Friday 22 November 2019

A question of culture: Actor Simon O’Gorman

Simon O'Gorman as Bob Cratchit and Kevin Maher as Tiny Tim in The Gate Theatre production of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol.
Simon O'Gorman as Bob Cratchit and Kevin Maher as Tiny Tim in The Gate Theatre production of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol.

The actor outlines his favourite playwrights, actors and films.

Favourite playwright?

Shakespeare. I hated him in school. For an uninterested mind it is a job just to understand what he is saying. But when you start to live in his world and unpick the meaning of his words, the richness of his storytelling comes through. As an actor, no other playwright will give you so many magnificent things to say.

Favourite actor?

Paul Newman had everything. He was like silk on the screen. So many iconic performances, and he also drove racing cars. He was a ridiculously perfect man.

The best stage production I have ever seen?

The Gate's production of Waiting for Godot. It's hard to put a year on it because it was revived so many times. I've always found Beckett's work hard to get hold of, but watching those four lads do Godot I felt, for a few short hours, that I had a fragile grasp on the meaning of life. And it was funny, I hadn't expected that.

Favourite book?

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. I was sharing a dressing room with an American actor during a show in London and I asked him about the history of the American frontier. The next day he plonked that book on my desk. I ignored it for about a week before chancing a few pages. I was instantly hooked and, 1,000 pages later, having travelled with Cal and Gus from the Rio Grande to the plains of Montana, finishing it was like suffering a death in the family. It's storytelling at its very best.

The book I could never make it through?

Moby Dick. My mother was in the film with Gregory Peck so it's always been a story I wanted to explore, and the early chapters on the quays were great. But my dotey God, the endless chapters on the physiology of whales were unbearable. Life is too short for that kind of carry-on.

Favourite film?

The snob in me would like to say Das Boot, which is a great, great film. But going purely on the amount of pleasure I get from them, I will admit it's a toss-up between Dumb and Dumber and Bowfinger. They both make me laugh like a fool no matter how many times I see them. Eddie Murphy crossing the freeway in Bowfinger is the second funniest sequence in modern film history. The funniest is the end-title sequence when Murphy and Steve Martin do rubbish kung fu among hordes of ninja enemies. Genius.

Simon O'Gorman plays matchmaker Thomasheen Sean Rua in the new production of Sive at the Abbey Theatre until April 12. See www.abbeytheatre.ie

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