Jane McGrath - lead actress in Johnny Gogan’s racing car thriller ‘Black Ice’ - is about to hit Irish screens with the film’s cinema release on 20th September and upcoming roles in ‘Quirke’, ‘Amber’ and ‘Game of Thrones’ season four.
A graduate of the Gaiety School of Acting, Ms McGrath has also appeared in such TV productions as RTÉ’s ‘Pure Mule’ and ‘The Clinic’, and several theatre and short film roles.
Speaking to IFTN this week, Ms McGrath discussed what first drew her to ‘Black Ice’, her experience working alongside Love/Hate’s Killian Scott, and what life is like beyond the Wall in Northern Ireland.
Ms McGrath, your character Alice carries the film on her shoulders in what must have been a challenging part to perform. What first attracted you to the project? It was great auditioning! Usually you get the full script but I actually only got one tiny scene, so I wasn’t too sure what was happening but was completely engaged when I read it. The scene was myself and my brother, Tom, sitting in the car and we’re talking about Jimmy Devlin, Killian Scott’s character. I loved the way my character Alice was always in the driver seat and in control. She was never one to get driven around by guys. But then when she meets Jimmy, he’s the one in the driver seat. She becomes fascinated by him and there’s not too much given away about his character, which is nice. You see it through her eyes and become very curious about what will happen between the two of them.
How emotionally demanding was the role in terms of what your character goes through and her reaction to tragedy? Before we shot the scene with the car crash, I decided maybe it would be best not to be around the actor who dies onscreen that day. But we were hanging around for a few hours on set and everyone was playing football, so I thought I’d join in and it actually helped me a lot more for the scene. One minute he was there, playing football with me, and the next I see saw him completely covered in blood. And it made the impact of the scene much stronger. Actors often feel they should go off and be on their own to get in the zone for a big scene, but sometimes when something catches you off-guard it’s more shocking and feels more real.
What was Johnny Gogan like to work with as a director and Killian Scott as your love interest in the film? Johnny was so lovely to work with and so approachable. We got to meet up beforehand quite a bit, which I think is very important - just to be on the same wavelength and not to be afraid to ask questions. Killian is definitely completely different from Tommy in ‘Love/Hate’. He’s so genuine, talkative, polite, very intelligent, lovely to work with and a very giving actor.
How did you find filming the car chase scenes and what was it like becoming immersed in that culture? The scenes in the car were a rush and it was just such an amazing feeling! During the rally scene, we had a navigator on set and I got to chat with him about shorthand pace-notes, which was great.
What can you tell us about your parts in ‘Quirke’ and ‘Amber’, which are both coming up in RTÉ’s Autumn schedule? In ‘Quirke’, I played a young girl called Maisie, who was working in the laundries and heavily pregnant. I had a scene with Gabriel Byrne - behind bars, actually, so I wasn’t that close to him - but it was a lovely experience. In ‘Amber’, it was a small part. They find my body and think that I’m Amber, the missing girl, but I’m actually not.
Do you have any other upcoming roles you can tell us about? At the moment, I’m up and down to Belfast on ‘Game of Thrones’. I’m not even allowed to talk to my friends about it and can’t be giving anything away! My character is beyond the Wall and it was stunning. When you’re on set you feel like you’re actually there. It’s incredible!
Are you a Wildling? Yes, I’m a Wildling!
‘Black Ice’, a Bandit and Still Films co-production, is released in Irish cinemas next Friday 20th September and the trailer can be seen below: