Fans of Irish actor Damien Molony have been put through the proverbial wringer in recent weeks. No sooner had the fifth series of cult BBC3 drama Being Human, in which Molony plays vampire Hal, been launched onto television screens than it was announced the supernatural success will be staked through the heart when this series comes to its bloody conclusion.
Lovers of the fangtastic drama can also see the emerging actor in the Royal Court production of Anders Lustgarten’s snappily titled If You Don’t Let Us Dream, We Won’t Let You Sleep, a drama without décor that begins previews on Friday.
We chatted to the 28-year-old actor, who, in the short time since leaving drama school, has scored the blood-sucking TV hit, a leading role at the National Theatre and now a play at Britain’s top new writing venue, and discovered more about inspirational rehearsals, the performers he admires and the commitment of Being Human’s fans.
CV in brief:
2011: Graduated from Drama Centre
2012: Joined TV hit Being Human
2012: Appeared in Travelling Light at the National Theatre
2013: Will star in If You Don’t Let Us Dream, We Won’t Let You Sleep at the Royal Court theatre
Where did you grow up and how did you become interested in acting?
I grew up in a small village in North Kildare about 40 minutes west of Dublin. I don’t know how I got into acting. I know it sounds like such a cliché, but it was always at the back of my head. I knew I was going to be an actor. I never saw myself in an office or working anywhere else.
It was only when I was in my final year at university in Dublin that I decided to really pursue acting. Some of my friends were applying for drama schools in London. I thought RADA was the only drama school in London, so I didn’t really think it was possible to come over to train. I applied for a few places and got into Drama Centre. It’s gone from there.
Tell me about If You Don’t Let Us Dream, We Won’t Let You Sleep?
It’s a show without décor, which is challenging but also incredibly exciting. Certainly in terms of storytelling for actors and directors alike, there’s a wonderful sense of freedom on the stage because there are no limitations in terms of “there’s the door, there’s the set, there’s the wall”.
It’s a fantastic play. It’s extremely provocative and a really eye-opening piece of theatre. We want audiences to come out of this play starting to ask questions about what the financial system is like, what regimes are in place and questioning what they’re about, because this offers up so many fantastic scenarios in the first half of the play and then deals with the repercussions.
The cast includes two Artistic Directors, Lucian Msamati of Tiata Fahodzi and Ferdy Roberts of Filter. What has it been like to work with them?
There are so many theatre makers – not just actors, but writers, directors and artistic directors – within the cast, as well as Simon [Godwin, the director], so it’s a wonderfully collaborative project, which makes problem solving so much easier. It’s really exhilarating in the rehearsal room because we have so many of these inspiring people, but also because anything can happen and anything is possible.
What’s your character like?
I play three different characters. It’s the first time I’ve actually got to play an Irish character, which is great. I can use my own accent. The Irish character is part of a protest group. Then I’m playing a cockney called Jason who is only in one scene, but it’s a very powerfully provocative scene. It’s very dangerous and very volatile, so it’s fun to play something like that. Then I play a workman dealing with the cuts and the austerity that has been forced upon us. It’s great to be able to play three very different characters in the space of 90 minutes.
How have you found starring in Being Human?
It’s been great. We work really hard to bring these episodes to life, so it’s really satisfying that finally now the audience gets to see it and they’re equally pleased with it. You really feel that you owe it to this core of fans, because Being Human is almost funded by the fans. The fans fought for it to have a series and another series and another series. We’re only here because of the fans, so it’s wonderful to be able to pay them back.
It will be great to have the TV show on at the same time as the play because last year, when I was at the National, a lot of fans from the show came to stage door to say hello and give me vampire presents. It’s great for the free T-shirt collection.
What drives you on as a performer?
Great scripts make it so exciting to work. Great directors. We have such an amazing director in Simon Godwin. He brings such an amazing energy into the rehearsal room. He has created this inspiring collaborative atmosphere that everyone can work with. It means I’m excited about getting up in the morning and coming into rehearsals, and about what possibilities we are going to discover or what we can do that will make yesterday’s scene so much better.
Which performers do you admire?
I think Simon Russell Beale is one of the greatest actors on stage at the moment. As soon as he’s confirmed for a new play I have to get tickets because I think he’s amazing.
There was a great speech at the start of the Young Vic’s Faust. There was an old man in a nursing home saying “I’ve played Hamlet, I’ve played Richard II, I’ve played Lear, I’ve played them all.” I was sitting there thinking “That is what I want to do.” I want to be able to look back and say I’ve played amazing parts, worked with great actors and amazing directors. That sounds very cheesy, but that really struck a chord with me to be honest.
What do you most enjoy about being on stage?
The best bit is working together with the company to try and tell a story to an audience that has never seen it before, and the volatility of that. There’s such an onus on actors and audiences alike to listen to everything that’s happening around them. That live nervousness and excitement every single night is something I will never tire of and I hope I never lose.
What’s the least enjoyable?
I can’t think of a least enjoyable thing other than forgetting your lines, but that’s a cop out. I really feel so lucky every time I’m on stage. It is such an honour.
If you weren’t an actor, what would you be?
I think if I wasn’t an actor I would be involved in some degree in theatre or film. When I was 18 I was in Sydney Australia and they were making Star Wars Episode 3 at the time. I remember begging someone for permission to get on set so I could sweep floors or whatever just to get close to the camera.
"There's a wonderful sense of freedom on the stage because there are no limitations"