19 April 2021 The Irish Film & Television Network
IFTN Talks with 'The Limit Of' Star Laurence O'Fuarain
05 Apr 2019 : Nathan Griffin
Laurence O'Fuarain in 'The Limit Of'.
IFTN caught up with actor Laurence O’Fuarain to find out more about his background in the industry, his work on ‘The Limit Of’ and what the Dublin-native has planned for the future.

A graduate of The Factory (now Bow Street) in 2014, Laurence has worked on a number of projects filmed in Ireland throughout his short career, including ‘Game of Thrones’, ‘Vikings’, ‘Rebellion’ and the IFTA award-winning soap ‘Red Rock’.  

Laurence shot ‘The Limit Of’ in 2015 after several months’ preparation with writer and director Alan Mulligan. Since shooting the film, he has earned parts in feature films such as David Gleeson’s ‘Don’t Go’, opposite Melissa George and Stephen Dorff and ‘Black ‘47’, the top-grossing Irish film of 2018.  

IFTN journalist Nathan Griffin spoke with O’Fuarain ahead of the nationwide release of ‘The Limit Of’ on April 5th

IFTN: You are a graduate of Bow Street (previously The Factory), how did you get started in the industry?

Laurence: “Yes, I was in The Factory. I would've been training with Seana (Kerslake) and Niamh Algar, who are doing amazing now. I suppose when I started, I was very, very new. I was studying advertising and marketing in Tallaght IT and I started making short films with the media students. I started training at night then with Terry McMahon, who does these acting classes in town. He put me through to Maureen (Hughes) who said, ‘Yes, you should come and do this course. It's for screen acting. It's for people like you that maybe wouldn't necessarily go to drama school.’ I auditioned, and I got in. I started training in The Factory.”

IFTN: What was it that inspired you to make that career change or decision?

Laurence: “I suppose I always wanted to be an actor ever since I was a little kid. My house would be a big Fair City house. Partially, because my uncle Paul played a character, called Harry Molloy, he was a mechanic in it and I used to watch him after school on the TV. He'd come into the house then and I’d be star-struck! I got the bug from that and I started training.”

“I did a couple of plays when I was a kid, but I just didn't think acting was a feasible thing to do. When I went to college, I quickly realized that I didn't want to have a career in advertising. I wanted to do something else; something I would enjoy. So when I got into The Factory, I just dropped out of college altogether. I then got myself an agent from my showcase and just took it from there really. My Irish agent has been a God-send. I really didn't have a clue and I was quite naive at the start. She’s just been really great at guiding me through the ups-and-downs.”

IFTN: Looking at your credits so far, you have an interesting rap sheet (Vikings, GoT, Into the Badlands, etc.). What was the first project you did coming out of The Factory?

Laurence: “I actually shot The Limit Of before I did anything else. I had no credits to my name, so that was a big opportunity. I had imposter’s syndrome through the whole lot of it, I suppose because you would. Alan assured me, he knew exactly what he wanted with this character. He knew how he wanted to sit, how to stand, which could be frustrating at times, but it was a little bit of a safety net as well. I could just give myself to the project.”

IFTN: Yourself and Alan Mulligan must have connected in the sense that you both started off doing something else, and then it was purely your love of film that pulled you in?

Laurence: “Yes exactly. I met him when I was studying at The Factory. We had chatted about a script that he had written, and he said, ‘Look, I’d love you to take a read of it’. I read it and I could just see that he was very passionate about what he wanted to do. The opportunity to take on a lead role… I didn’t know if I’d ever get an opportunity like this when I left, even if it was after ten years. I grabbed on with both hands and we worked at it. He prepped us and we shot over 17 days. It was a crazy shoot. We all worked mad hours, but it was really enjoyable.”

IFTN: You spent over nine months in pre-production with Alan and your co-star Sarah Carroll, going over the script and rehearsing. Did that intense preparation fill you with confidence going onto your first set?

Laurence: “The prep was crucial and especially coming from a place of no work behind me to back it up. Just to walk on set to try and get it done the way it should've been done would've been impossible. After the first initial couple of days, you kind of just settling in. I was finding my own way in the process. I kept a diary with me. I had all that stuff from my past that would connect me with the scene. I would use that before I would enter the scene with someone else. Then yes, I put a lot of trust in Alan and a lot of trust in the crew and the guys I was working with. We all became a little family.”

 “Once I got to know what James was all about and what was driving him, I was able to do any sort of scene. It didn't matter what it was, I would just stay in character for all of it. James is a calculator. He's a plotter, a planner. It was funny because he's very, very different to me. I found that a little bit strange, coming straight out of drama school and taking on a character that's completely the opposite of who you are. James is an introvert, I'm an extrovert. He doesn't say a lot, he walked differently. He spoke differently. It took me about two or three days to really get the rhythm of it, and then we just rolled.”

IFTN: From what I've seen or read before, you very much had the opportunity to collaborate on the character?

Laurence: “Yes, I suppose I had a say in a sense. We would collaborate a little bit. But I mean, when we got to set, it was very much a nailed down script. A lot of that was done in the rehearsal room with Sarah. We’d say like, ‘Well, what is the scene actually about? You need to say this, what does that mean?’ If it didn't mean anything or fed the story, then Alan would just drop it, which is great.”

“James at the very start didn't really say a lot anyway. There's a lot of what he was thinking. As a character, he was quite still. A lot of it was the attention in his eyes. I think that's probably why I got the role. He said, ‘You look like him’. So, I thought ‘Well, I'm halfway there, so that's all right!’”

IFTN: Your co-star, Sarah Carroll picked up an IFTA-nomination for her performance in the film. What was the experience like working with her on the project?

Laurence: “Sarah is great and she was phenomenal to work with. She had worked with Alan previously and had already established a good relationship. He asked me to have a look at a couple of his short films that he'd done, (and) I saw Sarah in one. We were looking for, obviously, the leading lady, so I said ‘what about Sarah’ and he said yes. We met her and we just hit it off instantly. She’s a talent. We had the craic on-set as well (considering) a lot of the stuff was a bit heavy.”

“So we just vibed off each other. It was a lot of rehearsal with Alan, a lot of prep. He knew exactly what he wanted and just needed us to bring it alive.”

IFTN: You mention that your television credits came afterward, what was the contrast like going from a small indie film like ‘The Limit Of’ to a massive international drama like ‘Game of Thrones’.

Laurence: “Game of Thrones was incredible. Our crew with The Limit Of was tiny; really small and intimate. We all got to know each other. When I walked on Game of Thrones, it was like going to Electric Picnic. It was that big. It was massive.”

“I'll give you a funny story. I was sitting in the lobby waiting to meet my dialect coach to go on set. She said she’d meet me at 7 AM. I was supposed to get collected about 7:30 AM, so we had half an hour. I'm sitting there waiting, waiting, waiting. I'm going over my lines ‘la la la la…’ just right at the front of this hotel—The Europa in Belfast. Next, of all, this massive, giant Night’s Watch guy walks up to me, head to toe in costume.”

“He says ‘Are you, Game of Thrones?’ I said ‘Yes.’ He says, ‘Right, come with me’. I thought to myself ‘They’re really getting me into character here.’ This is straight after The Limit Of so I wasn’t really (in much TV and film). He goes ‘Right, over there’. So, I'm getting on a bus, I'm looking around and thinking, ‘these guys don't look like cast members. Maybe they're crew, and I saw two little Japanese tourists behind me, two Germans, and then two Spanish.”

I put up my hand: ‘Is this bus for the cast?’; ‘no, no, no, this is a tour bus.’ I was about to go down and do a tour of the set when I was supposed to be in it!”

IFTN: Thank God, you would have never featured.

Laurence: “Thank God! They just had so many people, and then when it's your time to speak, it's like ‘wow…’ Everybody shuts up and that's pressure.”

“I also did two shows for RTÉ - Can't Cope, Won't Cope and Rebellion. We shot Rebellion in 2016, in the year of the Centenary. It was incredible. We all felt a sense of pride while making it. Can't Cope, Won't Cope with Seana (Kerslake). She was just incredible to work with as well. Major talent. You could tell just by working with her on that, and even when we were in The Factory, she was bursting (with talent).”

“Then there was Vikings, which is one of my favorite shows so far, just because I'm big on history. The attention to detail they have in that show is unbelievable. It's like walking into a Viking village: It smelled like seaweed and fish.”

IFTN: You have gotten such a great insight into a lot of different show dynamics. How would they all compare?

Laurence: “Yes. I mean, it's funny. They’re all very different and it does depend on the budget as well. I suppose Vikings for History Channel obviously, it's a massive set. They shot in Ardmore. Some of the sets were just incredible. The art department deserves every credit they can get because it's just magic what those guys do.”

“Game of Thrones, I mean that was just a machine. They were shooting in all different parts of Belfast. Can't Cope, Won't Cope and Rebellion were a little bit different. They wouldn't have the budget that those shows have but they were still unbelievable experiences and I'm proud to be in both. I also did a film called Viking Destiny, which was shot in Northern Ireland, which was also a great experience.”


IFTN: Another project due to release soon is David Gleeson’s ‘Don’t Go’, which saw you star beside Melissa George and Stephen Dorff. What was it like working alongside such established actors?

Laurence: “Working on ‘Don’t Go’ was such a great experience. David was also a writer/director and that always puts you at ease. It was produced by his partner Nathalie Lichtenthaeler and you couldn’t work with two nicer people. Working with Melissa and Stephen was incredible, they really are two actors on top of their craft. The way they conducted themselves on set was great to see. No ego, just passionate about the job and had time for every member of the cast and crew. This job is such a people business I feel that the only way you can climb the ladder is if you conduct yourself with respect and realise everyone is working extremely hard to do the very best they can to bring the project to life.”

“I love working with seasoned actors like that, because I use it as an opportunity to learn as much as I can and take it all onto the next project. Ammo to my Arsenal! We still keep in touch which is great. I told Melissa to tell Hollywood I’m coming...”
IFTN: What’s next on the schedule for you?

Laurence: “I’ve just shot a short film directed by a friend of mine Ger Duffy called ‘Void’ that was produced by The Edge that I’m really excited about.”

“I’m just back from London where I was recently cast in a romantic comedy alongside William Fichtner and Embeth Davidtz that’s shooting in Ireland for about 8 weeks, which is incredible. When I met them about the script they told me they weren’t looking for an Irish guy to play the lead, I think I may have said shooting a film in Ireland without casting anyone Irish is bad luck and no one likes bad luck! Anyway after a few Skype calls with the director I managed to secure the role. I think everyone appreciates a little bit of cheek.” 

“Also, I am developing a script with a good friend and amazing writer Ben Conway and its being produced by Tim Palmer, who also produced The Limit of. We’ve set it all on a bus from Dublin to Belfast, which was a challenge, but I really feel this script is magic and I’m about to do my best work on it.  I’ve a bit on my plate but sure we’re here for a good time not a long time! In for a penny!”

‘The Limit Of’ releases in Irish Cinemas on April 5th.

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