Gemma Creagh talks to actor Caoilfhionn Dunne about her role in Ciaran Creagh’s In View, which is released in cinemas from 19th May 2017.
Caoilfhionn plays Ruth, whose life is one of burgeoning guilt dominated by rage, alcoholism, depression and self-loathing which has its origins in a once-off drunken indiscretion with a work colleague some years previous.
In View was awarded first prize for best screenplay at the 2016 Rhode Island International Film Festival and Caoilfhionn was nominated in the best actress category in the 2017 Irish Film and Television Awards.
What’s your background in acting?
I trained at the Gaiety School, a part-time, one-year course first of all and then a full-time, two-year course. I had been in the University of Limerick studying law, French and Sociology but dropped out about halfway through to do acting.
Every parent’s dream…
Yes, it really is. As you can imagine they were over the moon! At first, I was mainly working in theatre, but got into film when I did a short with Hugh O’Conor called Corduroy, and then Love/Hate came along, which was my big TV break.
What’s different about working in theatre, film and television, and what is it you like about them?
Well, they all bleed into each other in some respects. I love live theatre. I love the feeling of being in the room with an audience and feeding off them. There’s a wonderful exchange that happens in that one moment. The next night it is you and an entirely different group of people. So, each night, everybody in the room together has a shared, unique experience. I love that about theatre.
I love film because you get to experiment with how little is required to express a huge amount. I love playing with that. And how much you can convey with as little as possible.
And with TV, the great thing is you get to create a person and carry them through a longer storyline. And you become part of a family.
They all have their own things but do feed into each other a lot.
Turning to In View, Ruth is a very intense character to play. How did you get into the headspace for this?
I read it and just went on what Ciaran [Creagh, the writer/director] had written. I didn’t want to pay too much attention to her job or her identity as a guard, but just to focus on a human being who feels there is no other option. I wanted to explore that. It’s a subject that is very close to my heart, especially with what’s happening in Ireland at the moment and how we do not deal with mental health problems and the problems associated with them. So it was tough, to say the least, but it was worth it to get that character and these subjects on the screen.
They’re subjects that have affected every single Irish person on some level, whether we choose to acknowledge them or not. Those things have been around us, if not in us then around. So it’s important to have look at that and acknowledge it.
As an actor, do you bring something of yourself to the characters you play?
I think they are all bits of me – when I approach something I try to find what I know of it. You have to look at yourself and ask, is there a bit of me like that? There’s four main states of being: happy, sad, afraid and angry and we’ve all been there in varying degrees. That’s where I start… what do I know? How can I access that? What part of me do I have? I think that is important for me to maintain a truth throughout what I’m playing, to ground it in something real.
Is there any role in particular you’d like to play?
Mmmmm. I would love to do a comic book movie… something with action.
You had a few action scenes in Love/Hate – did you get a taste for it?
I did, but I want to be green-screening this, jumping off stuff. Doing mad things. I’m a big comic book and fantasy fan so that’s the kind of stuff I love reading and it’s something that I’d love to do – and it’s big at the moment.
Who would be the person you love to play?
I’ve always had my eye on Jean Grey from the X-Men but they have their new Jean Grey now so that’s gone out the window. I suppose I’ll just have to write one myself!
And you can base it in Ireland. I think we’re due a good superhero movie.
Yeh. I think we need a good action movie in Ireland. The last one was Haywire with Gina Carano, jumping across Dublin rooftops and kicking the life out of lads. So, I think we’ve nailed the comedy and the tragedy; it’s time for a big action movie in Ireland.
If you were starting out now and you could give yourself some advice, what would it be?
I would say, get to do everything. Do stage, do screen, do dance, learn to juggle, learn to ride a horse. Learn as many skills as you possibly can because one day that there will always be dips and there will be times when one side of things isn’t going as well. And, also, just arm yourself with as many skills as you possibly can because they will always come in useful and you may open yourself up to jobs that otherwise would have been unavailable to you.
In View is in cinemas from 19th May 2017