Misfit Robert Sheehan talks to Conor McKenna about Killing Bono, view Irish life and hopes for the future.
BAFTA award nominee Robert Sheehan has had a busy year: finishing with Misfits, starring in Killing Bono and Season of the Witch with Academy award winner Nicholas Cage. The Laois native has exploded onto the scene and looks set to make a bigger name for himself over the coming year. The cynical Nathan Young is a far cry from the nerdy Cormac MacNamara in the RTE production Foreign Exchange and emphasises the growth of Sheehan as an actor.
Sheehan made a name for himself early with small roles in big productions in RTE and in film, he explains how it all started: ‘I fell it mostly by accident and not much design. I first acted in a small play in Primary School, which had the snappy title, “Oliver with a Twist”. I played Oliver, and the play was a series of random comedic sketches roughly following the narrative of Oliver the classic!’ Sheehan’s big break came in 2003 when he was cast as O’Reilly in the film adaptation of Patrick Galvin’s novel Song For a Raggy Boy: ‘I was successful in getting a small part in Song For a Raggy Boy after a succession of open castings when I was 14 years old.’
More recently Sheehan was cast in a supporting role to Rupert Grint in the drama film Cherrybomb. This being Sheehan’s first major role in the film industry he describes his feelings on hearing of his casting: ‘It was one of great delight! I went and partied in celebration with my brother and a few mates in Dublin that evening.’ Rupert Grint, more famous perhaps for his role in the Harry Potter series, has often been described by his fellow cast members as likeable and Sheehan is quick to affirm this: ‘Rupert is a sweet, gentle affable human being, which worked well as it contrasted my loud, show-offish nature that I had on that job!’
‘Misfits was when the general recognition of my face started to occur on a far larger scale, but I have been doing stuff for years now so there has always been an odd and occasional recognition,’ explains Sheehan when questioned about his celebrity status. Despite this, he mentions that people at home haven’t changed their view of him much since his rise to prominence.
Sheehan remarks that due to his hectic schedule it has been difficult to get home: ‘I don’t go back very frequently. I’ve been back only once this year for example. Usually Christmas time is when we all converge upon the homeplace. I went back before starting rehearsals for “Playboy of the Western World” for a few days because I knew that, between rehearsals and the show itself, I wouldn’t get home until the end of the year.’ He is happy to get home however when he can to catch up with friends and family who are delighted with his success: ‘Thankfully when I go back I usually see lots of familiar faces that I grew up with, so there is only the typical reaction of seeing an old friend. A lot of people tend to be very complimenting and pleasant if they’ve enjoyed something I’ve been in.’
In Killing Bono, Sheehan starred as Ivan McCormick, the talented younger brother who is led astray by his sibling. Not a big supporter of U2 prior to the film, Sheehan states, ‘I became more of a fan after getting involved with the project, because I went and researched Bono and U2 a bit, and watched lots of DVDs of them in concert, holding 160,000 people in the palm of their hand, they are incredibly powerful.’ Sheehan’s performance was complimented by a number of critics as being particularly notable.
Looking forward to this Christmas, Sheehan is set to star in the BBC film The Borrowers. The film will also play host to Aisling Loftus, Sharon Horgan and Stephen Fry. On filming, Sheehan states, ‘I had wonderful amounts of fun working with the gang from The Borrowers in South Africa recently, Aisling Loftus being an unending source of comedy.’
Robert Sheehan’s future is undoubtedly bright for the present and he is unashamed in sights he sets for himself: ‘The list of people I would like to work alongside is a mile long, I had the pleasure of meeting with Christopher Nolan for an hour a while back, he would be right up the top of that list, obviously.’ Sheehan also states that he is interested in pursuing his career in the US.
In talking about the future, Sheehan lets slip: ‘Myself and a friend have decided to write a play together, and the subject matter is outrageous and strange, so something may come of that if we ever bother to put the effort in!’ Sheehan’s acting talent and his keen desire to start writing have the potential to propel his career to bigger heights.