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Irish actor Peter O’Meara talks ‘Traders’: “I loved the chance to play someone who was menacing”
11 Mar 2016 : Seán Brosnan
Peter O’Meara in ‘Traders’
With ‘Traders’ in cinemas today, we talk to actor Peter O’Meara, who plays the menacing gardener Anthony in the Dublin-set film which sees Harry Fox (Killian Scott) become embroiled in a deadly online scheme where two people meet and fight to the death, with the winner burying the loser and walking away twice as rich.

As an Irish actor, O’Meara has taken the opposite route to most, making a name for himself in the UK and the US first before returning to Ireland. Lauded for his work on the London stage, O’Meara came to global attention on HBO’s mini-series ‘Band of Brothers’ in 2001.

He followed this up by garnering a popular following on USA TV series ‘Peacemakers’ opposite Tom Berenger. Appearances on big-budget US shows such as ‘Alias’, CSI NY’ and ‘Without A Trace’ followed before the Tipperary actor returned home in 2013 to play Andrew the dodgy dentist in RTÉ’s acclaimed multi-award winning series ‘Love/Hate’.

Was this a case of O’Meara actively looking for roles in Ireland or has his method of always following quality scripts just happened to lead him home in recent years?

“The quality has really sky-rocketed over here”, says O’Meara, who followed up his ‘Love/Hate’ role by portraying Brian Lenihan Sr in the mini-series ‘Charlie’, which aired to over one million people on RTÉ last year. “It is so incredible to be a part of it. I had left initially because I didn’t think there was really an industry over here and I wanted to learn about film and television after doing a lot of theatre.”

“But there is a certain algorithm to US shows”, continues O’Meara. “Most medical and cop shows run the same way. I think dealing with limited resources in Ireland has led to a lot of original stories. Returning for ‘Love/Hate’ filled me with joy as I was home, working among my own people and having fun. Aside from that, I was also really enjoying the end product too – it was real quality. I used to watch ‘Love/Hate’ and almost forget I was in it.”

‘Traders’, written and directed by Rachael Moriarty and Peter Murphy, sees Peter O’Meara trade the dentist’s coat for a gardener’s apron – but as the thesp is quick to point out – his character Anthony in ‘Traders’ is very different from Andrew the dentist.

“I loved the chance to play someone who was menacing – someone who seemed quite charming but who was actually very dangerous. Within an Irish context, I thought it was very different from anything I have ever done before. To play something radically different from what I have done before and show off different colours in my palette is very appealing.”

Writers/directors Rachael Moriarty and Peter Murphy – after making several acclaimed short films together – have graduated to feature films with ‘Traders’ with O’Meara stating that the cast and crew never got a sense that this was the duo’s debut.

“If this was their first feature film, you would never have known it. They were both fantastic and you can tell they have a great working relationship. One body, two heads. They speak pretty much as one voice. The cast and crew they assembled were fantastic too though. I think this film really cements Killian (Scott) as a star and John Bradley – doing something very different to ‘Game of Thrones – was great too.”

With Anthony one of the more complex and ambiguous characters in the feature – a very calm and easy-going demeanour hiding an extremely chequered past – what sort of notes was O’Meara given by the first-time directors?

“Their main notes was just to have fun with it really. There is a lot more to Anthony than meets the eye but at the start of the film, he is just a man having fun so I wanted to bring that across. They gave us all a lot of room to experiment and to improvise - not so much with the script but with the tone. Which was very refreshing as some projects can just be 'OK two takes done let's move on' so it was nice to try something different on this."

After over a decade of big-budget international shows (‘Band of Brothers’ had a reported budget of $125m) - how did O’Meara find returning home to work on a 22 day shoot in the freezing cold with only a fraction of the budget of what he was used to?

“I loved every minute of it!”, says O’Meara. “We made this on such a small budget and limited resources – on a prayer and a sandwich really. And I think it was a sandwich that we shared [laughs]. We were all in the trenches together and the mindset was just let’s get this done. And we had a lot of fun doing it. I remember having a moment in the film where it was so cold and I was lying on the floor waiting for a shot to set-up and I was just so happy. Here I am making this movie – we have no idea what this film will be like but we are getting it done.”

Next up for O’Meara is the Netflix drama ‘Frontier’, which will chronicle the North American fur trade of the 1800s. He is returning to Canada soon to finish shooting. He has also recently shot the feature film ‘Homecoming’ which also stars Irish actress Victoria Smurfit. With three praised and very different performances in Irish projects over the past three years, when is the next homecoming for O’Meara?

“Nothing happening at the minute but I would happily come home for Irish projects because there is some great stuff coming out of Ireland as the success of ‘Room’ and ‘Brooklyn’ proved. And of course ‘Traders’ too – I am so proud of doing this film. It is a very exciting time for the Irish industry and it’s great to be a part of it.”

‘Traders’ is in cinemas from today. Check out the trailer below:

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