THE actor who stars as Irish television's greatest villain has revealed the burden of responsibility playing 'Nidge'.
'Love/Hate' actor Tom Vaughan Lawlor told the Irish Independent that such a harrowing role was all the more challenging because it was "so true to life".
The 34-year-old insisted that one of the underlying reasons the RTE drama was so popular was due to its terrifyingly realistic content.
Stuart Carolan's award-winning series is now in its third season and has seen Vaughan Lawlor's character Nidge take over from gangland leader John Boy (played by Aidan Gillen).
"It's so true to life, it's staggering how relevant it is," Vaughan Lawlor said. "The violence is upsetting to do and to watch, but it's very, very real and that's what great drama is – reflecting what goes on in a culture.
"When we film in these communities affected by this underworld, they tell us how accurate it is and how we're depicting something they have such an understanding of," he said.
He added: "Dublin is a small town and I think RTE has shown amazing courage in letting us tell the story."
In the latest episode, a double murder occurs where an innocent mother is shot dead by Darren ( Robert Sheehan), seconds after the same gunman shoots her partner.
The gritty second instalment, which had an average of 670,800 viewers, resulted in five complaints to RTE yesterday due to its aggressive content.
Father-of-one Vaughan Lawlor admitted that while he loves the challenge of playing Nidge, it could be extremely difficult at times.
"I was really pushed towards being something darker. There were some days that I found tough or certain scenes that did take their toll.
"The days were very long and intense, but that's the place you want to be as an actor, I suppose.
"There's no act that is done casually and with that comes a great sense of responsibility."
The London-based star said taking on the prominent position of a gangland leader in season three after the "authority and experience" of Gillen in the programme so far, forced him to up his performance.
"With Aidan leaving that challenged all of us to really raise our game in terms of our commitment and intensity. He kept us on our toes and when you were in a scene with him you'd have to be on the ball. But I think everyone did that."
While RTE has yet to give the green light for a fourth season , Vaughan Lawlor admitted the series is only getting going.
"I think there's a way to go yet, so those thoughts of [saying goodbye to characters] have to be put to the back of your mind."