Wednesday 23 October 2019

Rory Fleck-Byrne

Rory Fleck-Byrne, 25, is an actor who was born in England, but moved to Ireland when he was nine years old. Since starting his studies at RADA in 2007, he has lived in London

Actor Rory Fleck Byrne
Actor Rory Fleck Byrne

Ciara Dwyer

I live in a converted warehouse in east London. A friend of mine, who was at drama school above me, had been renting it for years. Actors are always coming and going, so rooms are always popping up.

Before that, I was living in an awful house in Brixton, sleeping on an air mattress. It got to the stage where I'd done the whole student thing and needed a place where I felt at home. In acting, you're always moving about, so I wanted something to hold on to. It's like the line in the play, Sweet Bird of Youth: 'In this ever-changing world, one needs something to hold onto.'

The converted warehouse has high ceilings, big windows and wooden floors. While it looks great, it's a nightmare to heat. We all go around in jumpers and hats, with hot-water bottles.

Some of my housemates are actors, and others are artistic, but not in the acting game, so there's a nice balance. We all hang out together.

I've just finished a part in the Gate Theatre as Nicky Lancaster in The Vortex by Noel Coward. It was great to work in Dublin. I have auditioned for several things since then, but I don't know what I'll be on next. But one of the projects is Bodies, a short film that will be shot in my hometown of Kilkenny. It's a black comedy about two undertakers struggling to stay connected to life.

If it's a good day, I'll have soaked my porridge the night before. I usually have it with strawberries, almonds and maple syrup. I used to hate porridge, but, once you add the fruit, it's great.

I need time to wake up in the morning. I like to do some running, yoga or just something to get my blood going. Actors are big into yoga because it's a good way of letting go of emotions. With acting, you're trying to be on all the time and it's so unstable, but yoga is a way of finding stability. Acting is like going for three job interviews a week and not getting any. You have to cope with that.

If I'm not working, I'm usually auditioning, so I'll have a script to read. I could be juggling three different auditions at the same time and learning lines for all of them. I go for all sorts of parts and like being as versatile as I can.

It's important to be as enigmatic and ambiguous as possible. Some days, I'm going for a part of a rough druggie, and, the next, I'm a middle-class English boy from the 1930s in a Noel Coward play.

The other week, I was growing as much facial hair as I could as I was going up for a part in Love/Hate. I worked on my inner-city accent and wore the right clothes. People can take you at face value, so it's important to dress for the part and, basically, spoon-feed them.

At the end of the day, we are offering a service, and you have to think of yourself as a product. You have to be able to show yourself, and how they want to see you. Sometimes, you have to see it like that because, if you're going in as you and taking everything personally, you'll think you're not a good enough actor.

But it's not that. Rather, it's simply that they don't want your service right now, and you have to think, 'How can I be of better service to the next person?' I've had to adopt this sensible attitude to survive the audition process. You don't have any control about the parts you get, but, also in life, we don't have any control. There's no such thing as security, ever. Once you can accept that, you can be happy in where you are in your life. That's what I aim for. My parents are incredible people, and they brought me up to stay positive and focused.

Years ago, I used to roll out of bed at 11 or 12, but your body clock is all over the place if you're in a play. You're used to working until half 10 at night and then being high when you come off the stage. Now, whether I'm on stage or not, I force myself to get out of bed between eight and nine. It's important to have some kind of structure. If I'm in London, I might meet a friend for coffee, or go to a gallery or see a movie. The Curzon cinema shows some great films.

Living in London has given me so many opportunities as far as acting is concerned. After graduating from Rada, I went straight into a play – Antony and Cleopatra – in Liverpool with Kim Cattrall. I was expecting her to be the same as her character, Samantha, in Sex and the City, but she wasn't. She's very connected to the earth and I'm a big fan of her anti-ageism campaign.

She's a wonderful stage actress and a very strong woman. She bought us a ping-pong table for the theatre, so that, when we weren't on stage, we could be playing. And she even bought us all our own bats. She's a sweetheart.

In my spare time, I like to play the guitar and piano, and sing. I write songs as well. Music is a huge passion for me, and my way of escaping is to record my own music on my laptop. This year, I'm going to focus on putting down more material. Bon Iver and James Vincent McMorrow are my heroes.

I suppose I go between being quite a wild child – l love clubbing – and then, at other times, I'm very straight and composed. If I'm in a play, I get butterflies beforehand, but you can channel that. Then it's bang, you're on stage and it feels fantastic. I love to feel the energy of an audience and even their stillness. You have to be actively listening and that's what makes you feel so alive.

But coughing and rustling sweet papers really get my goat. You often hear audience members doing a running commentary during the show.

When I come off stage, I either go for drinks with the cast or head home to watch Breaking Bad. I'm obsessed with it. For the past three years, I've said that I will be in bed at 10, but that never happens. I stay up watching stuff and reading, and then I don't go to bed until two.

I'm content, but I don't get complacent. My mind is already thinking about the next job because I have to.



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