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September 7th, 2017   Posted by admin

Richard Dormer gave up on acting three times before rediscovering his love for the job with a little help from a flaming sword in Game of Thrones, the Northern Irish actor tells Eithne Shortall.

Ttimesculture0817-1 

On entering the Belfast pub where I am meeting Richard Dormer, all eyes turn to me. The staff have been watching the door; they want to know who is here to see the celebrity that arrived a couple of minutes earlier.

“Are you a journalist?” asks the bartender.

“Yes.”

“He’s outside.”

Sitting in the smoking area of the Sunflower pub with a mug of coffee and a packet of cigarettes is the 47-year-old actor who used to pass unnoticed. Then he got a recurring role in Game of Thrones — and his character was given a flaming sword.

“The sword went down a storm with the fans, even though I think they forgot I was in season three way back when,” says Dormer of the initial appearance of his character Beric Dondarrion. “I did have another offer when they asked me to come back. I was almost going to do the other job, but they wrote to me and said, ‘You’re going to be doing great stuff, so choose us’ — and I’m really glad I did. I’m not even on screen that much, but what it’s done for my profile is just exceptional. It’s crazy.”

Before returning to the world’s most popular television show, he was occasionally recognised for being in Sky Atlantic’s Fortitude. “The most recognisable characters I play have beards, and I’m growing this for season eight,” he says of his thick, red-hued facial hair. “If I’m clean-shaven, nobody recognises me. I’m completely anonymous.”

With a lived-in face juxtaposed against perfect white teeth, and wearing a tieless suit with a few shirt buttons undone, Dormer has an aesthetic reminiscent of the morning after an enjoyable awards ceremony. It fits the rugged charm shared by most of his characters, although this will not be immediately evident in his next starring role.

Rellik (“killer” spelled backwards) is a BBC drama about a spate of acid attacks being investigated by a detective who is himself a victim. The story is told backwards, and filming involved Dormer sitting in make-up for two hours each morning as three-quarters of his face was covered in prosthetics. “They would never have given me Rellik if I hadn’t done Fortitude, because they saw I could carry a show,” he says.

Success for Dormer arrived in his forties, and he was always conscious that actors usually make it young or not at all. “If I had this success 20 years ago, I don’t think I’d have been mature enough to handle it. So I think it happened at a time when I was ready. I actually didn’t want it when I was younger. I gave up acting three times, feeling this is the wrong job for me.”

The first time he quit was in his twenties; straight after finishing a West End show, he flew home to his parents in Armagh. “I needed to get away from that intense life, that London life. I didn’t like the entertainment industry, I didn’t want to be part of it and I didn’t want to lose myself. I do think there are some people in this business who shouldn’t be in it; emotionally they’re not strong enough. And I wasn’t back then, so I think it was quite wise to do what I did.

“Then I spent years trying to claw back the years I’d lost. Twice I had to re-establish my career. When I came back with Hurricane,” he says of the hit play about snooker player Alex Higgins that he wrote and starred in at the age of 33, “that made my mark. I was back, but only as a theatre actor. All my life I’d only done theatre.”

Finding his agent changed things.

Dallas Smith, a hot shot in the world of representation, told the actor to refuse theatre jobs for a year and see if any screen work materialised. Dormer recalls thinking that, having entered his forties, he was a bit long in the tooth to suddenly “make it”, but needed to take the gamble if he wanted to make money. “I did it, and eight months later nothing. Then I got Good Vibrations offered to me,” he says of the Northern Irish indie film about the record producer Terri Hooley. “And from then, Game of Thrones, everything, it all just started happening. The gamble paid off.”

Dormer has not done theatre for seven years. He considers himself an emotional actor, someone who lives the part rather than acts it. He does not practise method acting: “What are you going to do if you’re playing a serial killer — go out and kill somebody?” Instead he believes in the character he plays, until part of his psyche is convinced it is real.

You could be standing in a bar and suddenly break down crying

After an intense role he has a therapy session in which he reasserts who he is: I’m Richard Dormer, I’m an actor, etc. “You could be standing in a bar having a conversation and suddenly break down crying. You would know what it was but the other person would be thinking, ‘Jesus Christ, you’re a mental mess,’ and you’re not. It’s just you have all these feelings and they have nowhere to go.”

Dormer wrote six plays, but he has given that up too. There was talk of turning Hurricane into a film — Higgins wanted too much money, however. “Like, he wanted the budget of the film,” says Dormer, and when he said no, so did Higgins. “Which was pretty horrible of him, considering all the years we’d known each other and all the money I’d given him in royalties from the play.”

Dormer has left the Higgins saga behind him — “bigger fish to fry” — but for years he was fascinated by the Belfast snooker player. He puts this down to the commonalities in their lives; both working-class Protestants who left Northern Ireland for England at around the same age. “We were both good at what we did and we both went off the tracks a bit.”

He draws parallels between Higgins’s experience and his own feelings of being a second-class citizen when at Rada, the prestigious London drama school. “I felt I was never good enough. George Best is another one. No matter what success they have they think, ‘I don’t deserve this,’ and that’s because they grew up in Troubles, and every time you heard a Northern Irish accent on TV it was because somebody’s killed somebody and, you know, a lot of negative stuff around being Northern Irish and Protestant in the 1970s and 1980s.”

Dormer’s wife, Cork-born Rachel O’Riordan, is artistic director of a theatre in Cardiff. He declines to say how they divide their time geographically, but he owns a house in Belfast. He spends most of the year in London, or wherever he is shooting. Currently that means Northern Ireland, and then Iceland, for Fortitude’s third season. “That’s me working until next June,” grins the actor, delighted to be proof that life does begin at 40.

 

Source: The Sunday Times


Welcome to RichardDormerfan
The first source of information on the internet supporting the career of Irish actor Richard Dormer, most know for his roles as Sheriff Dan Anderssen in Fortitude, Game of Thrones and most recently Rellik. This website will provide you with the most up to date news, projects, images and so much more on Richard's career and appearances.
Recent Projects

GAME OF THRONES
Character: Beric Dondarrion
  Status: Series 7 aired on Sky Atlantic July/Aug 2017
 


RELLIK
Character: Gabriel Markham
  Status: Airs on BBC1 Sept 11 at 9pm 2017
 


FORTITUDE
Character: Sheriff Dan Andersen
  Status: Series 2 DVD available to buy fromn amazon
 


THE MUSKETEERS
Character: Christophe
  Status: Available on DVD via amazon
 


MAKING DADS ARMY
Character: David Croft
  Status: Available on DVD via amazon
 

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