'I know actors who couldn't deal with the pressure and had to go' - Johnny Ward on Fair City's gruelling schedule
He says Love/Hate was a walk in the park compared to Fair City
Actor Johnny Ward has revealed his Love/Hate filming schedule was a walk in the park compared to Fair City.
Ward, who plays Ciaran in RTE's hit soap, has been central to one of the longest-running and most compelling storylines Carrigstown has ever seen as Ciaran kidnapped Katy and held her captive for over a year.
And it meant a gruelling filming schedule for the Dublin actor.
"For so many actors that come in to Fair City there's an awful lot of pressure involved, it's a huge challenge and definitely, hands down, the best gig for any Irish actor in this country," he says.
"But it is very challenging and I know a lot of people who have in the past come in and couldn't deal with the pressure and have had to go out."
Johnny played Pauley in RTE's hit crime drama Love/Hate, which only filmed six episodes a year compared to Fair City's four every week.
"It's a challenge I got addicted to and I really enjoy doing, the same as everyone else in the cast," he adds.
When he originally auditioned for the Fair City role he was told Ciaran was "just this happy-go-lucky mechanic who liked women and motorbikes".
However producers later revealed the real plans for Ciaran but he was sworn to secrecy. He admits he felt "excited" but also "intimidated" by the storyline which would see him play opposite his childhood friend, actress Amilia Clarke Stewart.
"We used to meet up in each other's houses just to go through things, because we wanted to really nail it," he says, admitting there is no time for lengthy rehearsals in the Fair City schedule.
"One thing you don't really have in Fair City, which you'd like more of, is time," he says.
"There's no time for error for any actor at all, especially with those big gruelling scenes towards the last three or four weeks.
"We had to do 18 scenes in one day from about 7.30am to 6.30pm at night and you just want to be one step ahead. [It was] an extra rehearsal so we felt a bit more secure in the whole situation."
Wednesday night's episode ended on a cliffhanger with a Love/Hate Nidge-style 'Is he dead or not?' question hanging over the audience.
Asked whether Ciaran is actually dead or not, he says, "From an audience point of view it's ambiguous and if I'm 100 per cent honest I don't have a clue myself."
Either way he's hoping for a bit of a break.
"It has been really tough, especially for the last two weeks," he says. "There was one week where we had 57 scenes in a day and it's definitely, hands down, the most difficult and strenuous I've ever been for any role.
"So at the moment I'm just kind of on a break, planning a holiday. Fingers crossed I can enjoy a break and if I'm dead that's what I'll do and if not, who knows, I might be in McCoy's next week having a pint."
He admits he has endured his fair share of abuse while out and about with "women trying to hit me with their handbags" and eight months of people asking when he was going to let Katy out.
However, he says any criticism of the show has ultimately been good for ratings.
"You have the likes of Jim Jim and Nobby on FM104 doing 'Katy in the box', and you read the comments underneath and they say, 'I've never actually watched this. I'm going to tune in tongiht.' It's more appetite for the show. It's great," he says.
"Even the petition [calling for the end of the storyline] gets more people talking about it, more people tuning in to see the show. People write comments saying they're not going to watch until the Katy storyline is over and then you see the next night they're saying, 'Did anyone watch?' It's healthy stuff."