Monday 23 September 2019

'I was gobsmacked' - Dane applies for role as extra on Virgin Media's new series Darklands... and ends up as star

Dane Whyte O’Hara said the crew had no idea that he didn’t act. Photo: Brian McEvoy
Dane Whyte O’Hara said the crew had no idea that he didn’t act. Photo: Brian McEvoy
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A boy of 16 is set for stardom after unknowingly applying for the leading role in a new TV crime series.

MMA fan Dane Whyte O'Hara saw an online advert looking for a young mixed martial arts fighter for Virgin Media's six-part thriller Darklands.

"I thought it would be something in the background. I didn't read where it said it was for the lead role," said Dane.

"I went for it and they were interested. They put me through some training and a couple of weeks later told me I had got it.

Dane Whyte O’Hara with Darklands co-stars at the Virgin Media launch this week. Photo: Brian McEvoy
Dane Whyte O’Hara with Darklands co-stars at the Virgin Media launch this week. Photo: Brian McEvoy

"I was gobsmacked. It's the first acting I've ever done and I did not expect it, especially when they were talking about the amount of people who auditioned for it.

"The one who doesn't act ends up getting the part - so it is definitely a confidence booster for me."

Dane, who has been doing martial arts since he was six, plays a boy on a tough estate where his family and friends are involved in crime.

He dreams of becoming a professional MMA fighter and tries to distance himself from criminal activity but keeps getting dragged back in.

"I was more excited than nervous the first day. I thought I would be on edge but I was straight up for it," said Dane, from Rush, North County Dublin. "It was brilliant and I loved every second.

"It involved taking time out and at first I thought I did not want to miss my summer - but I'm glad I did because missing this would have been the biggest mistake of my life.

"Nobody on set realised I had no acting experience, nor how young I was.

"So it was funny seeing people's reaction when they found out. But everyone on set was lovely, like a little family.

"My mates think it's brilliant I can get into something like this and break out from sitting at home and training and going to school.

"My parents are completely on board and were shocked when I got the part.

"But they were sort of expecting it because they have always seen something in me.

"My mam and dad and brother and granny are ecstatic for me and are the most supportive people on earth."

Neither mum Paula nor dad David were actors but they took him to kick boxing as well as Gaelic football, hurling, soccer and swimming classes as a child.

"The whole family is treating me like a celebrity but they keep my feet on the ground," said Dane. "My dad and mam keep my head screwed on."

Now Dane dreams of being an action hero like Bruce Lee and Jason Statham or fellow Dubliner Barry Keoghan, who is to star in Marvel Cinematic Universe's The Eternals.

"I'm definitely going to pursue acting and the dream at the moment is to end up in a solo action film or a Marvel or DC film," he said.

"So if there is anyone out there listening…"

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