By Alys Davies | wonderlandmagazine.com
BAFTA-nominated Robert Sheehan takes a break from Shakespearean frills and velvety pants to share with Wonderland all about his new film The Messenger.
We all fell for Robert Sheehan and his Irish charm when he graced our screens as Nathan Young in Misfits – he’s had a busy few years since and the rising actor continues to make an impression with his latest role in The Messenger. The film is directed by David Blair (Best Laid Plans) and sees Sheehan playing protagonist Jack, alongside Joely Richardson, Lily Cole, Jack Fox, David O’Hara and Tamzin Merchant. His character is reluctantly tormented by the dead and has been in and out of psychiatric units all of his life – he is considered an outsider by others and branded delusional. The Messenger follows him on a haunting journey of coming to terms with his turbulent past and playing the intermediary between the dead and their beloved.
Below Sheehan talks with us about working with ‘Darth Blaider’, starring in a Shakespearean epic and very exciting upcoming projects involving Dustin Lance Black and our covergirl Hailee Steinfeld. Also, if like us you want to see him in action you can catch him at the Rose Theatre Kingston in The War of the Roses until October 31.
So I watched The Messenger this morning…
This morning? You might be the first person ever to watch it in the morning!
I know it made me think a lot for the morning.
It was like a strong cup of coffee was it?
Yeah exactly! What attracted you to this film?
Well I guess the same as what you’ve concluded there to some extent, I found it a quite thought-provoking script. I found that Jack the character was written very cleverly – it’s interesting actually because the writer Andrew Kirk – I eventually got around to asking where the idea came from and he said his mother, or possibly his partner’s mother, I can’t remember, had dementia and she started talking to relatives that had passed away as though they were in the room. Everybody was completely mystified at first but it happened consistently and weirdly enough out of that somewhat tragic setting this idea sprang forth about a young man who this is happening to. I just loved that, the fact that this idea sprang from so deep a root you know what I mean?
I think that definitely comes across that it came from somewhere like that. He’s a really complex character…
It’s funny isn’t it when you’re in a strange state of mind and you’re being challenged by adversity or tragedy or somethings going on in your life you can sort of go for a walk and all of a sudden become the most creative you can be… it’s an odd characteristic of us humans. Cyborgs. So that was interesting and yeah you’re right that kind of sang off the page and Jack was a very very strong character.
Metrodome have announced November 2 for the BluRay/DVD release of The Messenger (currently in UK Cinemas) and you can now Pre-Order your own copy via Amazon! (only DVD at the moment).
You can also find the film available on the following UK services;
Sky Store – Virgin – Amazon Instant Video – Blinkbox – Google Play – iTunes – Sony Network – Wuaki – Xbox
Five brand new clips have released from Robert’s next fantastic film; The Messenger! In cinema’s today! Courtesy of Geeky Girls Love Sci Fi, Twitch Film, Bleeding Cool and NerdlyUK.
As well as a couple of good reviews have been coming through as well;
Film 3Sixty Magazine spoke to Rob about the unglamorous independent production and how he tackled a character who everyone but himself sees as insane.
By Edward Frost | film3sixtymagazine.com
Think of the name Robert Sheehan and perhaps what immediately springs to mind is the popular character he played in Channel 4 sci-fi comedy series Misfits (2009-2013) for two seasons. Sheehan was nominated for a BAFTA for his performance as Nathan Young, a raffish and charmingly funny Irishman who, after being struck with the power of immortality, spent the majority of his time cracking wise whilst figuring out the origins of his and his fellow community service workers’ newfound paranormal afflictions.
Though hailed as arguably the leading star of the show, Sheehan decided to step down from the role in 2011 at the height of its success, citing a desire to explore different roles, a variety of which came thick and fast and challenged audience’s perceptions of the effortlessly witty joker. His latest challenge comes in the form of supernatural drama The Messenger (2015), a gritty character study the likes of which audiences haven’t seen him star in before.
Sheehan plays Jack, a conflicted young man haunted both by damaging events in his childhood and, literally, by the recently deceased, with whom he has the abnormal gift of being able to communicate. Outwardly disturbed and treated as such by the authorities, his therapist (played by Joely Richardson) and concerned sister Emma (Lily Cole), Jack strives to maintain a normal life, however much he is dragged into the unfinished business of the dead.
A far bleaker alternative to M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense (1999), The Messenger offers Sheehan a meaty role to really get to grips with, as well as the opportunity to work with jobbing director David Blair once again, who he collaborated with on an episode BBC anthology drama Accused in 2010. Blair sent him Andrew Kirk’s script over two years ago, but – as is the case with small-scale independent British films – production took a while to kick into gear. “Initially we had to say goodbye to the project in 2013 just as we were meant to start shooting, which was a great shame, but eventually it managed to make its way back together, which both delighted and surprised us!” says Sheehan, realising that such a weighty character was knocking around his head for a good couple of years.
Despite the film finally gaining funding, it didn’t stop the production from hitting several setbacks, leading to a decidedly unglamorous period of shooting that the starry cast, Sheehan admits, had to brave the harsh conditions of, and Blair had to go out of his way to guide his crew through. “There was a certain level of chaos on [The Messenger] due to there being a lot of location work and a frankly below-par production team, so David had to be a creative and safe pair of hands, and shoulder everything himself in order to keep everything moving along,” says Sheehan, who found his director to be just the right mixture of charming and cantankerous. “It was a very singular vision made with not even a fraction of the resources [David] was promised or was meant to be delivered, but he was fantastic throughout.”
Unlike Nathan, whose relationship with the looming spectre of death was played largely for laughs, the character of Jack proved to be a much more solemn undertaking and allowed Sheehan to continue his interest in central characters who are themselves outsiders, which is something he identifies with and is continuously attracted to. “What’s interesting about playing someone who has all the quirks, eccentricities and strangeness of an outsider or peripheral character is that you get so much more to explore,” he says. “It’s a really strongly written part, and it was somewhat fun to try and map out the arc of someone who starts as a young, sarcastic alcoholic and begins to have a mental breakdown. That journey was interesting, and saw David and I having endless debates about how one would communicate with the dead while maintaining a sense of normalcy.”
Although he dabbled with research into personality disorders and, more specifically, acute schizophrenia – the diseases the doctor’s in the film believe Jack to have, Sheehan found that focusing not so much on the madness but the sanity of the character to be far more beneficial, as the film is told from his affected but not diagnostically ill viewpoint. Jack is genuinely experiencing these things as a reality, which lead the actor to consider how to exactly convey a simultaneous sense of craziness and rationality, something his director was more than willing to help flesh out.
As mentioned, the character of Jack is the latest in a steady stream of distinctive role choices for Sheehan post-Misfits, which has lead him to broaden his horizons and take on a more international range. From adventure fantasy The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013) to WWII drama Anita B. (2014) and US drama The Road Within (2014) – which saw him playing someone with Tourette’s Syndrome, the actor continues his bid to be as diverse and unpredictable as possible, however cautious he is of the perils of being too selective. “If you’re constantly looking for something that you feel isn’t derivative of your previous work then it can make the process a little harder, but I’ve been very lucky in the sense that I’ve always got a chance to play very different characters, and will continue to do that as much as possible.”
It seems that Sheehan’s ability to eradicate ego from the equation – and adopt Nicolas Cage, an old cast-mate’s, advice that the only power an actor has over a film is to accept the director’s vision wholeheartedly – is continuing to pay artistic dividends, and allowing him to branch off into other areas of the industry. After conquering television and film, Sheehan is now treading the boards of Kingston’s Rose Theatre in Trevor Dunn’s revival of John Barton and Peter Hall’s landmark Shakespearean trilogy, ‘The Wars of the Roses’, a production he finds is much pacier and more focused than other Shakespeare plays.
This, as well as Dustin Lance Black’s adaptation of Jennifer E. Smith’s novel ‘The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight’, a “sobering examination of love and attachment told at a time when lot of films sell a kind of sensational and outlandish love to young people that doesn’t really exist,” ensures that Sheehan is well on his way to gaining the universal recognition he rightly deserves, however much he continues to be fascinated by misfits.