KEVIN MAGEE catches up with Dublin actor John Connors and Glasgow born musician Gary Og, who were visiting the city during the Bloody Sunday anniversary weekend.
Imagine my surprise to find out this week that Cardboard Gangsters is on Netflix, just over a week since the Nerve Centre screening. Writer and star John Connors was kind enough to have a word over a cup of coffee afterwards.
You’ve had a massive amount of success with Love/Hate and now Cardboard Gangsters, are there still problems for a traveller in the acting community?
“The film industry in Ireland is a really classist industry and made up of upper class people, it is a problem but I look beyond it and look beyond Ireland”.
How true to your own life is Cardboard Gangsters?
“Some are my experiences, some are friends’, stories I heard, things I saw happen, just a big concoction of stuff that’s made up and stuff that’s true and just made a narrative.”
So do you intend to do more pieces like that in the future.
“The only way I know how to write is to keep it personal, I don’t know how to write any other way and that’s kind of my hook”
Has anybody come knocking for any other kind of roles since the success has been mounting?
“There’s a big role coming up for me but I’m not allowed to say what it is.” He really won’t tell me. “I’m not allowed to say what it is, but it’s UK financed and shot in a few different countries….so we’ll see”.
Is it better to be independent and have control as in Cardboard Gangsters or just to act in someone else’s film?
“As an actor you’re just a gun for hire but when you write you can create a character.”
So would you play you play just anybody if someone dangled the right amount of money in front of you? “I’m not really motivated by money, people think you’re a millionaire because they see you on TV but they don’t know that Irish stuff is really independent and you just end up getting a basic minimum wage."
Has the path cleared for other travellers with your profile being raised?
“A lot of people are going down different routes for sure, I looked up to Michael Collins who acted in Glenroe, I wanted to do what he did and even further….and now younger travellers are going down different roads”.
I’ve been talking about how Bloody Sunday has become calmer over the years, have you kept up with the events here?
“Yeah it seems that the time for being loud has passed, the marchers up here have found out that just shouting loudest doesn’t work.” He elaborates, “I haven’t had great opportunities down south because of being a republican, being any way political doesn’t help when you’re an actor but I don’t care. You have to at least feel free to express what you want to express, I have strong feelings, I’m going to stick to my beliefs and see what happens.”
And in the next seat...
He doesn’t let the cat out of the bag about his new role, meanwhile, a mere seat away, Gary Óg offers his pearls of wisdom, he has been coming to Derry since 1995/96, around the time Derry Girls was happening, and in particular has played over the course of the weekend at a variety of events and venues. I caught up with him this year to see if he thought the times were a changin’.
What changes have you seen?
“That there are fewer people here, there were loads of Europeans that came over in years gone by and bars like Peadar O’Donnell’s, The Gweedore, Tracey’s and The Castle would be rammed all weekend….It’s moved indoors from playing on the back of a lorry at Bull Park, kind of upmarket, into Culturlann and the Gasyard.”
Are you playing in nicer venues for a rebel musician?
“They’ve certainly become more technologically sophisticated, the days of playing through a megaphone in Creggan are gone. The audience is more of a sit-down crowd now than a jump around the place, going crazy crowd….I don’t know if that means people are becoming more reflective. As you come to an end point people go their separate ways and look back with a bit more perspective."
Gary played the Culturlann on Fri and Sandinos on Sunday and enjoyed the variety of events over the course of the Bloody Sunday weekend especially being out of his comfort zone during the interview. It should also be noted that when asked Gary Óg stated he preferred Derry to Belfast.
And Susie too...
Speaking of Derry, Susie Blue released her debut album “Didn’t Mean to Care” today and can be found on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon and YouTube. You can catch the band live in Sandinos on February 17 and DBD Dublin on March 2.
Thanks to Coach for the photos.
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