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Gangster's paradise

Clare Dunne will make her TV debut tonight in RTÉ thriller, Kin and the Dubliner can't wait, she tells Deirdre Reynolds


Clare Dunne stars as money-laundering Amanda Kinsella in Kin

Clare Dunne stars as money-laundering Amanda Kinsella in Kin

Clare Dunne stars as money-laundering Amanda Kinsella in Kin

Most actors climb the ranks through television before getting their big break in film. In today's topsy-turvy world of entertainment, where TV shows are more like movies and movies premiere on TV, Clare Dunne already had a Sundance hit on her CV before landing the role of Amanda Kinsella in Kin.

The Herself writer and star makes her television debut opposite Emmett Scanlan as Jimmy's money-laundering wife tonight - and she didn't even know she was in contention for the role after her agent sent producers a link to the critically-acclaimed film as a "wild card".

"It was a bit of a process," admits Clare. "It wasn't as simple as an offer. But it was because they really wanted the right person for it, and they were kind of like, 'We think it's this girl that we don't even know'.

"In the TV world, people just want guaranteed serious viewership and they want names, and it's just very hard to make a break into it. It's a chicken and egg thing - you need a job to get into TV, but you need to get into TV to get the job."

Like her co-star, Clare says she was blown away by the scripts, after successfully securing the part of the car dealership boss following a nerve-racking Zoom audition.

"It's one of the first scripts in years where I sat down to read four episodes, which is a lot of reading, and I don't remember getting up again for a couple of hours.

"I think I got up at some point to pee, and that was it," laughs the Dubliner, who lives in the capital with her actor partner. "I was like, 'Holy crap, this is unbelievable!' Then when I found out who was in it, all my Christmases were coming at once.

"Amanda is quite stylish," adds Clare. "She's managing a car dealership that launders the money for the guys. But she had the potential to have been so much in life. She's really smart and sassy and she's got a great sense of humour and a wry wit that I think a lot of Irish girls will identify with."

Now good pals, Clare and Emmett first discussed their on-screen relationship while strolling around St Stephen's Green in locked-down Dublin last year.

And the stage-veteran-but-telly-newbie praised the Hollyoaks alumnus for later helping to put her at ease during the show's steamier moments: "He's such a gent. Me and him had such a laugh.

"I had to do a lot of firsts on this job," explains the 33 year-old, whose character also has a frisson with Jimmy's younger brother, Michael (Charlie Cox) in the drama.

"It was my first TV job, but there was also just lots of things that I'd never done before on screen, even like an intimate scene. It was just nice to have it so well directed with an intimacy director, and everybody on set was so respectful.

"It is such a different world now, but having somebody like Emmett with you as your husband actually even makes it fun and funny."

Sundance sensation Herself, co-written by Sharon Horgan, hit cinemas here on Friday after being delayed due to Covid. And Clare, who plays a domestic abuse survivor battling Ireland's broken housing system, confessed she was a bag of nerves despite its reception at the US film festival in 2019.

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"It's just going to be a relief to have it out," she laughs. "The Dublin premiere in March 2020 was the last big thing I attended. It was really successful and we were delighted, but of course, lockdown meant nothing was released in cinemas then.

"It's funny," continues Clare, next seen in upcoming Ridley Scott epic The Last Duel. "I thought by the time my film was coming out that maybe it would be out of fashion, but unfortunately, the housing crisis still rages on and I think the pandemic has highlighted for everybody how important it is to have a safe home and shelter.

"It's a tale of one woman doing it for herself, coming out of a very obviously difficult situation, but it's also just about people coming together and building something together, so I do hope people take some hope from it."

  • Kin starts on RTÉ One tonight at 9.30pm

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