By Owen Quinn
Today we talk to Irish actor Eugene Horan who started on a very different career path before ending up in front of the camera. Here he tells us his story, working with Patrick Bergin and what the future holds. Hi Eugene, can you tell us about yourself?
Born and raised in Claregalway, Co. Galway. Surrounded by a wonderful family, great friends and a loving girlfriend who give me incredible support and encouragement in chasing my dreams!
You did many school productions growing up. Was acting as a career choice simply an extension of those days?
I only did a couple of student productions to be fair but my great love of art and design was probably an early indication of my creative streak.
You’re also an artist and sportswear designer I hear? Did you ever think they’d be safer career choices?
I’ve never thought like that, certainly not at that age. I’ve always believed in reaching for the stars and never giving up and although I love having other interests too, acting at the highest level is my ultimate ambition.
Was your time as a fitness instructor, artist and designer a good training ground for acting, given you met so many diverse people and characters? In that I mean, when you became a full time actor, you would find yourself looking at a character and relating it back to something or someone from those days?
With various roles come various physical demands with each character you play so my qualifications in sports fitness and nutrition really do help with that side of things. The art & design background probably does enhance my creative streak when playing various characters.
What made you give it all up to pursue acting?
I still do some design work and I really enjoy it but acting gives me the biggest buzz. I’m fascinated by preparing for a role, studying a character and becoming them, especially real life characters where you study every fine detail from their tone of voice, accent and their body language.
How did you go about getting yourself noticed in the industry and building your profile?
There’s no substitute for hard work. Recognition will follow sooner or later. I hear people use the word ‘luck’ but I’m a firm believer in creating your own luck. ‘Luck’ is when preparation meets opportunity.
Tell us about being handpicked to represent Ireland in an acting convention in Los Angeles. What is that all about?
It’s a long time ago now but it was a fantastic experience and an incredible honour to be selected. A very strong group of Irish talent went out to L.A and I was blown away by the feedback I received by some of Hollywood’s top agencies. I guess, this is when I knew I must have something worth pursuing and that experience has inspired me ever since.
Justin O’Brien then approached you for a role in Ghosts of Erin didn’t he?
Not exactly. I had actually already filmed my role with Justin for ‘Ghosts of Erin’ but when I came back from L.A Justin began rewriting the script because the film enhanced its budget and after reading about my awards in L.A he then offered me the chance to play a much bigger role, which I was incredibly grateful for! The film was later renamed ‘Ghostwood’.
What was Patrick Bergen like to work with? Was it daunting for you at all as this was your first big role?
Not at all! Patrick is an absolute gentleman and is a genius on set! He sees things nobody else sees and I’ve learned so much from him! One piece of advice always stays with me and I often repeat to others wanting to get into the field. “Don’t act… Re-act”.
Your lines come far more naturally to you when you fully understand the situation. It shouldn’t be all about memorizing your lines word for word. A combination of a good script, understanding a scene and being in the moment makes for a far more realistic and believable scene. These are all things Patrick Bergin passed onto me and I think that’s great advice.
You also performed your own stunts, I hear actively pursued the chance to do so, your sports background would obviously been a great advantage there.
Yes, I remember the stunt team asking me for my height/weight etc and when I asked why, I was told that they just wanted to find a similar sized body double for the stunt scenes. I said “No chance! I wanna do that myself!!” The production was thrilled to hear this as it meant they didn’t have to hire a body double, plus it meant that they could then show my face on screen while stunts were being performed!
I did have to take time out and do a little crash course (pardon the pun) in stunt training, learn how to fall correctly and position your body to absorb impact etc. I have always had a little dare devil side to me ever since I was young so I jumped at the chance to perform the stunts and I would definitely volunteer with any future stunts, it’s an incredible adrenaline rush!
What roles did you get after that?
I started to get a couple of small T.V roles with RTÉ such as ‘The Clinic’, ‘Fair City’ and ‘Stardust’. All very enjoyable experiences and of course they added to my experience but after getting a taste of movies I craved more.
You were cast in the role of Trevor Long for which you bulked up but the production was pulled. What happened there?
Yes, that was very unfortunate. The movie was controversial right from the beginning due to its explicit content, which was based on actual events. I lived and breathed that role for a long time and it was my first lead role in a feature film so to have the movie go belly up due to death threats was sickening to say the least! Especially when we had about ¾ of the filming completed! Things got nasty and investors pulled out but when it gets personal and people are in danger, you have to take a step back and look at what’s more important. It was a disappointment but I understood the decision that was taken. I grew a lot stronger as an actor and as a professional after that. It was an invaluable learning curve.
Stephen Patrick Kenny praised you for the effort and energy you put into the role. You seem to be an all or nothing actor when taking a role?
It is nice to be recognised by someone of Stephen’s calibre. He’s a fantastic director who demands the best from his actors and that keeps us all on our toes. Steve wears his heart on his sleeve and will rip you to pieces if your performance slips and I love that about him! The standard he sets is so high and the nature of his scripts, filled with intensity and raw emotion really does get you revved up on set! Equally, Steve is the first to throw an arm around you when you nail a scene and he also provides many hilarious moments on set! You should see a collection of our outtakes!!! I love his style and I genuinely love working with him!
What do you look for in a script before accepting a role?
Very good question! It really depends. If the character is a real person then you need to see how exactly you’re going to transform into them. Can you ‘become’ them? My answer is always yes because I believe I have the versatility to do so. That’s not arrogance, that’s just self belief in my own ability.
If the character is fictional, I begin to look at how I see this character. What traits do they have, what’s their attitude like, their habits, body language, their tone of voice, accent and their attire. Some directors can be strict on how they want a character to be played, others allow you a little freedom to make the character your own. As an actor, that is a fantastic freedom to be given!
Can you tell us about the Underground; that was a physical role too wasn’t it?
Well, I took a punch from World Champion boxer Steve ‘Celtic Warrior’ Collins… funnily enough I don’t remember much after that…;)
Undead was a zombie flick. Are you a horror fan at all?
I watch most types of movies really, if not for entertainment purposes, then at least to learn something new! I will always find something new to take on board from different movies but the funny thing about ‘Undead’ was, it was actually one of the more enjoyable shoots I’ve done in the last couple of years! We had so much fun getting all that blood and gore make up by the gifted John Berry and running around like crazy in an old abandoned warehouse. Great fun! Actually, there’s a scene in it where I jump onto the shoulder of a giant zombified butcher and when he drops me to the floor he actually stood on my ankle (this guy was about 6ft 5 with a monster frame!). I was in agony but you got to suffer through it when the cameras are rolling! That was about a year and a half ago and my ankle hasn’t been right since!
Were you surprised at how much talent there is in this country both in front of and behind the camera?
Not at all, this country has so much talent that is recognized across the globe, from acting, to music, to the sport stars. It is just a shame that a lot of the time, the land of opportunity lies elsewhere…
Are you interested in writing and directing someday? Working with the likes of Justin and Stephen, I would assume you get to see quite a lot of how a movie is put together?
Absolutely! Script writing is definitely something I plan to get into very soon in fact! I know the likes of Stephen will always be at hand to offer words of advice. He wants others to succeed too and that’s what makes him such a top bloke.
I’ve always said I’d love to write a comedy. I think Irish humour is well received in the states but you need the right balance. After all, nobody wants to be reading subtitles just to understand the Irish slang!!!
But for now, I’m working very hard in co with my good friend Wayne Pocket Rocket McCullough, with the aim of bringing his incredible life story to the silver screen. Watch this space…
Can you tell us about Somebody’s There? Was it a gruelling shoot?
It was a very enjoyable shoot. I think it felt quiet natural due to the fact it is documentary style and were almost just being ourselves. Plus, the cast all knew each other very well from previous projects and I would consider many as close personal friends at this stage so in that sense, it was all very comfortable and enjoyable on set.
I think the most gruelling part of this shoot was our epic battle into the early hours against the Connemara mountain migits!!!! J
What advice would you give to any budding actor thinking about starting out?
Don’t act, re-act!
Never take rejection personally. I once auditioned for the role of a footballer and was very confident of landing the part… Only to be rejected and told I was ‘too believable as a professional footballer!’ (Turns out they wanted a comical Sunday League type with a beer belly!)
Never give up… you’ll never know just how close you may have been!
Is there a role that you would love to have played?
I would love to portray a boxer! I’ve always loved a great boxing movie! I’ve also always wanted to do a prison movie!
However, my dad often jokes, you’re not a real actor until you do a western, so I’ll put that on my list too! J
What defines a good movie for you?
I love a movie that grabs your attention from the very opening scene.
I love an action packed thriller, a hilarious unpredictable comedy or even the simplicity of a powerful story.
How important is it for an actor to have several strings to their bow?
Very. I cannot understand when I hear an actor say, “I don’t do accents”, or “Nah, that’s just not me”. I thrive on the challenge of taking on different roles, different accents and different physical appearances. I want to constantly challenge myself to improve and grow as an actor with incredible versatility. Why limit yourself to your comfort zone and become type cast?
What have you in the pipeline?
-I look forward to my rematch with Steve Collins (yeah right!) when we begin filming the upcoming feature ‘The Street’. I’m also currently in discussions with three other projects, both in the U.K & in the States so hopefully they come to light.
But for now, I’m looking forward to catching some of our locally produced talent at the 25th Galway film Festival and then I’m off on a much deserved holiday for a bit of a recharge before I begin shooting my next film! Anyone can find out more about me at