Get ready Hollywood… Irish actor Robert Sheehan is coming your way!
Born in Portlaoise, Sheehan has already made a name for himself in TV, he was the stand out actor in Channel 4’s sci-fi show MISFITS and then became a household name thanks to RTE’s LOVE/HATE where his movements on set became front-page news of the tabloids. Already he has a few movies on his CV, notably 2011’s under-rated KILLING BONO and the Nicolas Cage starring SEASON OF THE WITCH but his latest movie THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: THE CITY OF BONES is set to put him in a different league altogether. Based on a hugely successful series of six books, with five published so far, all signs point to it being the next big franchise with many calling it the next TWILIGHT. Robert has signed up to make three films, with the sequel set to begin shooting next month. Movies.ie caught up with him last month to talk BONES, MISFITS and all sorts of madness..
What can you tell us about your new movie THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: THE CITY OF BONES?
Robert Sheehan: It’s about a young woman who starts to discover magic abilities in herself but because she’s a normal girl she thinks she’s going crazy but what’s actually happening is the shadow of blood is starting to expose itself. Then she gets dragged into this dark magical world that exists in tandem with New York and discovers this ancient race of demon hunters called The Shadow Hunters and they’re part angel – part human. Their task is the eternal fight against the demonic forces that exist in parallel with our world. Its about a normal girl who gets thrust into this tragic world, I play her best mate Simon, who is harboring feelings of love for her and that’s why he holds on so tightly to her and gets dragged through this adventure as well.
When we interviewed Aidan Turner recently, he said that director Harald Zwart spotted him in the movie trailer for THE HOBBIT and called him in for an audition. How did Mr Zwart first discover you? What were the auditions like for the film?
RS: That’s not true, he saw Aidan in a porno called HAIRY DUDES.. To be honest, the reality of it is that I was very poindexter, I sent them several tape readings of myself doing the part. I didn’t win Harald around at all in the beginning in fact he thought I was wrong for the part but that’s half the job, convincing him that I’m not wrong. I managed to badger my way into a screentest in Toronto, we did some scenes and there was a lovely vibe, a nice chemistry, Harold filmed it and then I won him around. It was down to the very last second that he came around to my way of thinking, that I’m right for this part, God damn it.
There are six books in the MORTAL INSTRUMENTS series, are you signed up for all six books if the first movie is a success?
RS: I’ve already gotten the second script; we’re shooting at the end of September. The old powers that be behind this, Constantine, they’re half American-Half German, they’ve got high hopes for this. I’m signed up for three films, so that’s nice and its exciting that they feel comfortable enough to put the second one into production before the first one comes out. To make three will be a great success.
Vampire and Werewolf movies have changed considerably over the past few years and have almost become family friendly… Did you feel the need to go back to watch anything from this genre be it older vampire movies filled with blood and guts or more modern takes like THE VAMPIRE DIARIES filled with hugs and kisses?
RS: Even though MORTAL INSTRUMENTS is set in a really dark world there is a real tongue and cheekiness irreverent thing of young people trying to digest all this madness, doing it through a very normal way. Its certainly not in the same vain as epic dark vampire films like INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, its more like normal people with crazy sh*t happening to them, and one of those things just happens to be turning vampiric and then discovering demon hunters and werewolves. Not to be a complete cliché, it’s a human story and that’s what’s lovely about the books is that the Vampire characters and the super natural characters are really normal, they just happen to have these bizarre abilities. I saw a few hours of footage recently in postproduction and *giggles*, there’s a lovely tone to it and that’s what will strike it out as a unique piece. When you’re shooting its hard to get a feel for the tone, especially something of this size and scope you have to realize on day one that you’re a very, very small cog in a gigantic machine. This is a big logistically huge film, so you have to look after your own little piece & your own little story. There’s ten other departments looking after ten other things all around you, so all of that coming together its impossible to know how its going to come together. Obviously Harald (director) knew exactly what he wanted, he was after something very real, very dark, nothing played for comedy. We don’t want a comedy called CITY OF BONES… or a porno. Imagine that? I’d like to see the porno star version of myself.
As well as yourself and Aidan Turner, the movie also stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers and honorary Irish man Jared Harris. Is this just because the Irish are better looking and better at acting than everyone else or is there a particular Irish connection to the story?
RS: Yes, that first bit… *laughs* It was nice to have a load of hibernos on the film together. It was largely accidental. Harald (director) has good taste, he see’s a dashing young lad in THE HOBBIT and sees young Rhys Meyers in various things looking very sexy-sexy-tastic and then he saw me… looking quite average. It was a nice little clan.
There’s talk of THE MORTAL INSTUMENTS becoming the next TWILIGHT, There’s even a quote from TWILIGHT author Stephenie Meyer on the cover. TWILIGHT was massive, and for the cast it brought stellar levels of fame. Already you must get recognized on the street but are you prepared for a Robert Pattinson style of fan worship?
RS: Yes… I’ve been building altars to myself around key areas of Dublin, London, all the real capitals. People can come and leave locks of their hair, flakes of their skin as offerings to me, small children, I’ll accept anything really. Dead goats, live goats. That would be great wouldn’t it, if Robert Pattinson built a shrine to himself with skulls and stuff. Being serious though, you can’t expect that, I’m sure Pattinson wasn’t expecting what the phenomena around TWILIGHT and what became of himself. It’s a very scary hysteria that surrounds him, he’s become this cultural icon. It’s great because he I’m sure can pick and choose the work he wants to do to some extent. That’s the real bonus of being ridonkulously famous, there’s a lot of challenges to it as well.
On the subject of getting recognized, news of your return to LOVE/HATE was topical enough to make headline news on the front page of the Evening Herald – Its about to start airing in the UK and there’s talk of a US remake… Were you surprised by how successful the show has been so far?
RS: Absolutely, hugely surprised. You can never know what will become of a show, would it even be seen as good. You might think you’re making the best thing in the world but when it goes out in to the world it doesn’t click with people. Certainly Ireland reacted really well to show, the country came together on a Sunday night. It’s hugely pleasing, a great source of pride.
You left Channel 4’s super-hero show MISFITS at the height of its popularity. There’s recently been talk of a spin-off movie being made, is that something you’d consider if approached?
RS: There has been talk, there certainly has been talk and it is something I would consider, absolutely, I had an absolutely glorious time making that show, it was so much fun, so I would never ever say never.
THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES is now showing in cinemas
Words: Vincent Donnelly