27 January 2023 The Irish Film & Television Network
Q&A with Roisin Murphy, Actress and Star of ‘What Richard Did’
14 May 2013 : Actress Roisin Murphy in conversation with Kevin Cronin.
Roisin Murphy, IFTA-nominated actress for ‘What Richard Did’
Roisin Murphy’s star-making performance in Lenny Abrahamson’s tragic masterpiece ‘What Richard Did’ earned her an IFTA nomination this year for Best Actress, marking a highpoint in a blossoming career very much on the ascendant.

As Richard’s girlfriend Lara Hogan she convincingly portrayed the emotion of a character trapped in an impossible situation following unexpected tragedy and held her own with Jack Reynor onscreen.

A promising actress since first attending the Gaiety School of Acting at the age of seven, Ms Murphy appeared in RTE’s Stardust and The Clinic over the years before winning international critical acclaim with her role in ‘What Richard Did’.

In an interview with IFTN, Ms Murphy discussed her approach to acting, plans for the future, and advice to up-and-coming actresses hoping to follow in her footsteps.

Ms Murphy, Can you tell us a bit about how you got your big break in ‘What Richard Did’?
My agent sent me in for the audition for ‘What Richard Did’ the October before we started filming. At the time there was no script and I had no idea what the film was about or the character of Lara. We just had some scenes to prepare and it was like any other audition really. I didn't hear anything after that for a few months until they called us in for a weekend of auditions and then we were cast. Over the next few months we were in and out for workshops and rehearsals right up until we started filming.

What did you find most challenging about taking on the role?
The most challenging thing about the role was probably the range of emotion throughout. Because the first half of the film was so different from the second part, there was a lot of growth in the characters. I think it can be very difficult to convincingly portray how much someone can change over a very short period of time and I really felt there was a lot of emphasis on that with Lara.

Did you receive formal training as an actress, and if so, where?
I had been aware from a very early age that I wanted to be an actress so I had attended acting classes in the Gaiety School of Acting from the age of 7 to 15. It was a great place for me at the time. All the tutors in there were so well trained themselves and really treated us like young professionals and gave us all the tools we needed for starting out as actors. After I left school I felt I just wanted to jump into a career as soon as possible so I decided against further training at that stage.

What do you enjoy most about being an actress?
I think the best part about being an actress for me is being able to jump outside of yourself for a while. To really be able to explore different characters and the lives different people lead. I feel like with every role you learn something new not only about the character but also about yourself. It can sometimes be challenging to find something within yourself to identify with the character but when you do it can be really exciting.

Can you describe your typical working day?
A typical working day would start about 6am depending on how far away from the set I am. When I arrive I'd usually grab a quick breakfast and then get into my costume. After that I head over to the hair and make-up truck. If you're in the first scene of the day the morning can be quite busy and I'd be on the set early enough. From then it’s just working away. If you're in every scene of the day I'd be on set the whole day otherwise there can be a lot of waiting around between scenes until you're needed again. We usually finish up around 7pm.

What actors/actresses are you most influenced by?
I really like Leonardo DiCaprio. I think he's probably one of the best actors around. He's been working for so long now and always takes on something new. I've never seen him play the same role twice and that is definitely something to aspire to. I'm sure I've also been influenced by my mam and sister in some ways. They are both actresses and watching their bravery and intensity over the years has definitely been encouraging.

How do you make yourself stand out from the crowd in auditions?
I don't think there is any sure-fire way to make yourself stand out in any situation. I feel at the end of the day it comes down to the type of person who is casting their film. They have to feel like they would be comfortable working with you and that your personalities will click. I think the most important thing to do is try your best to perform as well as you can and to really do the character justice as you see her. At the end of the day we're acting and you just have to act as well as you can in the audition room.

Is there anything you can reveal about your plans for the near future?
I've decided to take some time to study in the coming months. I've been accepted to the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York this summer. So I really just want to immerse myself in the method of acting and learn as much about what Stanislavski and Strasberg really had to say about modern acting and its technique. It’s only for a few months so I'll be able to get back working when I finish in September so it suits me really well.

What advice would you give to anyone wishing to become an actress?
I think you really have to be sure that acting is what you want to do with your life. It can be really hard at times, especially when you're not working. It’s not the most stable career you could go for. But that being said, when you're on stage or on set it can be such a great experience. I suppose you have to be ready for a lot of rejection and not to worry too much about it when it happens because it’s all part of it.

‘What Richard Did’ screened at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York; won the Golden Tulip international award for Best Film at the Istanbul Film Festival; and won five IFTA awards in the categories of Best Film; Best Director; Best Film Script; Best Actor; and Best Editing Film/Drama.

The film is now available on DVD and can be watched online at www.volta.ie

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