by Oisin Vince Coulter and Sorcha Gannon | tn2magazine.ie
TN2: How do you like London?
ROB: I love London. I’ve lived there for the best part of five years. Well, I mean before I started the Shakespeare thing I was in Los Angeles for a year, standing around, doing a little bit of work. I did a couple of films out there, but then came back to do this Shakespeare thing and in all truth, kinda came back and just sort of breathed, sort of exhaled: ‘I feel closer to home again’.
In all seriousness, it’s funny; LA can seem so utterly foreign, you know. I’ve been out there and back so many times and then went and actually lived there but it seems more foreign now than it does when I first went there. I suppose it’s just lost a bit of its pizazz, but London just continues to gain pizazz – and, to do Shakespeare in London is incredibly meaningful, under the lovely Trevor Nunn.
Is this your first Shakespeare performance? And you’re the villain?
It is, and I am the villain. We’re sort of thrown in at the deep end in many ways, because we had nine weeks to rehearse all three plays, a Shakespeare adaptation of Henry VI parts one, two and three, and Richard III, all of which are mammoth plays in themselves.
So Peter Hall and John Barton back in the 60s took it upon themselves to adapt those four plays into this daylong trilogy that you could start at 11AM and power through right to 11 o’clock at night.
How did you maintain your stamina for that? …a lot of caffeine?
You know what, during rehearsals I didn’t have any caffeine, because when you’re relying on something like that – false energy – can let you down at the best of times, or sort of bring you on this roller coaster of energy which isn’t good either. I try and eat as much as I possibly can, and that requires getting home wrecked after a day and making a packed lunch, and making a sort of a supper, and food for the next day.
Especially on trilogy days – which happened on a Thursday and a Saturday – we’d all come in with big boxes of pasta. I’m a skinny guy anyway, but I’ve lost weight doing this thing because the Richard in our sort-of-adaptation is incredibly agile. There’s loads and loads of sword fights, snarling and biting and crying and sweating, and by the end of it I’m just a shadow of my former self.
You’ve been called a sex symbol. What was it like playing a physically impaired person?
Trevor – Sir Trev – very much wanted to encourage and accentuate the kind of youthful sort of exuberant Richard. Very much charismatic, very much a child when you first meet him in the second play of Henry IV and then you watch him experience the death of his father and go through all these really harrowing things. You know, at the beginning of Richard III he’s sort of going “What the fuck am I going to do now?” So he decides to just kind of turn everything upside down again.
So there was this sort of cheeky, young, brash thing that Trevor was constantly bringing out. So as an example, there was points when even when I’ve won my first sword fight I kind of do this great big like jump in the air, like a kid. It’s just really un-Shakespearean, un-Richard-like and really irreverent, that was very accentuated. As far as the deformity, I’m sort of hunched, my bodies kind of twisted into this chaotic thing, my arm is withered across my body. I’ve got a built up shoe on one leg for a limp, and a brace all up this leg. It’s very tough on the lower back.
You really became a big name as a result of your TV work: Misfits in the UK, Love/Hate in Ireland. Would you consider going back to TV?
I have no qualms! There’s no exclusivity when it comes to platform, if there’s a good televisual project or a film project, you just sort of have to take it as it comes and usually the stuff that is worth being in requires a lot of fighting for, and the stuff that kinda comes your way is usually the stuff that could be seen as unambitious. It’s only once in a blue moon that the stuff that’s really great is also the stuff they really want you for; it’s so very rare.
You kinda have to keep singing for your supper. And that can come in all forms! The next few things: I’m doing this movie that I’ve talked about a few times, called the Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, which is kinda an exploration of the science of love and attachment, basically. It’s about this young girl, she’s like 19, and she’s flying back to London to her dad’s second wedding, and her family was torn apart by the fact that her dad left her mum, and she has a lot of resentment.
And then she meets this young man in the airport who is a psych-major at Yale, this English guy, who very much believes the same thing and they sort of talk about how love is insanity, and the wreckage it leaves in it’s wake. But also while they are talking about this they’re starting to feel attachment throughout the whole thing. So it’s a very science-proofed love story. That was directed by a guy called Dustin Lance Black who directed a few films but he’s more known for writing – he wrote Milk, J Edgar – he’s quite politicised – so this is something completely unpolitical for him as well.
What Irish actors and directors are you interested or inspired by at the moment?
At the moment, Irish actors, Michael Fassbender, Cillian Murphy are definitely my two guys at the moment. Although, you know, I saw Colin Farrell in the Lobster last night and he was fantastic and he’s so very un-Colin Farrell, he was great in that, definitely.
“I‘ve been quite monastic. Eat, sleep, rehearse,” Robert Sheehan explains, referring to his preparation for The Wars of the Roses, an epic distillation of four of Shakespeare’s history plays, directed by Sir Trevor Nunn, which he is now starring in alongside Joely Richardson and Rufus Hound at the Rose Theatre, Kingston.
Originally adapted in 1963, this is the second ever staging of the mammoth project. “It’s been an exhilarating, terrifying process,” Sheehan continues, on a rare break from the show. “It’s terrifying thinking ‘Are we ever going to get there?’ and pull off three plays but it’s been just an extraordinarily fulfilling thing. When we did our first trilogy and had press in and friends and family, we ended the three plays with the most amazing rapturous standing ovation I have ever witnessed in a theatre… Reviews are out, I’ve read one or two but apparently they’re good, 4 and 5 stars.”
Making his big break on British science fiction comedy-drama Misfits back in 2009, Rob Sheehan is a young talent Hunger has championed since the start of his career, appearing on the cover of Issue 2. The effervescent Irish actor starred alongside Zoe Kravitz and Dev Patel in The Road Within earlier this year, as well as taking the lead opposite Joely Richardson and Lily Cole in The Messenger, playing Jack a troubled soul, at odds with the world, unable to conform.
On a day off from his captivating stage performance, Robert popped into Hunger HQ to discuss the play, his upcoming film Jet Trash which he also executively produced and avoiding the celebrity circus.
Having done TV and film, is theatre the most rewarding and exhilarating?
I suppose it depends when you ask me. Theatre is much more of an immediate gratification. Especially because I’m playing Richard III and a lot of what he does is speaking to the audience. The adrenalin rush and what you get back is glorious. You don’t get that same feeling with film because it’s a fractured process but at the same time there is a great reward… For example with Jet Trash because I was producer as well as actor I was there from the ground up, from raising the money and casting to location scouting so that seems to be where the true reward and gratification comes from, seeing something go from the page to actually taking shape. There’s much more of a multi-faceted, long-term reward there. I’ve yet to see the finished, polished product so I can’t wait.
How was it both acting in and producing Jet Trash? Can you tell us a bit more about the film?
It’s about two guys in the paradise of India who are running from something. They’re hiding and they’re trying to drink and drug their minds so they don’t have to think about the situation. Then the story jumps back to London where the two boys get themselves into the trouble that they’re running from. As producer it was one of the most challenging parts of anything I’ve done because it required constant script development, constant sitting in a room and trying to agree with the powers that be on the film, which isn’t always easy. At times it felt, both in the script developmental stage and the editing stage that we would take one step forward and two steps back. The progress was slow but maybe that’s because I’m a perfectionist and if something doesn’t feel right, then try and make it better rather than skating over it and trying to honour a deadline.
Myself and the director Charlie Belleville worked on the script together and we brought in various other people but it was us that brought the script to where it is. The casting experience was incredibly rewarding and difficult at the same time because if you’re on one side of the table and you have eight actresses come in to read for the role of your best friend and five of them are brilliant, it’s an embarrassment of riches and it’s actually tragic to make a decision. That element was brand new for me. India was sublime. We lived very much on the hoof and managed to cover quite a number of locations even though we had a modest budget of less than £400,000.
With that role, your parts in The Road Within and The Messenger it seems you gravitate towards the more challenging, gritty characters rather than the more obvious teen heartthrob roles that your peers might pick. Is that a considered decision?
I think finding characters who are flawed and who are messes are the most fun to play. I mean the character in Jet Trash is very much a completely self-centred, somewhat magnetic character who at first you want to be his mate but you see the consequences of his actions and eventually he realises that. The ones that are flawed… not that heartthrob characters can’t be flawed, but they are an archetype of something that we’ve seen before and always derivative, it’s harder in a way to make that leading man original.
After your experience producing is that definitely something you’d delve into again?
Absolutely. Writing is really fun too. I wrote a couple of things recently and sent them to friends of mine who are scriptwriters and they were like “It’s good man” which is great! Once you’ve made something it’s impossible to have any sort of objectivity. I’ll definitely continue to make stuff from the ground up, to be ‘auteur’ as well as actor.
We don’t really see you stumbling out of clubs in the press or actively working the party circuit. Is the celebrity circus something you avoid?
To be honest, the celebrity circuit tends to be parties with an agenda “Come to this party, it’s for a brand of headphones!”. That’s not a party. Personally I don’t really see the value in that. I understand the value of promotion but I find it a little bit tiresome. What I understand about myself at this point in my life is that work is a huge part of my happiness. If I don’t have something to really, really engage with or if I’m idle for any period of time, I’m far less happy as a person.
Who have been the biggest influences on your work and creativity?
A lot of directors who I’ve worked with, watching them sculpt you as an actor and everything else in a show is incredibly inspiring. That and getting advice from people like Sir Trevor Nunn who I’m working with at the moment who is truly one of the most enriched human beings on the planet. He has an encyclopaedic mind for Shakespeare and literature. It’s an intellect that you just so easily hand yourself over to. What he’s pulled off with the War of the Roses trilogy is just extraordinary. 75 scenes, over 9 weeks of rehearsal, with 25 actors. He is an incredible source of inspiration and also someone who continually pushed me to invent, invent, invent for Richard III and be as brave and provocative as possible with the part.
David Blair another director who I worked with on The Messenger and The Accused is again one of these really impressive intellects and a purist drama maker. Actor wise, the list is endless but talking about Irish actors, Michael Fassbender and Cillian Murphy are both just absolutely top of their game. Actors who chose projects that are challenging first and foremost. I cannot wait to see Macbeth!
You were recently cast opposite Hailee Steinfeld in The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. When do you start filming?
That will be next year but Dustin Lance Black who wrote that script and is going to direct it was one of the guys I badgered by sending stuff saying ‘What do you think of this?’ It’s a fantastic script. It’s essentially driven by one conversation for the first two thirds by these people who kind of dissect the nature of love and attachment. They both come from broken families and half the story takes place as these two people fly from New York to London.
Next year is a busy year for you then with Geostorm‘s release as well…
Yep, that’s coming out! There’s a project that the director of Geostorm, Dean Devlin wants me to do. Hopefully going to shoot that in the first quarter of next year and it’s a thriller set in a neighbourhood in Portland. Hopefully that will happen but it’s based on schedules. That’s the thing about being an actor, you’re constantly floating around in a chaos soup waiting for other people’s schedules to align with your own. That’s my foggy future for the time being!
Robert Sheehan recently spoke to Irish Sun about his upcoming blockbuster Geostorm and how he’d love to be on the same scale as Colin Farrell or Micheal Fassbender. We absolutely think he will, of course! Have a read of the interview below:
FORMER Love/Hate star Robert Sheehan is hoping his new role as an astronaut in a €100million Hollywood blockbuster will put him in the same league as Colin Farrell and Michael Fassbender.
The Portlaoise native, 27, stars alongside Gerard Butler as a budding spaceman battling to save the planet from apocalyptic weather in Geostorm.
Produced by the makers of Independence Day, the natural disaster epic is set to push the young actor onto Tinseltown’s A-list when it hits big screens next year.And after appearing in a string of low budget independent films since quitting the RTE crime saga two years ago, it’s the big break Sheehan’s been waiting for.
He said: “Geostorm is sort of a near future type sci-fi movie where global warming has essentially exacerbated the weather on Earth which has become humanity’s greatest threat. There’s floods happening and droughts and that sort of s***.
“And we spent six months down in Louisiana, shooting the whole thing at an ex-NASA facility outside New Orleans where they used to build shuttles in the ’70s and ’80s. You think, ‘this is unbelievable’.
“And while getting the big blockbuster was not intentional — because I’ve never measured success on that scale — sometimes actors need the film to reach enough people for it to feel relevant.
“So I’m certainly not complaining if it does well. Ultimately, I’d love to have the choice of guys like Michael Fassbender and Colin Farrell.”
Quickly making his mark on the industry since moving to LA last year to live with girlfriend, Kingsman star Sofia Boutella, Robert has also landed the lead in forthcoming romance, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, opposite Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld.
But the actor claims the film is nothing like the typical Hollywood love story.
He explained: “Hailee and I play two people who are wary of love.
“And then they share this long conversation on a flight from New York back to London, and as they’re agreeing about how unlikely it is for real love to prevail in any two people, they start to feel what could be love.
“But it’s going to be like an antidote to these giant, sensational romantic films that have come out in the past five years, like Twilight with lots of beautiful men walking around with no shirts on. Nothing like that.”
Starting young in the industry, the garda’s son was just 15 when he won a small role opposite Aidan Quinn in Song for a Raggy Boy.
He followed that up with bit parts in The Tudors and The Clinic before scooping the lead as a male prostitute in Channel 4’s Red Riding and moving on to supernatural teen drama, Misfits.
Finding fame as trigger-happy Darren Treacy in Love/Hate, Sheehan became an instant household name on these shores.
But the actor bowed out with a bullet to the brain at the end of season three as the ensuing fame from the series was starting to prove a headache.
He said: “I loved that show so much, worked with great people, great crew.
“But I got restless and fame is a toxic side-effect of being a good actor. So that’s been the struggle. These roles become so defining in your career, I wanted to see what else I could do, what else was out there.”
Previously dating Ripper Street actress Charlene McKenna, Robert moved to London and worked on low budget films including Italian World War II drama Anita B and Moonwalkers with Harry Potter actor Rupert Grint.
But the pull of LA’s sun and success proved impossible to resist, not to mention his love for Boutella, and he packed his bags.
He said: “I thought, ‘I could endure another cold winter in London, or box up the four, five boxes of s*** I own in Camden and go to LA and wake up every day with the sun blazing through my window’. Who doesn’t want that? Plus I could explore the work opportunities out there, and yeah, there was a little bit of love involved too.
“But don’t get me wrong, I love to come home. It’s so important to come back and see my family. Just right now, I couldn’t see myself living there.”
Thankfully, the star hasn’t completely turned his back on this side of the pond as fans can catch him next month in his latest big screen British release, The Messenger. Alongside Joely Richardson, Sheehan stars as a troubled soul, tormented by spirits of the dead who force him to contact loved ones, playing havoc with his sanity and state of mind.
And while stretching his acting capabilities, he admits to being a firm disbeliever when it comes to the supernatural.
He said: “Everybody has a friend who has a friend but you never meet the person who it actually happened to. I’m yet to be converted to a full ghost believer. And I didn’t consult with any mediums or supernaturalists because I think they’re all bulls*** artists. They make it up so I wouldn’t believe a word any of those people tell me.”
Even after pal Nicolas Cage — who worked with Robert on 2011 flop Season of the Witch — revealed his own ghostly experience on holiday in Ireland, he still remains a sceptic.
He said: “Nic told me he once did a tour of all the most haunted places in Ireland.
“And I said to him, ‘Did you see any ghosts,’ fully expecting him to say no, and he says, ‘I don’t want to get into it but I had some incredibly supernatural experiences. So scary in fact, I don’t want to go into detail.’ And his face was proper white.
“But I don’t know. Even from the man himself, I still don’t believe.”
Welcome back! We have officially moved (Luckily with not much down time!) Although it took 2 weeks, I can continue on with the revamp/updates process. I have gathered together 300+ HQ’s of missing events/photoshoots etc from the photo gallery that I will upload shortly. I will also be bringing you better screencaps from Robs most recent films in BluRay. Also, new themes that will be coming soon as well.
Update your bookmarks: robert-sheehan.com/robertsheen.org >> robert-sheehan.org
Article: ‘I got my next film role for being a talker, not a sex symbol’
Elaine McCahill | 19/08/2015
The Laois native is set to play the lead in new romantic drama The Statistical Probability of Love of at First Sight opposite Hailee Steinfeld.
It will be written and directed by Dustin Lance Black, whose credits include Milk and J Edgar.
“One of the reasons Dustin cast me was because I like to talk a lot,” he laughed.
“I don’t think the whole sex symbol bit was very high on the list of priorities but it’s funny that people think of me that way,” he told the Herald.
The film follows Hadley – played by Steinfeld – over 24 hours as she heads to her dad’s second wedding.
Things take a turn for the better when she meets a British guy, played by Sheehan, and sparks fly.
Sheehan says the film has a “far more sober approach” to love than other teenage movies.
“There are two people who are incredibly suspicious of the effects of love but find themselves hurtling towards it all the same,” he said.
“It’s a far more sober approach to love than some of the Young Adult stuff that’s come out over the last few years – a lot of it is very fantastical and sensational.
“Finding a project that doesn’t bore me to tears is hard and this is just fantastic,” he added.
The 27-year-old is currently in rehearsals for an exciting production inspired by Shakespeare’s plays.
The former Love/Hate star has been cast in The War of the Roses at the Rose Theatre, Kingston Upon Thames in London.
The production is a trilogy of plays adapted from Shakespeare’s quartet of history plays – Henry VI Parts I, II and III, and Richard III.
“It’s really exciting to back doing theatre, it’s been several years since I’ve been on stage,” he said.
“It’s a more pure, simplistic form of acting where the actor has more authority.
There’s a lot of fight choreography so we’ve been swishing swords about quite a bit which has been fun.
“It can be hard to remember the steps but it’s great once you’re confident and know you’re not going to chop someone’s finger off,” he said.