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Pictiúir Paradiso: IFTA-winner Moe Dunford on the films that shaped him
04 Sep 2015 : Paul Byrne
‘Patrick’s Day’ and ‘Vikings’ actor Moe Dunford
It's been quite a year for Moe Dunford, the Irish actor recently picking up an Irish Film & Television Award for his lead performance in Terry McMahon's acclaimed ‘Patrick's Day’ whilst, on the small screen, the Dungarvan actor has been making waves as Aethelwulf in the acclaiming series ‘Vikings’. Throw in Rachael Moriarty and Peter Murphy's thriller ‘Traders’ and yep, it's been a very good year for Moe Dunford.

But, hey, what are the films that got the rising young Irish actor to this golden year?

Over to you, young Moe...

It was my father who got me into movies. Anything he'd watch I'd watch. Be it Lawrence of Arabia (the first movie he ever saw), or Ice Cold in Alex with John Mills (the first movie that ever made me want to drink), no matter how old I was or the age restriction of the film, we'd watch it together. I got to see some bloody great movies. Here's a random list of films that made an impression on me over the years, and a few memories.

Terminator 2 (1991)

I was six and in Killarney; we stayed over at my aunt's place on a family holiday, and there was a VHS recorder in the house! As we didn't have one at home, we went straight into town to rent a few flicks.

I'd never seen anything like T2 - Brad Friedel's theme tune, the chase scene through the storm drains, Linda Hamilton’s hard as nails Sarah Connor, and Robert Patrick's T1000 scared the absolute s**t out of me - after the holiday I'd copy his run in the schoolyard in senior infants all the time in an effort to make more friends. That didn't really work out...

After a battered Arnie saves the day and tells John that he has to self-destruct, I was in bits. That final thumbs up when he slowly goes under had me bawling at the end of the movie. My dad, figuring it was probably all a bit too much for a six year old, quickly ejected the tape and replaced it with a more child friendly film: Rambo.

What a weekend.

The Lion King (1994)

There's a lot of Disney classics to choose from. I'm picking this one because my aunt Ann took me to see it when it came out in the cinema. The animation was fantastic (the wildebeest stampede, in particular) as well as the voice acting. I went to see the stage show in London in 4th year too, and I named my dog Simba.

Partly because James Earl Jones played Mufasa, I wanted to lift Simba up high, do my best Darth Vader breathing and tell the dog "Simba, I am your Father".

The Indiana Jones Trilogy

The films I watched most in my childhood. I suppose what's still exciting watching them now is the stunts they pull off, especially the physical action Harrison Ford does, where he takes a beating and you believe he's actually hurt or not going to win. When the stakes are there, it's always fun to watch no matter at what age.

Into The West (1992)

All the stories about Fionn mac Cumhaill and the land of Tír na nÓg, my brother would have told me growing up, so watching this movie as a young fella from the countryside was like watching magic happen.

I loved all the gypsy folklore, the nature shots and the adventure these two kids go on. The film starts off grim, the boy’s father is living on welfare in tenement flats in Dublin and drinking heavily after the death of his wife - I'd never seen that side to Ireland before.

When the boys find the horse I wanted the two lads to ride down to Dungarvan for the craic and stay with me, whilst Grandpa Ward (David Kelly) and my grandfathers could all have a few whiskeys together.

The front cover of the video is genius, with the two cowboys Ossie and Tito on the horse jumping out of a wanted poster, like an Irish Back to The Future.

I never thought while watching it as a kid that I'd get to work with and become friends with the producer of it some day - the great Tim Palmer - and make another Irish film together, with Patrick's Day.

Star Wars (1977)

My brother brought back all three Star Wars one night, but I wasn't that much into it at first. It would have saved my mother a lot on action figures if it had stayed that way. I had to ask my brother what the word 'custodian' meant in the opening crawl. I wanted that silly posh talking golden robot to get run over while he was walking around the desert aimlessly.

But from the moment Alec Guinness takes off his hood as Obi- Wan and says "Hello, there", I was transported.

Then the guy that plays Indy shows up, and he has a walking dog as a friend. It then became my favourite movie ever, and the first VHS I bought. And I named my other dog Chewie.

Walkabout (1971)

My folks ran a pub in Cork for a few years in the mid '90s and late one night this obscure Australian film came on. Walkabout isn't the type of movie you'd imagine two nine year olds sitting through. But me and my mate Blake were glued to it.

I think it was because we knew this movie wasn't for children. That or we had taken so much Lucozade and Bacon Fries that sleep wasn't an option.

Dead Poets Society (1989)

I went to an all-boys Christian Brothers secondary school, where a lot of us were writing stuff down on our CAO forms without a clue of what we wanted to do. I got to go home every day and got see my family like most kids, so while it was a far cry from the elite private boarding school in Peter Weir's Dead Poets Society, all I had to do was look around in 5th and 6th year and see the similarities and the pressures a lot of the lads were under from home. You were either a GAA head or a whizzkid and sometimes both - just not someone with any notions of wanting to try out acting unless you wanted to be a laughing stock, or you had a teacher like Mr. Keating.

The movie really struck a chord with me at that time. Just like my two English teachers (Pat O'Halloran and Tony Lake), who have since passed on and who, in their own way, helped me decide that I wanted to give acting a go, Robin Williams will always be Mr. Keating, encouraging his class to not worry about what others expect from them and to "Seize the day" and live while you can.

American Beauty (1999)

It's one of those films I can watch loads of times and keep finding new things. That family dinner scene is always awkward as hell. Pass the man some asparagus.

Il Postino (1994)

The few good things I got out of secondary school was I got to watch loads of movies, especially in Anthony Kelly's class.

Il Postino is a story about Mario, a simple Italian postman in a small fishing village, who learns to love poetry while delivering mail to a famous poet, Pablo Neruda - and then he uses poetry to woo the local beauty, Beatrice Russo.

When Beatrice is played by such a fine thing as Maria Grazia, and there's a classroom full of horny young fellas huddled round a combi TV set gawking at her breasts and shouting "Go on Mario, Boy!", then just like the protagonist in the movie, I realised I needed to get out more.

Massimo Troisi, who played Mario died only 12 hours after the main filming had finished. He gives a fantastic performance.

On The Waterfront (1954)

One of a kind type of talent. And I love Karl Malden, who played Father Barry, also Mitch in Streetcar, and Brando's father in One-Eyed Jacks.

The Deer Hunter

I saw The Deer Hunter one night on Channel 4 with a bunch of ads, and despite the fact that it's over three hours long, it flew by.

We're given so much time with all the characters, as soon as the guys come in and play pool, and Andy Williams comes on the jukebox, I was hooked. I felt I got to know each of them so well. That's why it's one of my favourite films. All the way across the board a fantastic cast. It sets up things so well and gives little snippets of things to come during the party, like the drops of wine that spill, and the army guy they make a toast to.

I'd never sat through anything so intense, it's a devastating film.

Apocalypto (2006)

One of the most exciting films I've ever seen. It's a brilliantly filmed survival/chase movie about a man trying to make it back in time to save his family. I was on the edge of my seat for most of it. The scene where the hero is running away from his pursuers and tries to evade them by jumping off the edge of a waterfall I've seen in many movies, but none have done it as well as this one.

The Wrestler (2008)

This film floored me. Brave performances all round. Randy the Ram got the best entrance music ever in the end with Sweet Child O' Mine.

An Angel at My Table

With so many overblown CGI blockbusters out there right now they all start to look the same and have no feel to them. This is a story about Janet Frame from New Zealand, a shy, socially awkward writer with a big mop of red hair. It's so easy to relate and be empathetic to each of the three girls who play Janet, who is later institutionalised for years after a misdiagnosis. Kerry Fox is beautiful in the role, and your heart just goes out to her as the character. It's a special film people can watch and be genuinely comforted by in the end.

Song of The Sea

Saw this in a tent on the Isle of Wight recently. A bunch of us in camp chairs huddled round a laptop hooked up to portable speakers.

It reminded me of the first time I saw Into The West, there's stuff in here to love.

Along with about 40 other people Moe Dunford will sleep out in Corks Historic City Gaol to help raise vital funds for Focus Ireland services. To donate and be in with a chance to be an extra on the set with Moe as your guide, click here.




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