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Jason O'Mara Chats with IFTN
13 Apr 2018 :
Jason O'Mara at IFTA for 'Siege of Jadotville'
IFTN caught up with Jason O'Mara to find out about his up and coming projects, what he really enjoys about working collaboratively, and who he would love to work with in Ireland.

Irish actor Jason O’Mara is based in US, and is best known for his work in the US television network dramas ‘Life On Mars’, ‘Terra Nova’, ‘Vegas’ and ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’.  He is the voice actor for DC Comics’ Bruce Wayne / Batman in the animated films ‘Son on Batman’, ‘Batman vs. Robin’, ‘Batman: Bad Blood’, and the ‘Justice League’ titles. 

O’Mara won the Irish Academy’s Best Actor in a Supporting Role Film, for his performance in Ritchie Smyth’s ‘Siege of Jadotville’ in 2017.

His up and coming projects include ‘The Man in the High Castle for Amazon, Hugh O’Conor’s ‘Metal heart’ (produced by Treasure), and season four of ‘Ballers’ for HBO.

IFTN: What are the best and worst aspects of your work?

Jason: “The best part is undoubtedly the people I get to work with. I love collaborating with others, whether it’s blocking a scene on set with the director and fellow actors or just sharing a scene with another actor when the cameras are rolling, the sense of creating something greater than the sum of it’s parts is thrilling to me and it’s where I find the most creative satisfaction. I would be more interested in the process of filmmaking than I would be in the end product.

“There are so many ways a project can be successful without necessarily being a box office hit or garnering critical acclaim. If I enjoyed the experience, if the role challenged me, if I made friends and felt a sense of accomplishment, that’s enough for me.

“The worst part is the travel. When you are young and starting out, the idea of going to different places in the world to do what you love and get paid for it sounds like a wonderful adventure, but strangely the novelty wears off quickly. And it’s not so much the travel, it’s going there, then staying there for weeks and sometimes months. You enter a kind of bubble, where all that exists is the place you are in and the work you are doing. While this can help focus the mind, real life goes on back home without you. There is always an intense decompression period coming back from jobs like that. Can’t say I enjoy that part of it either.”

IFTN: What career do you think you would have if you weren’t in the film/tv industry, and why?

Jason: “That’s easy, I would have kept doing theatre if I hadn’t been presented with opportunities in film/TV. I often think about doing more. Of course, in reality it’s not an either/or situation. The goal is to do a bit of everything and I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to do that. Less so recently. Theatre is a huge commitment, especially being a parent and now I’m based in LA, it would involve traveling/relocating as there’s not much theatre here. But I won’t stop trying. I recently saw my good pal (and top Irish actress) Justine Mitchell being brilliant in ‘Beginning’ on the West End. It got me excited about theatre again! 

“By the way, if you meant what career would I have if I wasn’t acting, I would still say theatre! Lighting design probably. I nearly got into that at one point and it still fascinates me.” 

IFTN: When did you last cry watching a film? (Or come close)

Jason: “I try not to watch films on the plane because it’s usually not how the filmmaker wants you to see them, but it’s 10 1/2 hours from LA to Dublin so there’s not much else to do! Anyway, I watched ‘A Ghost Story’ on a recent flight and by the end of it, I was pretty devastated. Especially when I realized we STILL had 8 1/2 hours left before landing in Dublin!”

IFTN: What Irish Actor/Director would you most like to work with, and why? (Living or Dead) 

Jason: “I’ve been trying to do something with John Butler for years now and for one reason or another it hasn’t happened. The only thing surprising about John’s success is that it has been relatively recent. Obviously, he has many creative gifts but his work ethic, ability to execute and his attention to story structure, dialogue and tone put him up there with the best Irish film writer-directors. Also, he’s very funny. And to fully answer the question, hopefully we’ll work on a film together while we are still living. The alternative wouldn’t be as much fun.” 

IFTN. Was there a particular scene or part you learnt by heart for auditions starting out?

Jason: “For film and television auditions I always try to have the scenes learned by heart. The people watching it want to see your eyes. Hard to do if you’re looking down at your script. I still dislike auditions, by the way. They’re a necessary evil.  I think it’s hard for creativity to thrive when it’s being judged.

“Anyway, something I did do early on before moving to London from Dublin, was to learn some Shakespearean monologues and soliloquies, just to have them up my sleeve. You know, handy for auditions and children’s parties (don’t kids love hearing about how your mother married your uncle before your dead father’s body was cold?). So one afternoon back in 1995, I invited some family friends round to my mum’s house for a cup of tea while I performed said speeches in the living room. These friends were gently encouraged to sponsor me, if they could, and they did. Having little money of my own, I heavily relied on their incredible generosity to emigrate with, covering my flight over and first month’s rent. I’ll be forever grateful to those who showed up that day for ‘Buns and Shakespeare’, as it was called. I’m not sure about the quality of the latter, but my mum baked the former and I remember them being absolutely delicious.” 

Jason O'Mara is on twitter here

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