More LOVE Than HATE Killian Scott tells Declan Cashin about his latest bad boy role in Black Ice and how he really wants to get a part in Downton Abbey
Ever since his role as Dublin gangster Tommy on the TV hit Love/Hate made him a familiar face in some 400,000 viewers' households, actor Killian Scott has grown accustomed to fans being shocked when they approach him in reality only to discover a polite, chatty southsider.
Day & Night can't help but comment on the disconnection between fiction and reality when we meet the 28-year-old in a hotel bar in Holborn in central London on a rainy Friday morning.
"I'm met with constant disappointment," he laughs. "That's my experience of this. People are always like, 'You're so posh!' And I'm like, 'I'm sorry'. It's a very common thing now. I still find it very unusual that more people don't seem to separate fiction and reality to a greater degree.
"But I find the context of my real life provides a great disguise – people don't expect to see Tommy sitting outside a cafe on South William Street pretentiously reading a paperback novel."
More about the show later, but first we must discuss Black Ice, a new Irish film directed by Johnny Gogan, in which Scott stars as Jimmy, the resident bad boy of a Northern border town where a group of youngsters put themselves and others at great risk by taking part in illegal race and rally driving.
Jimmy wants to be a professional rally driver, but his plans are complicated by his secret relationship with local girl Alice (Jane McGrath).
"I liked that the script didn't give too much away about Jimmy," Scott says of his attraction to the action-drama. "I got the impression from Jimmy that he likes a certain amount of chaos. It was only afterwards that it made me think of Heath Ledger's Joker – that point in The Dark Knight where Michael Caine says, 'Some people just want to see the world burn'.
"I think there's a quality in the character that just wants to get away with stuff, and to beat these people in the community – who are all various machines of repression – who just see him as a degenerate.
"I liked that loner aspect of him. He doesn't require anyone's interest or attention. He's almost completely self-contained. That's rare."
Was Scott the 'boy racer' type like Jimmy when he was a teenager? "Oh dude, not at all," he laughs. "I think twice before I get on a bike. The first car I drove was my mam's Honda Civic. Hardcore driving into UCD while people shouted, 'Loser!' And I'd think, 'I thought this was when I would be socially accepted!'"
Driving, continues Scott, has always been about freedom and independence, qualities he says he cherishes above all others. He certainly seems to enjoy those luxuries now in his professional life – he's moved to London permanently where he's auditioning like a mad yoke for movies, TV and plays. He has three others films, Calvary, Seventy One and Get Up And Go, in the can already.
It's all a far cry from his days playing Romeo in UCD's DramaSoc productions back when he was an arts student named Cillian Murphy. Oh yes, that's right.
"I remember when 28 Days Later came out, and Cillian Murphy [the other one] was nominated for an MTV award," he says. "I remember thinking, 'Fuck, who's this Irish guy who has my name who is doing so well?' Then the presenter pronounced his name 'Silly-ann'. That's the moment the C became a K."
Scott, the youngest of six (his brothers include Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy and Colin Murphy, a writer on this newspaper), studied acting in the Drama Centre – nicknamed 'the Trauma Centre' for its intense method training – also the alma mater of Michael Fassbender, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Tom Hardy.
But he left the course at the end of his second year to accept the part of Tommy in Love/Hate. "In the space of two weeks, everything changed for me," he says. "I went from preparing for my final year in drama school to being cast in the show.
"It was my first professional job, I was totally green. At the time I thought it was going to be four episodes and that it'd be it.
"The honest answer is that I really didn't expect it to be a hit, but I was pragmatic enough to know that with Aidan [Gillen] and Robbie [Sheehan] involved, it would get an audience, and the writing was very strong. I could see how it'd do well, but you just never know.
"Season three aired before Christmas last year and that's when as a show it blew up.
"We'd already been doing the show for two years so when that happened, it was an unusual adjustment. A very welcome one, of course."
He must be aware that his role on the show has made him a sex symbol? "Jesus Christ! I've literally never heard myself described in that fashion," he replies, squirming. As a heart-throb, the public wants to know - single at the moment? "I'm ... very content," comes his sly reply.
Scott says the fourth series is already filmed and ready to air on RTE by the end of this year, but as for the wider career plan, the actor is happy to keep going for film and TV parts in Ireland and the UK before attempting any move to Hollywood.
"For the first few years out of drama school, I was eager to go to the States," he says. "But my agent here told me to be patient, to wait for the right moment.
"I have no interest in rushing things. I'm very happy with the work I've done.
"I've spoken to an American agent. But for the moment I feel that there's more work to be done over here."
He pauses, before adding with a laugh: "I'm trying to get into Downton Abbey. I owe my parents that much. They've watched me on screen having sex, doing drugs and killing people. I think I owe them something at this point."
Black Ice is released today