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Published by Harmonia Norah, 2017-08-16 07:29:52

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Portrait photography: Hazel Coonagh

Interviewing Aidan Gillen is nothing like that, and not just

because we’re drinking coffee in the window of a deserted Spar

on Baggot Street on a Saturday morning. “Maybe we should

have met in Centra…” he jokes, “Down by the kitchen towels in this white stuff on the floor. I think it’s been given the certificate
Centra in Tullamore.” that it’s not going to kill you. I’m quite fascinated with it, you
can really turn things into a winter wonderland with that stuff.”
In interviews, he’s usually pegged as shy, private, there’s his
long pauses (I found them kind of wonderful, unsure of what He’s certainly aware of the intensive fan obsession.
was coming next). I’m not sure any of those things are relevant “There’s been pictures up of people sitting in make-up chairs,
or if he even is shy or intensely private. But after an hour I’m not a photograph of the book I have in my hand that I was reading,
sure of anything about Aidan, not really. I can say for certain he a close-up of it. People seem fascinated with such minutiae.”

is interesting. If I were to make a guess any further, I’d say he’s It’s almost become a hobby to wildly speculate about
intelligent, well read, a true lover of everything acting what’s coming next. Aidan pauses to think about this.
encompasses and a bit of fun. But most of all I get the impression
“That could make people really bored of it… it could go

yesterday and I was thinking, ‘Wow I haven’t really ever




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me from now on? Is he fabricating something about fabricating,

just for fun? It’s brilliant.

So, I guess take this whole piece with a pinch of salt, honestly,

I might be lying about everything that happened.

I ask him about a few facts, he was born in Drumcondra (true),

he went to the Dublin Youth Theatre (true), he moved to London

at 17 (“actually 18”).

“All that stuff, Drumcondra and the Dublin Youth Theatre,

that’s all stuff that’s been gone over and over. I think I do the

same interview over and over again. Does everyone do that?”

I say I’m not sure. What do I really want to know from him?

I guess it’s what drives him, why does he act, what does he get

from it.

“What makes me want to work as an actor…? It doesn’t get

boring and I also don’t think that I’m a master of my craft or

anything like that. But I’d like to be. I’m not bullshitting, but I’m

still far from where I’d like to be or you know, I don’t think I’m

anywhere as near as good as the people I think are really good,

talked to that person much over seven years.’ They’re probably you know.”
wondering why is he starting now?” For the record his list is, “The same list I’ve always had, they’re

So far, it’s what you might expect us to be talking about. people I saw when I was quite young. It’s been said before but
Then our conversation wanders to the subject of psychics. Donal McCann, Tony Doyle, John Malkovich, Mark Rylance, Sean
Penn and there are others. But there were certain people along
“I’ve gone to a few fortune-tellers and psychics in my time… the way that I really clocked and said, not that I wanted to be them,
I did it [tarot] recently. I did it last year. I’ve done it twice, and but they made me interested in acting and want to do it.”
not that I thought it was going to be, you know, it was going to
tell me anything that was going to happen or that it was going Will he ever feel like he’s made it to that level, human nature
to tell me anything about myself. I didn’t believe it was going to suggests otherwise.
do anything other than it was an experience I wanted to have
sitting in this, behind this velvet curtain with some strange dude “I don’t know. But look, it’s an interesting thing to do, it’s
who thinks I believe what he’s telling me is all true.” exciting, it’s strange. It’s a strange job. You’re in these different,
everything is so different. And just you’re nearly always with a
Were they any good? group of new people, oftentimes you might know 50 per cent of
“They were both way off the mark. They go for the obvious them. Just entering a new circle all the time, doing something that
things: ‘You’ve just ended a relationship, you’ve just started a maybe hasn’t been done before as in a new script or a new…”
relationship, you’re expecting a child, you’ve lost your job, you’ve He tails off.
got a job…’ But I did like it, you know. I think there’s, as an actor
or if you’re a writer or whatever, you can if you’re one of those And then we’re off onto something else, talking about a
things, it’s just nice to kind of experience that kind of stuff. recent performance of The Dead that he did in London and Dublin
Particularly if you’re an actor, you want to see what’s going on – “it was pretty exciting and kind of nerve wracking because I
behind those velvet curtains in George’s Street Arcade. Next hadn’t been on stage, although I didn’t think of it too much, only
thing it’s you, you’re what’s going on.” after. I hadn’t been on stage for seven years. And that is something
And then he says: “Anyway I don’t want to overplay that I used to do all the time. It’s quite easy to find your... it felt
card… The last interview I did with Irish Tatler Man I ended up natural straight away.
kind of fabricating a little story about Chat Roulette and horses’
heads. And that was pure, pure imagination.” “I do want to do that again, maybe this year, maybe next
Was the tarot story real? year. But even just by the end of that second week in Dublin it
“No, that’s really true. I had looked at Chat Roulette to see was streets ahead of where it was even at the start of that week
what was going on but I didn’t wear a horse’s head.” And that’s in Dublin.”
when he tells me about rolling out the “small bomb” to confuse
journalists. And this is yet another side. Aidan is fond of mixing in smaller
Which leaves me a in a bit of quandary, can I trust what he’s budget projects in with the big budget stuff, it’s not the norm
telling me? What’s in this interview that will become a lie in the with bigger stars like him I say, he disagrees.
future? Has he been messing with me, will he just mess with
“I don’t know, I think people try to… I don’t know, I haven’t
ever sat down and really thought about it. But I mean I have
consciously, I suppose, always, tried to mix it up. And not…
you know if it was 20 years ago and someone offered me a lead
role in some tiny, indie film I would be like, ‘This is the best

thing that’s ever happened to me’. And I’d do it and I’d jump to

do it. I still feel the same, I don’t feel I shouldn’t feel that way

about it just because I’ve done other things or because maybe


it’s part of the gig nowadays, ‘cos everyone is photographing

all their friends anyway, it’s not just somebody that they might

recognise off the TV or someone they recognise off the radio.

It’s fine, it’s part of the gig. It’s not a big deal. It’s easier to be

I can get something that pays more money. I do take care that nice than not be nice. I just behave as a person, a normal person
I have enough that I can choose the right things so I can make in a somewhat unusual situation. It’s unusual in that it’s not the
it work so I can pay the bills. And all the rest of it and look after same for everybody. But you know. It’s totally, logically, part of
whoever needs to be looked after. Outside of that… Looking my… Pictures for Facebook pages. I don’t know.”
for a good role.”
You get the impression this could be tiresome.
In that vein he tells me he just finished filming a music video “It just seems like normal life to me. I don’t know what to
with Mick Flannery down in Cork. say about it. Not everyone loves these things either, it’s not all
people coming up to tell you how great you are.”
“I’m driving around Cork… It wasn’t a real car, so you caught Apparently some people love telling him otherwise.
me out there. It was a real car in the back of a barn outside of “And I’m fine with that. Particularly on social media, it’s full
Killarney somewhere with a projection. When you’ve got a of people telling people that they’re shit,” but he’s not on social
projection going you can go down one way streets. Mick Flannery media, “No I’m not, occasionally if I’m feeling masochistic. It
is someone I met when I was working in Other Voices in Kerry can be quite nasty. It’s useful for some things but I wouldn’t go
and [I] like him a lot. We bumped into each other every now there if I didn’t have to.”
and again and we emailed each other and [he] said ‘Would you And then it’s back to the classic interview format, what’s he
like to be in my music video?’ I think this is a great idea, I don’t up to for the rest of the year, apart from Game of Thrones?
think, ‘Where does this fit into my career?’” “I’ve been working on this Guy Richie film for a while, this
King Arthur film which is due out the start of next year, I think.
On Other Voices he says it was an equally organic process, I’m going down to shoot the final instalment of the Maze Runner
“I met some brilliant people and saw some incredible movies which we had started earlier this year in Vancouver but
performances in a tiny space. But that was totally, again I was one of the actors got seriously injured on set. But he’s back and
stopped on the street and, ‘Would you do this next week?’ and ready to go again. That’s happening in the New Year as well,
I said yes.” off to South Africa. There’s all that stuff going on. Maybe do The
Dead somewhere just after New Year and who knows what
Why does he do these smaller projects, like the one with else…”
Mick, for fun or for craic… ? There’s a smile, “And real life, the rest of all the other stuff,
the real stuff, the more important stuff. Lets not forget that.
“It’s not just craic, the song was good but I might be able to Friends and family and driving around the country and walking
do what he wanted or needed, or maybe not, it doesn’t always on the beach and going fishing… I like riding my bike up the
work. You don’t know how it’s going to… it’s a bit of a risk but mountain, or anywhere out of Dublin. On a good day up over
I like risk.” the Sally Gap.”
And that’s it, it’s over and kind of fitting that the last words
When I mentioned to friends that I was off to interview on my Dictaphone are him asking, “Any other things you want
Aidan a lot of them said that they’d spotted him about Dublin, to know?” ITM
at gigs, walking along, having a pint.

“There’s reasons for that and that’s because I’m back in
Dublin a lot and because I live in town and I have plenty of days
off and I like to walk around the city and do things and look at
what’s going on. I like the life of a city.”

After living in the country for a good few years, it seems

he’s enjoying being back in the middle of things.

“I’d lived out of Ireland for a long time and then lived in the

country for a bit which I loved and that really gave us a real bolt

of energy, you know, because I’d never really lived in the country

even though I do consider myself a… my mother’s from Sligo

and I’d always… I’ve got country blood and I feel at home in the

country. I used to go there quite a lot. I’ve always been quite at

home even though I was raised in the city and all the rest of it,

like loads of people in Dublin you’ve got roots outside of it. We

all love, everyone loves going to see their granny in the west

and all the rest of it, or in the north or the south or whatever.”

On the whole being recognised thing he jokes, “[I’m] out and

about and I’m just kind of hoping people are going to recognise

me and they’re going to ask can they take a picture…”

Getting stopped must be a regular occurrence for him,

there’s plenty of proof in the form of selfies galore on social

media. On an aside, on the way down Baggot Street he had

people literally turning to look at him on the street, he seemed


“People do stop you, that does happen. It happens a lot,

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