Fresh from his triumphant return to the Gaiety Theatre in Breaking Dad, Rory Nolan took some time out to chat about his career, the future of Irish theatre and his favorite curse word.
I had the immense pleasure to share the stage with you only once! Was Dramsoc where you were bitten by the acting bug or had you experience in youth theatre before college?
I think I always had the bug, to a certain degree. But Dramsoc was a huge experience, and an important one, looking back. I wasn’t involved in youth theatre before college so I suppose I realise how much of a springboard into the profession Dramsoc was. Here was a place you could act, direct, design on any play you want. You covered every discipline and the society was run as a pro theatre company in many ways. I think I did about 25 plays in three years there. That experience and education is, and has been, invaluable. And of course I had a brilliant time.
Was there a moment, or a particular part, where you came to the conclusion that you wanted to act professionally?
It had always been at the back of my mind. So pinpointing it is hard to do. There’s a vocational aspect to acting, and in many ways the profession picks you. I think it was gradual, certainly in college and after doing so many plays I realised that this was for me, and that ironically, pretending to be someone else gave me a greater sense of self or place in the world or something. It just felt like that’s what I should be doing.
Since graduating from the Gaiety School of Acting in 2003, you’ve worked consistently with Ireland’s best theatre companies – Rough Magic, Second Age, Corcadorca, Corn Exchange and Druid to name but a few –do you have aspirations to tread the boards in the West End or Broadway?
If it comes into my circle, absolutely. But its not something I’ll actively pursue. I’m so thankful to be busy at the moment and to have the opportunity to get the head down into the work. If NY or London call, I’ll definitely answer.
With cuts to arts funding in particular impacting theatre and film making, are you worried for the future of young theatre companies and actors?
Artists have to respond to and adjust to their surroundings, and I think by their very nature artists and theatre makers and film-makers etc are survivors. But its disheartening to know of all the wonderful artists out there who cant bring their work to an audience because they can’t afford it. The future needs its artists, the arts are central to a nations purpose and are a test of the quality of our civilization. And there are flowers growing in the concrete yard.
What was your happiest moment in acting?
Too many to name. The phone call telling me I’d got my first professional show was pretty great.
You have been playing the part of Ross O’Carroll Kelly now since 2007 in The Last Days of the Celtic Tiger, Between Foxrock and a Hard Place and now in Breaking Dad. What drew you to the part and did you ever have any concerns with becoming synonymous with this character?
The audition was the first thing that drew me to the part! Playing Ross has been a blast, and Paul Howard has been so generous with his creation, really collaborative and just inspiring with his comic genius. Its an amazing feeling to stand on stage and have a thousand people scream with laughter for two hours. I was never worried about any synonimity, he’s a great character to play and I’ve been blessed with the different parts I’ve been offered. But the shows have been so successful and such a delight to be part of, there worse things to be synonymous with!
You’ve played very diverse characters in your career so far but is there a part that you long to play?
Every part you take on comes with its own little challenges and its great fun picking through the character you play to work them out. I can honestly say I just enjoy the roles that come my way and fingers crossed they wont dry up. There are characters you identify with more than other others, and sometimes the ones that are more mysterious to you as an actor are the ones that are more fun. Every part is a gift, and I cant wait to play the next one, if that makes any sense.
I’m pretty addicted to watching Inside the Actor’s Studio so I’m going to finish this interview by asking you James Lipton’s 10 questions!
What is your favourite word?
Huncally Puncally (its a made up word by my first son when he was two, it means I have to bang my head off something when he says it, Cue convulsions of laughing at silly Daddy)
What is your least favourite word?
Literally. Because it used in the wrong way, literally all the time.
What turns you on?
Humour, talent, music.
What turns you off?
What sound do you love?
My seven month old son cooing and gurgling
What sound do you hate?
The sound of someone being struck. Curdles my blood.
What is your favourite curse word?
What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
Writer. Would attempt. Would most certainly fail.
What profession would you not like to do?
Anything in finance. Not for me. No good with money and don’t understand the way it works!
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
Come on in!