Monday 23 September 2019

Ireland must end reliance on big budget US shows, says Stephen Rea

Actor Stephen Rea
Actor Stephen Rea

Caroline Crawford

Actor Stephen Rea has said if Ireland is to start producing more homegrown Irish programmes it must move away from its reliance on big foreign productions like Game Of Thrones.

The actor - who has appeared in films such as Michael Collins, The Crying Game and Interview With A Vampire - insisted Irish crews and actors were as good as any in the world.

"The issue is making sure there's always enough work for them. They've got these huge series which do provide employment and they are all very good - Vikings and Game Of Thrones, they're great and provide constant employment for people - but they are not Irish work.

"They are brought in for tax reasons, and I get that, but I'd like to see more Irish film," he told the Herald.

Game of Thrones...Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark and Aidan Gillen as Littlefinger
Game of Thrones...Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark and Aidan Gillen as Littlefinger

The Belfast man said the main hurdle to encouraging more Irish work was a lack of funding.

"But I'm afraid it comes down to money all the time. The film board doesn't have enough money. It's always funding.

"When Neil Jordan did his first film that I was in, 'Angel', he did it for peanuts. It was the smallest amount of money but it was all they had.

"I think that's what should happen, people should work for as little as possible and just get stuff done," he added.

The actor, who was recently conferred with an honorary doctorate by NUI, Galway, also remembered playwright Brian Friel ,his longtime friend, who died last month.

"I was there at Glenties at the funeral. He was a legend, but the work is there. He was 86, it was a sad occasion but it's a warm occasion as well. It's awful for the family to lose anyone but his work is there," he said.

While he is one of the country's most-high profile actors, he admitted that despite spending a lifetime in front of audiences, he remains a very shy man.

"I am a shy man. As someone said to me early on in my career, acting is the shy man's revenge. So you can just make your plans and show people what you want them to see, you're less vulnerable oddly as an actor because you have the initiative," he added.

The actor has recently completed two series for the BBC, a dramatisation of War And Peace and Dickensian, a project which takes Charles Dickens's characters from all sorts of different books and throws them together in new plots, which Rea describes as "fantastic".

For his next project, he will return to the Abbey to appear in the David Ireland play Cyrpus Avenue. "It's a brilliant, brilliant play that you just couldn't turn down," he said.


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