional actor. After ‘Adam and Paul’ I toured with ‘Barnstorm’, a Kilkenny based Theatre company. It’s where I met my best friend Martin MaCann. We keep in regular contact and holiday together, it’s funny because his girlfriend Nina had just finished doing my make up on ‘The Clinic’. The set of ‘The Clinic’ was the most stress-free set I’ve worked on. Both cast and crew where a joy to work with, and Lisa Mulcahy is what we call in the business an Actor’s Director.
IFM: Tell us about how your role in The Tudors. How did it come about, and what was it like sharing your scene with Jonathan Rhys Meyers and a pre-Superman Henry Cavill?
Working on the Tudors was a bit stressful. I found Jonathan Rhys Meyers to be a great guy to work with, which was unexpected due to his bad press, Henry Cavill was also sound to work with. Kieran Donnelly was a wonderful Director, he knows what he wants.
IFM: What aspect do you enjoy most about acting and performing? And which do you prefer, Film/TV or on stage acting?
The thing I enjoy most about acting is becoming someone completely unlike myself. My idols are people like Sean Penn, Christian Bale, Dustin Hoffman and of course Marlon Brando. Do I prefer stage or Screen? I would have to say Stage. I love film, but the thing is they tend to cast you in similar roles.
IFM: You’ve recently completed work on ‘Griswold’ playing the role of ‘Hed’ at The Civic Theatre. Tell us about the play, and how did the two week run go?
‘Griswold’ went extremely well. It was set against the backdrop of post 9/11, telling the story of two Irish illegal immigrants in New York. Both in a co-dependant relationship with one another, two school friends who still depend on one other. It’s a non-sexual relationship, but an unhealthy one. The reason it’s set against the back drop of 9/11 is because of the co-dependant relationship between East and West. The Sunday Times said both myself and Shane Gaitley were very engaging. The Irish Independent noted what I was doing with my character, that is; ‘Hed’ is a prissy eccentric, who speaks as if he was raised by Butlers. He’s someone who’s a Agoraphobic, someone who’s ashamed of being Irish. He depends on Taigh (Shane Gaitley) to go and get money for food etc. He’s a person who hasn’t left the apartment since the events of 9/11, but wants to integrate and become an American, even developing an accent which he succeeds to take on at the end of the play. I really enjoyed working with Arnold Thomas Fanning, as I’ve gotten to play four characters. I don’t want to give too much away, as it returns to a new Theatre on the 14th of July for one week, although I won’t be playing Hed, as I’ll be on holiday for a week with my daughter.
IFM: With your completion of ‘Griswold’, what does the rest of 2012 have in store for you on the acting front?
I start rehearsals for ‘The Tempest’ soon, which will be on in the Iveagh Gardens in August. I trained with Andy Hinds (Classic Stage Ireland) who have cast me as Orestes in the ‘Oresteia’. He has been a both great mentor and a friend. We’ve preformed part one ‘ Agamemnon’ in the Project earlier this year. Rehearsals for part two start in November.
IFM: Is acting a career path you would recommend? And what advice would you offer to someone starting off?
I would say to any actor starting out; if you’re doing it for the money you’re in the wrong trade. If you love it, do it and keep trying. Never give up, take lots of classes and never give up on your dream!
Thomas Farrell Showreel: