Best known for his TV work, Liverpudlian MARK WOMACK goes online to answer Paul Byrne’s question about playing a soldier looking for justice in Ken Loach’s Route Irish.

This “shooting gallery’ along the Baghdad Airport Road – how did it get the name Route Irish?
Route Irish is named after the university of Notre Dame’s football team,’ the fighting Irish’.

The hard-on of going to war, where the comedown needs to be more than a visit to Tescos – did you taste that shooting in Jordan? Talking to Craig Lundberg?
I don t think going into any conflict for a soldier is a hard on moment….You’ve been watching too many American war films….Craig was a great person to have around in terms of sharing his experiences of the Iraq war with us.

Ken was hardly going to take a pro-war stance here – did you find your own thoughts on Iraq being affected by making the film?
Inevitably my own thoughts on the Iraq war were heavily influenced by making this film. The bottom line is that it’s an illegal war and we shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

There will be those soldiers who feel they are fighting the good fight, and that this is all part of the job – what would you say to them?
I met many good soldiers during the course of making the film. Most of them understood the importance of this film as it does not question them as soldiers but more the reasons as to why they are there, and the fact that the war is being privatized.

Those coming home shellshocked, possibly forever, where any amount of therapy or TLC will “never be enough”. Did you talk to any of those soldiers?
I spoke to soldiers and contractors who where suffering or being treated for post traumatic stress syndrome….It seems to me that they are trying to piece together what remains of their former lives…Many ex servicemen and women will suffer from PTSS and unfortunately the government are not doing a lot to help them.

The casting of John Bishop seems novel, or just commercially smart, given how little screen time he actually has…
John’s casting was a masterstroke by Ken and was by no means a bit of novelty casting as he wasn’t that well known when we made the film. Given that his screen time is limited… the part required somebody with a larger than life personality… which John certainly has.

Why is it that evil wankers are always attracted to golf?
GOLF…I don’t know to be honest.

You’ve built up a solid reputation over the years, much of it through your TV work – do you feel you’ve moved up the food chain here, headlining a Ken Loach film?
To be fair I would have played any of the parts to work with Ken…But to play this part was really special. A great experience….As for the food chain …..Im still waiting for the phone to ring!!!!

You’ve got The Runaway and I Against I coming out next (according to the not-always-reliable imdb) – any other projects in the pipeline…?
I have as you said got the Runaway and I against I coming out this year…But for the moment I’m on HMSS Domestic….School run…Walking the dogs etc.

Words – Paul Byrne

ROUTE IRISH is now showing at Irish cinemas