Ciaran Hinds on Becoming an Actor During The Troubles in Northen Ireland

john-carter-ciaran-hindsCiaran Hinds.  The name probably doesn’t ring a bell, but you’ve doubtlessly seen the Northern Irish actor in There Will Be Blood, Road to Perdition, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, and the upcoming John Carter, among dozens of other films. 

He sat down with NPR to discuss his role on the British TV series Above Suspicion, but he also talked about how he became an actor and how he copes when he isn’t being cast in every other film that’s coming soon.

Like most actors, Ciaran (pronounced “Keeran”) has a story on how he became actor, but I’d say that his is among the more interesting ones I’ve ever heard since he came from Northern Ireland in one of its most violent eras.  He explains, “It was quite extraordinary because at the same time I wasn’t running away from what was going on the north of Ireland, but it was insane in 1973. Civil rights had kicked off ’68, ’69 and the army had moved in; we have internment introduced. There were tit-for-tat killings. And it was sort of something that you began to accept just part of the life that went on there. But there was nowhere, as I decided that maybe I would try and change to be an actor, there was nowhere Ireland at that time that you could do that. So, the only place is to head over to England and see if you could get a placement in one of the theater schools there, which is what I did.”

He points out that even though he wasn’t from very far away he was very much an outsider, explaining, “So, I have to say I arrived over, I suppose, in ’73 to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. And I had very long hair, and I was going around in skinny denims and bare feet. And I probably had a chip on both shoulders. But what I did understand was how fortunate I was to come over at a proper age and meet young English people who were as inquisitive of what was going on there, what was it all about, and it wasn’t about just one nation against another. There was a whole people who wanted to know, to understand, what was the way out, what we could do. So, for me, I was quite lucky.”

Despite Hinds’ long, successful career, he does have the odd dry spell from time-to-time.  He confesses that even though he’s very prolific, he has conflicting feelings when he doesn’t have a role lined up.  He explains, “One of like, well, you – A, you’ve finally been rumbled, and, B, well, it lets the pressure off for a bit. Because when every time you come to work, you think you have to kid yourself that you can do it and it doesn’t get any easier the older you get. You’ve just got more doubts.”

Ciaran Hinds next appears in John Carter, opening Friday.

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