Tuesday 27 September 2016

Crashing star Damien Molony a stealth hit on British TV

Actor Damien Molony has quietly invaded TV screens across the water

Anne Marie Scanlon

Published 22/02/2016 | 02:30

Chameleon: Damien Molony plays Anthony in Crashing.
Chameleon: Damien Molony plays Anthony in Crashing.

Damien Molony is the most 'unactorly' of actors. There is no bravado, grandiosity or showbiz anecdotery with this man: he is quiet, softly spoken and unassuming.

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Molony is a good-looking fella, but not in an alarmingly handsome way, which means he has a chameleon quality that allows him to disappear into his characters.

His ordinariness was key to Anthony, his character in Crashing, the comedy series that just finished its run on Channel 4. Anthony is a nice guy, well-intentioned but a bit of a wimp (and a bit of an eejit too). As a character, he's the polar opposite of Molony's other big TV role, DS Jack Weston in Suspects, the mostly improvised Channel 5 cop drama that also stars Cold Feet veteran Faye Ripley. Jack is a real lad - cocky, sure of himself, verging on swaggering. He's very sexy, too - a sharp contrast to the uptight vampire Hal, Molony's first ever TV character in cult hit Being Human.

Molony always wanted to be an actor, but growing up in the village of Johnston Bridge, Co Kildare, he had no idea how to go about it. His father is the local doctor, and Molony manages to make the ordinary things of his childhood sound magical: "I grew up loving the showmanship of WWF wrestling, the humour of The Simpsons, the heroics of MacGyver," he says. "I was always in awe of… the ceremony of ordering popcorn and Maltesers and taking your seat at the cinema or the pantomime at the Gaiety."

After leaving school, Molony went to Trinity College Dublin where he did a four-year degree in business and politics. Instead of making a beeline for Players, the college's famous acting society, he avoided it: "I always thought you might need an 'in' with Players," he explains. When Molony did eventually become involved, it was by chance. "A guy on my course was supposed to be doing a part in Two Gentlemen of Verona. He came up to me one day and said 'I'm terrified. I can't do it. Would you do it for me?'"

As he neared the end of his degree, friends told him he should apply to drama schools in London. "I thought, "Yeah, why not?'" he says.

The would-be actor found a place at the Drama Centre London and graduated in 2011. By that time Molony was already working professionally, having been spotted by a casting director for the role of Hal in Being Human, a BBC 3 show that had already run for three series when Molony auditioned. Hal had previously been played by Aidan Turner - Molony was then drafted in as a replacement. It was a daunting first TV job - yet he won over even the most ardent Turner fans with his performance: "It was a real honour to take over from where he left off," he says.

The revamped Being Human ran for another two series, after which Molony played a Victorian policeman in Ripper Street before moving on to a modern cop role in Suspects. And although Molony has worked solidly for the past five years and gone from success to success, he's still awestruck at how he makes his living: "I still pinch myself when I'm on set or when the director calls 'Action' or the curtain opens on stage. I've got butterflies in my stomach even now talking about it."

Crashing is on Channel 4 On Demand

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