Garage Man November 19, 2007 Pat Shortt is one of Ireland Pat Shortt is one of Ireland’s most popular comedians. He’s one of the bubbliest personalities on television and as a comedian is always in high demand. So it comes as a surprise to see him star in the new Irish movie ‘Garage’, this film from the creators of 2004’s ‘Adam & Paul’ is a startling, hypnotic look at rural life in Ireland that will shock you from start to finish. An actor, comedian and writer, Pat first came to attention as one of D’Unbelievables alongside Jon Kenny. Together they performed their unique brand of comedy in theatres all over the world. They produced four critically acclaimed and sell-out shows as well as writing and producing chart-topping videos. Pat then became established as a solo star with massive sell-out shows touring the country. His comedy series, ‘Killinaskully’, has been the most popular television programme each year in Ireland for the past three years. He was last seen on cinema screens starring in the hugely popular comedy ‘Man About Dog’ but his new role is worlds apart. Pat plays Josie a harmless misfit in ‘Garage’. Josie has spent all his adult life as the caretaker of a crumbling petrol station on the outskirts of a small town in the mid-west of Ireland. He is limited, lonely, yet relentlessly optimistic and, in his own peculiar way, happy. But then over the course of a summer, Josie’s world shifts, as one thoughtless moment changes his life forever. Q: After the huge success of ‘Man About Dog’, you received lots of offers to make other movies… what was it that made you pick ‘Garage’ over the other offers? A: There were various reasons, I do a lot of live work and a lot of films come to me at a late stage when I’m already committed to theatre work. Plus a lot of them were similar type roles to what I’d already done in ‘Man About Dog’. I’m fortunate enough that I’m able to do various different things, like ‘Killinaskully’, live shows and I have my own production company in Limerick, so I don’t have to rush into taking anything on from an economic point of view. I can pick and choose a bit. ‘Man About Dog’ was very enjoyable, I loved it and I’m very proud of it but then people put you into that pigeonhole of being a comic actor and you get typecast. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t waiting for this role to come along because I’m never perceived for this type of role but when it did come along it was so different to anything I’d done before that I just got really excited about. Q: How were you first approached for this project and what were your initial thoughts? A: Lenny told me that I was the one person they had in mind to do it from when they started working on the script. I was very keen on it from the first day he explained it to me. There was always a big question at the start about putting me in such a straight role and showing me in a light that wouldn’t be very flattering at times. They wondered how it was going to effect my audience and the other work I do but that wouldn’t be like me at all, I was very interested in it. It’s the type of part that any actor would give their right arm for, they’d kill for it because it allows you to really perform as an artist. So I said ‘yes’ and after that the script took another few months to finalise. Lenny came down to my studio in Limerick just before shooting to work out the character with me, we set up a camera and worked on improv all day. I have to say it was the hardest days work I’ve ever done in my life. I was struggling and really trying to get a grip on the character, it was something I was creating and I’m so used to playing larger than life characters for comedy. Q: You play a very complex character in ‘Garage’, he spends several scenes in complete silence, how difficult was it to prepare a character like this? A: As an actor he was very difficult because of the lack of emotion and expression. For anyone of us to have something bad happen you feel the emotion, you physically dramatise the emotion but Josie didn’t do many of those things. There was only one moment in the movie where something hit him, when he was eating in the garage and he stopped to put his hand over his mouth and think ‘Oh my God’ but no sooner had he done it he resorted back to himself again. Trying to do that consistently throughout the movie and keep that blankness there goes against the grain of what we all do naturally. Q: A lot of your dialogue consists of just one word or a ‘tsk’. How were these mannerisms scripted or were they left to your interpretation? A: It was all scripted which made it more difficult. The script gave very little direction of how he should react, that was up to me. What was in the script was just one word ‘now’ or ‘true’ and that would be it. *laughs* The first day Lenny and Mark came down to my house for a bite to eat and an informal reading. We kept it as simple as that, we didn’t go into any acting or work on any accents. So all I was reading was ‘Now’ and ‘True’ and ‘Now’ over and over. Its very hard for an actor as there is no backup to the line, in another way allows you to work your performance alongside the director, that was the exciting part of reading the script and equally the terrifying part. Once the character fell into place all those beats and words fell into place with him, it was trying to find the character to get there. The rehearsal was the big killer, I remember after the first day or two and thinking ‘oh f**k’, I was repeating ‘Now, now, now, now’, one word, over and over and I started to doubt myself but once we got a lock on it we knew, and all the dialogue came flowing out of the character. Q: What do you think Pat Shortt fans will make of your new serious side? This movie is not too far removed from what I do, It’s a straighter role but it’s about a rural character which they’ll identify hugely with. There’s a lot of comedy in the start of it but it is a more serious role, I think they will relate to it from the story point of view, it’s a really good story. Q: Is comedy your natural home or do you prefer more ‘serious’ acting roles? A: I love doing the live shows and to be honest being on a live stage in front of people is what I really enjoy doing and I really like doing my own material. For example I love doing ‘Killinaskully’, doing a straight role in a movie is great, but I don’t get to blow people up *laughs* and I don’t get to drive trucks through walls and all this mad sh*t I get to do in other projects. Every project is different, so I like to do various different types of work, but they’re all acting at the end of the day.