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You’ve done a lot of plays with Conor McPherson in the last few years – what’s the appeal?
‘This is my fourth time working with Conor, and also Jim Norton’s in the cast – I’ve worked with him eight times and I don’t know what that means, maybe he’s trying to get us back to get something right. But when you receive a script from Conor it’s a joy to read, the vernacular and the humour – then suddenly it’s not what is seems to be.’
You mean that sense of almost magical realism to his writing?
‘It’s the possibilities of something beyond, something that lifts you out to the possibility of something greater than what we believe is the whole of the present.’
Erm... Okay. In a more literal sense, what is ‘The Night Alive’ about?
‘It’s really about working-class people in Dublin trying to get through their lives – two guys who are just trying to eke out a living by taking things from dumps and selling them on somewhere. They’re not bottom-feeders, but they’ve lived their lives on the edge and have not given in to despair completely.’
What are your memories of the last time you performed at the Donmar, in Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Assassins’ back in 1992?
‘Ah yes – my one and only musical. I didn’t have to sing – it was great! Although I do remember there was some dancing.’
In ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ you were playing opposite Scarlett Johansson – how was that?
‘It was a great thing. The people who just came to see Scarlett, well they had to suffer two-and-three-quarter hours of Tennessee Williams! But I hope we got things cooking for them.’
You had a big part in season three of ‘Game of Thrones’ – does it feel like every British or Irish actor is in that show?
‘Yeah – it used to be Harry Potter; now that’s gone it’s “Game of Thrones”. Michael McElhatton, who is in “The Night Alive” as well, he was in “Game of Thrones” but we never met. I went for a coffee with him yesterday and there was an old man there in his work clothes, and he’s like [broad Dublin accent] “Ah, dere you are, the ‘Game of T’rones’ boys!” I don’t really know much about the world of the show, but it’s fantastically well done and it’s superb writing.’