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I wept when Darren was killed -- Love/Hate's Robert

ACTOR Robert Sheehan always knew the mean streets of Love/Hate would catch up with him eventually.

The star of the RTE drama fully expected his character, Darren, would be killed off at some point -- but that didn't stop him having a "little weep" for the blue-hooded bandit.

In one of TV's best kept secrets, Darren was blasted in the back of the head during a season finale that was seen by nearly one million people.

But even before filming started on series three of the gangland show, Sheehan knew that Darren was for the chop.

"It was agreed that this was to be my last series. That's the nature of it. These boys live by the sword and die by the sword," explained the 24-year-old.

"I didn't know how it was going to affect me but it was a sad day. However, people are going to be stuck to the new series."

The TV heartthrob admits he was "massively surprised" at the international success of Love/Hate.

"Never in my life have I seen such a reaction to a TV show," he said, paying tribute to the show's writer Stuart Carolan and director David Caffrey.

"As it got better and better, RTE allowed more freedom and gave the show the free rein it deserved. That was factored in to my coming back to the third series."

While Robert said he had never experienced the sort of violence portrayed in the series while in Dublin or London, friends of his have been badly beaten up. Terrible acts of violence portrayed in scripts written months previously unfortunately reflected real life events.

He was speaking in his hometown of Portlaoise yesterday as he launched the Red or Black fundraiser for the Dunamaise Theatre.

Wearing a pair of tartan trousers, trademark Doc Martens in red, a white shirt, grey cardigan and burgundy scarf, Sheehan posed for photographs with an admiring attendance of female followers -- many of whom had queued for several hours outside the theatre.

Despite the throng, Sheehan was relaxed after a restful family Christmas.

While he caused quite a stir when out shopping in Dunnes Stores in Portlaoise with his mum Maria on Christmas Eve, he spent Christmas Day in Dublin, as the Sheehans joined forces with his brother's South African girlfriend's family.

It will be back to his London base for his 25th birthday on January 7, which he expects to be a quiet one.

Then it will be off to the south of Scotland to film David Blair's film The Messenger.

After finishing Love/Hate, he worked on a BBC sitcom Me And Mrs Jones, before moving to a film set in upstate New York with the working title of Begin The Beguine with Rory Culkin, and then on to Toronto for eleven weeks, where he starred in vampire movie The Mortal Instruments -- City Of Bones.