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Actor and director Hugh O’Conor: ‘I would love to have had a meal with Orson Welles. I know he’d be so much fun to hang out with, even if a bit terrifying’

The writer on crying at MasterChef, immortality and amusing the Moroccan locals with his broken Arabic


Hugh O'Connor. Picture: Amelia Stein

Hugh O'Connor. Picture: Amelia Stein

Hugh O'Connor. Picture: Amelia Stein

Dublin-born Hugh O’Conor’s first film appearance was at age 10 opposite Liam Neeson in the movie Lamb, and he later won an award for his role in the Oscar-winning My Left Foot. He studied drama at Trinity College and received a Fulbright scholarship to attend NYU Film School.

What’s your earliest memory?

Being pushed around a park in Vienna when my parents were living there, but I may just be remembering an old photo.

When and where were you happiest?

I try to live in the moment. I’m working on a long job in Morocco right now, and while it’s a challenge at times, I know I’m really lucky to be here.

What keeps you awake at night?

It’s 5am and I’m worrying about making a fool of myself in a national newspaper as I try to write these answers.

What’s your least, and your most, attractive trait?

Shyness, because it can come across as rudeness, which I really don’t like in others, while my most attractive trait is clearly my sparkling personality.

What trait do you deplore most in others?


What’s the first thing you’d do if you were Taoiseach?

To the relief of all, I would immediately resign.

What’s your biggest insecurity?

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Does crippling self-doubt count?

Who would you most like to go for a pint with?

As I’m away from home for a few months, I’d love to go for a drink with my friends. Dom, JB, let’s go!

Which fictional character do you most identify with?

Calvin (and Hobbes).

What is your most treasured possession?

Probably my battered old Hasselblad camera which I bought second-hand and broken-down from my old friend Frank.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?

MasterChef, in all its glorious iterations.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

A teacher at NYU recommended that if we wanted to direct films, we should study still photography.

When did you last cry, and why?

Two days ago, watching MasterChef.

Who would play you in a film of your life?

Ideally, Olwen Fouéré.

Is there life after death?

I really hope so…

What’s your favourite word?


What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

You don’t know squat.

If you could have a super power, what would it be?

I’m plumping for that old reliable — immortality.

What’s your most embarrassing moment?

I have multiple embarrassing moments on a daily basis. Me speaking broken Arabic in the supermarket here greatly amuses the locals, and I’m always happy to oblige.

What’s the last TV show you binge-watched?

You already know the answer to this. It’s MasterChef.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever done?

I’m so fortunate to do what I do that even the hardest days bring some rewards.

Tell us a secret?

I have two toys on my bedside table to remind me of my brother Keith’s two girls, Fiadh and Síomha, who I miss a lot right now.

The book you wish you had written?

On Film-making by Alexander Mackendrick. I have two copies just in case.

The book you couldn’t finish?

I will finish that Proust book one day. I will...

What figure from the world of entertainment would you like to have met?

I would love to have had a meal with Orson Welles. I staged his only play, Moby Dick — Rehearsed, in my final year in Trinity, wrote my thesis on him in relation to Stanley Kubrick, and got to work on a HBO film about his life. He never stops inspiring me, and I know he’d be so much fun to hang out with, even if a tiny bit terrifying.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Heaven or Las Vegas by the Cocteau Twins.

Hugh O’Conor co-directed short film ‘Dolorosa’, which premiered at this year’s Dublin International Film Festival. It is available to view online at diff.ie until the end of the festival on March 4

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