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Charlie Haughey biopic is no hatchet job, reveals star Aidan Gillen

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Pictured at a press event to officially announce the broadcast date - Sunday 4 January 2014 - for new three-part RTE One drama, Charlie is Marcus Lamb who plays ‘Des O’Malley’, Aidan Gillen who plays ‘Charlie Haughey’ and Gavin O’Connor who play ‘Sean Doherty’

Pictured at a press event to officially announce the broadcast date - Sunday 4 January 2014 - for new three-part RTE One drama, Charlie is Marcus Lamb who plays ‘Des O’Malley’, Aidan Gillen who plays ‘Charlie Haughey’ and Gavin O’Connor who play ‘Sean Doherty’

Aidan Gillen as Charles Haughey

Aidan Gillen as Charles Haughey

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Pictured at a press event to officially announce the broadcast date - Sunday 4 January 2014 - for new three-part RTE One drama, Charlie is Marcus Lamb who plays ‘Des O’Malley’, Aidan Gillen who plays ‘Charlie Haughey’ and Gavin O’Connor who play ‘Sean Doherty’

RTE’S Charlie will hit our screens next month but the Haughey family have not yet seen it.

Eimear Haughey, daughter of the former Taoiseach, has previously expressed concern that the series would be a “hatchet job” on the former Fianna Fail leader.

However, Aidan Gillen, who plays a convincing Haughey, has revealed that if this was the case he wouldn’t have signed up for the role.

“If it was a sensationalist, hatchet job, I would not have been interested in any way in doing this,” the star said.

But the 46-year-old said that he did not think it was necessary to consult with Haughey’s family before filming.

“I studied a lot of footage. I was going for a middle ground, an approximation of what Haughey looked like and sounded like,” he said.

“Most importantly, what we were trying to get in this drama was the thoughts behind the actions. It is not sensational and quite understated,” he continued.

Created by Colin Teevan, the series does not focus too much on Haughey’s relationship with journalist Terry Keane. Had it done so, Gillen said he would have turned down the role because it would have moved too far into the realm of fiction. 

“Obviously it’s a recorded fact by now, I’m sure, that they had a long affair and that’s just the way it is,” he said. “I wouldn’t have wanted to pry into that”.

The Dubliner admitted that he had brief reservations about taking on the role of such a divisive character.

“From the outset I was well aware that it was going to be impossible to please everybody,” he confessed.

“People have very strong and active opinions on Haughey and it would’ve been an easy gig not to take – but it would’ve been crazy not to do it,” he added. “It’s a risk but that’s what you’re supposed to do.”

Despite having played the politician for three 90-minute episodes, Gillen is unconvinced that he has shown every side to his personality.

“There is certainly some mystery as to what would drive you to go on the journey that he did in the way that he did,” he commented.

hnews@herald.ie


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