Friday 22 February 2019

Robert Sheehan's brother Brendan forges acting career after losing three businesses in recession

Robert and Brendan Sheehan
Robert and Brendan Sheehan
Actor Robert Sheehan seen leaving Lillies Bordello in the early hours with his brother & fellow actor Brendan Sheehan
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Brendan Sheehan has taken the brave step of forging an entirely new career in acting after losing three businesses in the recession.

The 31-year-old from Portlaoise has been honing his craft over the past two years and currently appears in Shoebox Memories, the debut feature from young Irish director Jay Branagan.

It's a far cry from his previous life as a personal trainer, competitive bodybuilder, former Mr Ireland winner, and model.

"I had three different companies at different times, personal training, so it was daunting trying to change my life and face up to my businesses going under, actually accepting that," he says.

Brendan Sheehan and Daniel Mahony in Shoebox Memories
Brendan Sheehan and Daniel Mahony in Shoebox Memories

"The experience of that hardened me up so I don't really get daunted by anything anymore.  It was a hard time.  There was a lot of soul-searching, it was soul-destroying, but rebuilding and strengthening too."

Although his two paths in life may seem very different, the 6'4" actor believes his experience in business has helped in his new career.

"I think starting at an older age and having been in business means I can put structure on my days and goals in place and work at it rather than waiting for stuff to just happen."

Filming had also been an integral part of all his businesses whether it was video he filmed at the age of 24 to woo clients for his new mortgage business or appearing on TV3 with Paul Byrne of BodyByrne to talk fitness.

Brendan Sheehan (Brother of Robert Sheehan) and Joy Hawkridge at The Jameson Film Festival 2014 programme launch party at The Lighthouse Cinema Dublin. Pic: Brian McEvoy
Brendan Sheehan (Brother of Robert Sheehan) and Joy Hawkridge at The Jameson Film Festival 2014 programme launch party at The Lighthouse Cinema Dublin. Pic: Brian McEvoy

Brendan is the older brother of small and big screen star Robert Sheehan (27), best known for his roles in Channel 4's Misfits, RTE's Love/Hate, and Season of the Witch.

However, it was not Robert who encouraged Brendan to take the leap, but rather his girlfriend Joy.  He is moving to London with her this month and has secured himself a casting agent.

"When I first met her she said, 'Why don't you do a bit of modelling?' and I laughed in her face and said 'You're out of your mind' but she said she had a friend in the business and I was going to see her tomorrow, and I ended up getting one or two jobs," he reveals.

"She always said, 'You'd make a great actor'.  So it's her support and encouragement that made me kind of bite the bullet and go all out for it.  I wouldn't be able to do it by halves and if it wasn't for her I wouldn't be able to do it with everything. 

"I'm sensitive and fragile at the best of times!" he laughs.

As for Robert's input into his career, he says, "It's great to have access to him for the odd question but when I made the decision it wasn't really anything in consultation with him, it wasn't relating to him. 

"It was a bizarre thing I ended up in because I began to think, 'Maybe I am like Rob a bit' whereas I had never really thought of it that way.  Now that I'm beginning to understand [acting] we have proper chats."

In the early days, however, Brendan admits Robert probably didn't quite get what he was doing.

"I sent him one or two self tapes at the start and I look at them now and I can't believe I sent them - this guy is in the industry and I thank God it was only him that saw them!" he laughs.

"I was shouting my face off into the camera and jumping around, a blur running by the camera, so I stopped doing that and now we just have the odd conversation.  Now I'm beginning to get a few jobs he's beginning to think, 'Oh, right, maybe you can do this too'."

Asked if Robert was dismissive of his efforts in the early days, he laughs, "I think I was just really bad and he didn't want to be straight up with me and hurt my feelings!  He was being nice."

Shoebox Memories will premiere at the Dingle International Film Festival on March 18.

Young Irish director films debut feature 'Shoebox Memories' for micro-budget of €2,500 

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