Monday 22 July 2019

Adam Fergus: Clean Break To Big Break

After the runaway success of Love/Hate, RTE's drama department appears to be riding the crest of a wave and tonight a new late-night drama, from the same team, makes its debut. Clean Break, written by Wexford playwright Billy Roche, is about a kidnapping which goes awry, and the impact that has on the local community. It stars Dundalk-born Adam Fergus, an actor from the same management stable as Cillian Murphy, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Colin Farrell, with the looks and onscreen charisma to go as far as those talents. Fergus plays Frank Mallon, a car dealer who falls into severe financial difficulties and decides to carry out the "tiger kidnapping" of a local bank manager's family. "It's a meaty and very interesting role to play", Fergus says, on a brief break from the audition treadmill of Los Angeles. "As an actor you're always looking for a great script to challenge you and the cast just had great chemistry here."

It's the latest success in a career that has been building a head of steam for a few years now. Along with small roles in Proof and The Clinic, Fergus, who physically has something of Christopher Meloni about him, appeared in hit Irish movie Satellites and Meteorites with UCD contemporary Amy Huberman, and played one of the lead roles in Being Erica, an award-winning series on Canadian TV. He's also impeccably well connected, having been to school with Gordon D'Arcy and college with Chris O'Dowd, who provided him support in the early stages of his career.

Fergus's career as an actor seemed pre-ordained from an early age. Growing up in Dundalk, the son of a nurse and a recruitment specialist, he and his sister would put on performances for family and neighbours.

A former altar boy, he was disruptive in class at school. "I didn't get on with headmaster and there were girls at the school which were their own distraction." He was moved to Clongowes College where he flourished in the drama society. "Once a year we'd do a play in the drama festival and one year we did The Quare Fellow and that was when I thought I'd pursue it further. After school I did Dramsoc in UCD. Chris O'Dowd and Amy Huberman were in my year. Chris was incredible, he had the ability to hold a 500-seat theatre at the age of 20." He would later stay at O'Dowd's home in LA during 'pilot season' in 2011 when networks begin auditioning for new shows. "We'd stayed in touch on Facebook over the years and he was good to me", Fergus says. "As were many others. The Irish in LA really learn to pay it forward."

2011 was also the year that Fergus scored one of his biggest breaks. He had already performed a small part in Inside I'm Dancing and was appearing in Les Liaisons Dangereuses at the Gate Theatre, Dublin when he auditioned for one of the lead roles in Being Erica, a hit Canadian series. "I'll never forget it: I flew to London with just a little brown man bag because it was during the ash cloud drama. Because the airport was opening and closing they insisted I go straight from London to Canada."

The series won warm reviews and Adam, who is single, subsequently won a small role on Love/Hate and the part of Prince Richard in Scandal alongside Kerry Washington. Through the auditions and roles he also managed to find love here and there. "I had the odd romance. With people I was in scenes with? Yeah. I tend to stay friends even if it doesn't work out."

Next up for him is a new adaptation of Alex Haley's Roots. "It was one of the most popular series in history the first time around", says Fergus, "so it will be really interesting to see what people make of this. I think it's going to be huge."

Clean Break is on tonight at 9.30pm on RTE1

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