I recently met up with Laurence Kinlan, best known for his incredible performances as of one of our favourite TV characters, Elmo from Love Hate. With an acting career including theatre (you'll see him again in the Gaiety in the New Year in the hilarious Breaking Dad), film (you'll no doubt remember his performance in Ned Kelly) and TV, there's no denying his talent. We sat down over lunch in House where we noshed on tomato bruschettas and feta salad and caught up on his projects and plans for the New Year. As well as bursting with talent he's one of the nicest and most interesting men I've ever met and incase you're wondering... No his garden apparently is not decorated with gnomes!
Love Hate is no doubt Ireland's most loved TV show, and something that as a country we're all really proud of. We all felt in the office that the one word that perfectly describes the show is 'gritty'. It represents a part of Dublin that exists but that many of us are blind to. Did you have to do much research into the role prior to filming?
I didn't really need to. I grew up in the city centre in Dublin 1 and a lot of my mates went off and did things similar to the people portrayed in the show. We also had people like Paul Williams writing about gangland Ireland every week in the papers. I think when you're doing something totally otherworldly you definitely have to do a lot of research, but this role wasn't something I had to do a lot of research for.
What are those dark, gritty scenes like to film? I imagine they must be really emotionally draining...
You have to get into a frame of mind that's upsetting and you have to go into yourself, so shooting those scenes are tough. There are other times when you can have the craic, like if we're all running away together or driving off from a crime. But even watching back the dark scenes can still be really tough, especially when you hear of similar incidents actually happening in real life in the news every week.
People are wondering if there will be another series, and if so, when? We were thinking a prequel would be a great idea, about how all the gang members became friends and fell into crime in the first place.
It's funny you say that because in the show it's never explained how they know one another and none of them seem like life long friends. I don't think gang members ever really are, a lot of them just do things for money. That's an interesting thought though!
There's a lot of talk of Love Hate being remade in America, if it was being remade who would you like to see playing Elmo?
Oh it's so hard, the field is so big. What ever they may do, they'd have to Americanise it as it's just not going to work the way it is. I always imagine it would have to be made in Boston or somewhere. We've talked about it for a year or so thinking it was bought and would be remade with American actors, but I haven't heard anymore about it. I'm not sure they need it there, they have The Wire and The Sopranos, whereas Love Hate was new in Ireland. God, if I was to pick an actor to play Elmo off the top of my head... Maybe Michael Cera. He's too nice though, isn't he?!
Michael Cera, that's an unusual one! I thought you were going to say Brad Pitt!
Well he's quietly vulnerable in the same way Elmo was. Elmo was a bit of a coward too.
Are you thinking of going to America to act?
I spent a bit of time in LA after I shot Ned Kelly back in 2004 and I loved it. But then my little boy came along and that changed things a little bit, I wanted to be here to pick him up from school and do all the things that fathers do. Although I had that drive to be off working on bigger projects, I just stepped back a little bit to make sure I was there for him. I think he's old enough know and understands that Daddy has to go away for work sometimes, so maybe I'll think about it more in the next year or two. The great thing about work now is that you can tape your auditions, and LA is more of a production office so you don't need to be based there. 9 out of 10 films are shot in Europe.
It seems that Irish actors are having a real moment right now, with shows like Love Hate profiling some of the country's top talent. Do you think there are more opportunities now than before?
Extra opportunities sprang up when Colin Farrell went off to do Tigerland. His break through performance in that really opened casting directors eyes to the talent in the country. When you find someone somewhere, it generates interest. Then Cillian Murphy came along and many other amazing actors who things happened for. I think the interest in Irish actors was always there, but I think there is now more trust in making things here. A lot of times companies and producers can try and take too much control. It was a brave decision by RTE to let Stuart Carolan just do what he wanted to do, but it paid off.
What other actors from Love Hate (aside from yourself of course) do you think we should keep an eye out for?
Charlie Murphy is doing great and was fantastic playing Siobhan, Tom was great playing Nidge, Killian Scott is doing really well... I mean there's a lot of really strong actors in the show so it's hard to pick one. You kind of have to not believe in your own hype too. When I went off to shoot Ned Kelly people were saying 'that's it, you've made it', but you start thinking 'what does that mean' and 'what is making it?', and then things might slow down. I've been on projects where the people with the smallest roles have went on to achieve great success. So it really is hard to call.
That's true. So what are you up to now? What projects are you working on?
I'm a little bit quiet for Christmas which is great. Straight away in the New Year I'll be going back to Breaking Dad which is the rerun of the Ross O'Carroll-Kelly play that I did earlier in the year. So I'll be rehearsing and then performing in the Cork Opera House and the Gaiety. Beyond that, there are a few possibilities but I'll wait and see on that. It's hard to tie down things this early. I'm also looking to work with my mate Domhnall Gleeson and a few others that I worked on Boy Eats Girl with, we're talking about making a film together in the future. We have loads of cool ideas so we're narrowing it down now. We're at the latter stages of putting pen to paper.
I can't wait to hear more about that! So what are your plans for Christmas?
I'm off for Christmas with my two kids. I used to hate Christmas as my own father died a few days before Christmas Day many years ago, but when you have kids it just changes your whole perspective. I really love it now, I'm looking forward to relaxing with them over the holidays.
Where are people most likely to bump into you over the holidays?
Well I come here (House) a lot, so I'll probably come over here and maybe do a few pub crawls. I love Kehoe's so probably there and a few other Dublin pubs around the city.