The 9th Annual Irish Film and Television Awards are just around the corner. The biggest social event of the Irish cultural calendar; a night of glitz and glamour held in the stunning Convention Centre Dublin where the biggest names in Irish and International film and television come together to honour the most talented in their industry.
Excitement kick-started in earnest this week as the nominees for IFTA 2012 were unveiled by the Irish Academy (see list here) and last week it was announced that Irish actor Simon Delaney (Roy, This Must Be The Place) would be coming back to host the Awards for a second consecutive year.
IFTN recently caught up with the actor to talk about a jam packed year he has had in 2011 and what’s in store for 2012 - including a new series with Keifer Sutherland and a guest spot on ‘The Good Wife’ - read on for more...
IFTN - So you had a really busy year since the IFTAs. Tell us about it.
Simon Delaney - Well I have been over and back to the States. I went out there for two months in the summer and while I was there I landed a lovely little job called ‘Touch’, which is Kiefer Sutherland’s new show. I auditioned for the pilot and got the part. We shot the pilot and since then the show has been picked up by Fox. It’s brilliant, you should watch the trailer it will absolutely blow your mind. The fact that it is Kiefer Sutherland’s next TV gig and it’s written by the guy who wrote ‘Heroes’, Tim Kring, there is a lot of expectation around it. I am in episode one, which is premiering in the states on the 24th January, and I don’t die; I don’t fall down an elevator shaft like Joe Tribbiani. (laughs) The word from the producers is that the character is going to reappear in season one. At least that is what they are saying anyway, fingers crossed!
IFTN - So you have been over to LA and New York and you’ve been to Cannes. What was your highlight last year, apart from the IFTAs of course?
Simon Delaney - Well apart from kicking off the year with the shining light that was the IFTAs, I suppose doing the LA thing and doing Cannes. The Cannes Film Festival, that whole experience was kind of surreal. I have been to a lot of film festivals around the world but Cannes; it was just something special. The night your film is premiering, you get a police escort, a motorcade down to the theatre and you do what is called the montée les marches. It is very bizarre. One day I’m at home with my kids and two days later I’m standing on a red carpet with Sean Penn, Eve Hewson, George Harris and David Byrne from ‘Talking Heads’. Then we watched the movie that night, which blew me away. From there I went over to LA for a month and when I came back home, I was only home about a week and I ended up back in New York to shoot an episode of ‘The Good Wife’.
IFTN - You must be delighted with the response to ‘This Must Be The Place’?
Simon Delaney - It is amazing, Harvey Weinstein has just picked it up and it’s going to get full distribution across the States. We do have the best crews in this country and we have the best talent and there is no reason why more movies like that shouldn’t be made here. Thanks to the likes of Michael D. Higgins we do have the tax breaks here and the government have the foresight to leave those tax breaks in place. It’s attracting investors and I know people like Ed Guiney in Element Pictures are working day and night to attract people into the country. There is no reason why not. We have the best sets in the world, the best landscapes in the world, why can’t we make big budget movies like that here more often? It’s great that there is a bit of buzz about the movie for him and for Sean. I mean that all has to be good for the Irish film business.
IFTN - How was it shooting ‘The Good Wife’? How did it compare to working in Ireland?
It was quite different really. The basic difference was the scale of things. I mean ‘The Good Wife’ is shot like ‘Blue Bloods’ or ‘Boardwalk Empire’. They are all shot in New York and they are all shot in these really big sound stages out in Brooklyn. It used to be industrial wasteland and these investors went in and turned these old warehouses into studios. That is where they shoot all these shows. People think it’s a handy old gig for the actors but they start shooting in July and shoot right through until the first of May. They shoot 23 episodes in a season.
I have to say it was one of the happiest filming experiences I’ve had in a long time. It was nine days in New York; to me it is like my spiritual home. I love the city and to have a chance to film with Eddie Izzard. Eddie is such a hero of mine. So that episode screened then in the states in September, I got a call then from my agent to say that 21 million people had watched the episode; I couldn’t compute that. That was a big highlight of the year. I’m a fan of the show and that was a nice way to spend nine days. The level of professionalism was the same as we have here in Ireland. We have got some of the best crews in the world but the whole grandeur and the way you were treated and welcomed with open arms by the leading actors and actresses. It was a real kind of family atmosphere on the set.
IFTN - Do you go over and back then a lot to America?
Simon Delaney - It’s tricky now at the moment because baby number three is on the way here. I’ll probably miss pilot season and that kind of stuff but I’ll go over obviously if there is a job there. Between the IFTAs and I’m doing a few days on ‘Moone Boy’, the new Chris O’ Dowd show I have bits and bobs to be going on with here. Hopefully I’ll be back out there next summer because I have landed a part in a movie over there called ‘Living Impaired’ alongside Bo Bridges, Julia Ormond and Angela Kinsey.
IFTN - When you are in America, do you play up the Irish thing?
Simon Delaney - Ah Bejaysis! (Laughs) Ah listen, they love the Irish over there and it’s very strange. I have never been to LA for an extended period of time. I found LA hard to get used to it. It’s so big even in comparison to New York, it is incredible. In New York, when you are there and you have a week of meetings, you can walk everywhere but in LA you need a car. Also in LA there is no getting away from the business. In every coffee shop or bar, every conversation beside you or behind you is about scripts, money, actors, cast, producers or TV. In New York you can kind of dodge in and out of the business.
IFTN - We have to talk about the big event, you are back again to host the IFTAs. Last year did you feel the expectation and excitement building up as the Awards drew closer?
Absolutely. It was a really big job for me last year because what I had thought was if I don’t get up there to collect an Award, I’ll host it some day. I may rob one this year. (Laughs). There was real pressure on me because my peers were there, you know producers, directors and casting people and actors who I’d worked with and wanted to work with. So there was real pressure on; and the fact that it was live TV, which I hadn’t done before. I know what people are going to say to me; what are you going to do this time? What will be the opening number? So we’ll have to have our collective thinking caps on. We are going to have to try and pull something out of the bag, which no doubt we will.
IFTN - Do you get an adrenaline rush when you are on stage?
Simon Delaney - That is what drags us out to do theatre every night of the week. It’s like waiting for a flight or waiting for the doctor. It’s the waiting around that is the worst, once you hit the stage you are on. I was lucky enough that I had presented a documentary series for RTÉ called ‘Chain Reaction’, so I had done a lot of single camera stuff and delivering lines down the barrel of the lens, which is strange for an actor too because everything in your body is telling you to ignore the camera. The IFTAs were fine because I was in good hands. David Donaghy is a very experienced director, Tadhg and Ronnie the two stage managers, they looked after me. I couldn’t have made a balls of it if I tried… and I tried. (Laughs) Paddy Cullivan and I wrote the script so it was all very well rehearsed and polished and that’s what we have to do again this year. We have got to try and raise it again this year. So answers on a postcard please! (Laughs)
IFTN - Going back to last year, what was your most memorable IFTA moment?
Simon Delaney - That’s a good one. Meeting 007 was kind of special. In the little rehearsal before the show I was brought over to meet him. The director said to me ‘come over here and meet James Bond’ and of course I was dressed in a tracksuit for rehearsals. And then I was brought to meet Kim Catrall and again I’m dressed in a tracksuit. She said ‘thank you for dressing up for me’; I was mortified. (Laughs) I felt like saying give me an hour and I’ll be in tuxedo and I’ll be presentable. Meeting her, meeting Pierce and meeting Joely Richardson. To be standing up there introducing these people and they are all coming on giving you a big hug and a kiss. Ah it was great. I was walking on a cloud.
IFTN - For the people in the industry what kind of impact do the Awards have and what do you think makes the evening so special?
Simon Delaney - I think it is huge. I think when you have a ceremony like the IFTAs, it is such a great calling card that we can show to people around the world and say look who we have in the room, they are all Irish people, most of them are known internationally. We can be very proud of that. When you attend the ceremony as a nominee you are with the great and good, the best in your industry and you are up there with them. I think it is testament to what the IFTAs have become over the nine years, the fact that these people, not only do they want to be there but they want to win the IFTA. I know myself, having being nominated four times and never won; it is serious because it’s your peers. I think it’s always important at Award Ceremonies like this that they are voted for by your peers. They are people in the business, who you have worked with, who you want to work with, who are acknowledging your efforts over the past 12 months. I think that is what makes it, from an actor’s point of view, very special to attend something like the IFTAs. I know most of the people because I’ve worked across film and TV for fourteen years so that also adds a little bit of joy when I see people I know, friends, winning awards. It’s brilliant. It’s a big moment in their careers and then for me to be at the helm of it and presenting it; I’m very proud to be doing it. I am very proud to be associated with IFTA.
The 9th Annual Irish Film and Television Awards take place on 11th of February 2011 in the Convention Centre Dublin and will be broadcast live on RTÉ One at 9.30pm GMT.
For further information visit www.ifta.ie or follow IFTA on Facebook and Twitter