Interview Eileen Walsh

After its recent success at the Tribeca Film Festival, Irish film ‘Eden’ returns to Dublin’s Light House Cinema. We talk to award winning actress Eileen Walsh about the film.

Best remembered for her breakout performance in ‘The Magdalene Sisters’, Eileen Walsh returns in ‘Eden’, the screen adaptation of Eugene O’Brien’s critically acclaimed, award-winning play of the same name. Set in an Irish midlands town, ‘Eden’ is the story of Billy and Breda Farrell’s failing marriage on the eve of their 10th wedding anniversary. After showings at Dublin’s International Film Festival, on RTE television and a win at the Tribeca Film Festival, ‘Eden’ returns to the big screen in Dublin’s Light House cinema. We talk to the award winning actress about the film. 

Q: What made you try out for ‘Eden’?
A: For me, it was Eugene O’Brien’s writing that attracted me to the part. I’d done his TV series ‘Pure Mule’, so I knew very much that ‘Eden’ was something I wanted to be involved in

Q: Your sister Catherine originally played your character Breda in the play, how did she react to you taking over? Did she have any tips?

A: I think her tip may have been “damn you”. (Laughs) Actually, she was brilliant about it. Initially when I got the call, I turned it down because I felt this is Catherine’s part. She called me to let me know they weren’t casting her, they wanted to go younger.  She said “I hope you get called”. I explained they had been on and she immediately had me ringing back to try out.  

Q: The subject is relatively intense, how was it to shoot?

A: Well anytime you do a film it’s very intense, but especially when it’s a small cast. It was tough; I had my family with me and it was my first time doing something so full on -hours wise. It was tricky, but very enjoyable. I think for actors it’s about learning on each job; trying to become better and I think with ‘Eden’ I’ve tried something new.

Q: How has the reaction been from fans of the play?
A: Well, fans of the play are very loyal to it and they have approached with caution. Because of the way the play is structured with monologue, we had to adapt the work for cinema. Some people may have a different image in their heads of the characters, but I think overall the response has been very positive.

Q: The film opened at the Jameson film festival in Dublin and was shown on RTE. Now it’s returning to the big screen in Dublin’s Light House Cinema. How do you think it’ll fare?
A: I hope it goes well. Owen McPolin, the cinematographer for the film, is an artist. I think it looks well on TV, but much better on the big screen; the colours of the midlands and his artistic shots will come up so well on the big screen. 

Q: You won best actress at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival. The Jury said you won for your, “exquisite rendering of a lonely wife aching to be seen and heard.” Do such quotes and awards faze you?
A: Actually it’s interesting, I was talking to a friend recently and they were saying “what comes of this now?” and, to be honest, who knows. Who knows what comes of it. But actually, that quote alone is remarkable and nobody can ever take it away from you. So, if you ever have those quiet periods again or a bit of unemployment, they are lovely things to look back on.

Q: You work between cinema and theatre, do you have a preference?

A:I think any good actor strives for a balance. Both have their advantages and, of course, disadvantages. I wish theatre paid what cinema pays, and sometimes the contracts can be so long with theatre. But with theatre, you also have a very strong connection with your audience, which I love. I don’t think I can say either one is my favourite. A good actor strives for balance and a range of experiences.

Q: What can we expect to see you in next?

A:I’ll be flying over to Dublin for a small part in Colin Farrell’s next film ‘Triage’, which I’m excited about. It’s got a tiny cast but I love the script. After that , I’m doing a Spanish film short. I’ll be over in Spain filming for a week, one of the advantages of film (laughs). Then, it’s back home to Edinburgh to work on ‘Terminus’ for the Edinburgh festival.

Eden opens at The Light House
on May 30th