Roisin Murphy has always wanted to be an actress – starting her career by appearing in a Goodfellas pizza ad with her mother Charlotte Bradley, and moving to starring in RTE’s The Clinic and Stardust alongside her sister Ruth Bradley. The young star has also appeared on stage, most recently in a play called Chatroom by the Calipo Theatre Company which was included in Dublin’s Fringe Festival. Now, she’s playing Lara Hogan in the sensational new Irish film, What Richard Did. Flux caught up with Roisin to find out more about the role and working with legendary director Lenny Abrahamson.
How did you become involved in acting?
I always wanted to be an actress from as far back as I can remember. My mam really got me into acting; she always brought me along to her sets and helped me with script readings. I never thought of anything else other than acting. But when I was 4 years old, I asked my brother if I should become an actress or supermodel. He thought I should become a supermodel, so I could get super powers! I’m glad I chose acting instead.
For those who don’t know, can you describe what What Richard Did is about?
It is about a boy called Richard, who has just finished secondary school, where he was a golden boy and everyone loved him. Then one night, when he and his friends are out, his whole life changes. The film explores how he and others react to the tragic happenings of that night.
What drew you to What Richard Did and to Lara Hogan’s character?
I didn’t have script when I went in for the audition; there was no real script at that stage. I read one scene, and thankfully I got a call-back and then I was offered the part of Lara Hogan. We all did a workshop, in which the script was changed to suit us. Malcolm Campbell (the writer) and Lenny Abrahamson (the director) allowed the cast to have a major input into the script and we were able to develop our characters. Lenny really wanted to cast people similar to characters, so I guess I am pretty similar to Lara Hogan’s character.
Was it difficult partaking in this film knowing its link to the tragic death of Brian Murphy?
From the start they didn’t want any links to the real case. The film is also based loosely on the book Bad Day in Blackrock by Kevin Power. It’s just based on real life, things that happen today to anyone. Fights always happen – everyone knows someone, whether it is your brother or friend, who has been in a fight. This movie just shows what can happen.
What was it like working with Lenny Abrahamson?
Oh my, it was great, he is so nice and a brilliant director. For an actor, I felt that he was really good for the cast. He let you go along with your character and made you feel comfortable. He would always look out for you. I felt safe working with him as he allowed us to feel our characters out, and if we were making any mistakes, he would guide us in the right direction. Lenny really is one of Ireland’s best directors. It was the best part of working on film.
What Richard Did is a very emotional film, how did you prepare yourself to cry on camera?
I didn’t focus on crying during my scenes. I focused more on the emotion, which would make me cry. I really focused on what was happen to my character and thought: ‘How would I feel in her scenario?” I also used real life events that have happened to me to help me cry.
What was the best and worst thing about working on the film?
The best part was definitely working with Lenny and Ed Guiney, the producer. I feel so lucky to be associated with these men and I am so thankful I got to work with them. I also think that the fact that the film has such a young cast was brilliant, it was really good craic on set! The worst parts were the long hours filming in Wicklow, it was freezing! We had to wear heat packs under our clothes to keep us warm. They were long days; I would usually head out to the set for 5.30am and come home at 12 at night.
Are you doing anything new at the moment?
I just finished filming a short story called Blink, written by Gavin O’Connor. The film is about a torture victim who experiences painful flashbacks. I will also be visiting Los Angeles in a few weeks; I am going to get agent over there and to meet some new people. I am really excited!
Which three actors would you most like to work with, and why?
Oh that’s easy! Leonardo Di Caprio, because he is just a brilliant actor. Meryl Streep, again because she is an amazing actor and I love her films. And my third would be Paul Giamatti because he reminds me of my daddy!
What is your favourite film?
That’s a good question. When I was younger it was Ten Things I Hate About You. But I suppose now it would be Midnight in Paris. I love Woody Allen, I think he is one of the best directors out there and I really love his new films.
What is your most embarrassing moment on set?
I never really had any, thankfully. I guess it was pretty embarrassing when Lenny would film us without us knowing. I would be chatting with Jack Reynor, who plays Richard, and Lenny would capture that on camera. Lenny liked real moments with our characters, there are a few scenes in the film that I didn’t know were being filmed and I was like, oh god! But I really trusted Lenny and he would never put anything that was out of our characters in the film.
Did you like your character, Lara Hogan?
Yes I did. Lara is a very real character. People may not understand the reason for what she does in the film, but you have to think “What would I do in that situation?” Lara’s character is very conflicted and she has a very sad ending and I don’t think she will be the same after that. What happened on that night and what happened with Richard will affect her for the rest of her life.
What has been your favourite piece of work you have done?
What Richard Did and Stardust. Stardust was the first piece of professional work I did. It was my first time on camera and I was so glad to have my sister (Ruth Bradley) there. It made me feel comfortable as this show was extremely emotional, so you had to be sensitive to the story.
Would you like to work with your sister again?
I would love to work with Ruth again! My favourite thing would be for my brother Ferdia to direct a film and for myself, Mam, Dad and Ruth to star in the movie!