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Neigh to go Fair City villain Will Casey played boy with horse in lift in The Commitments

John was aged just 12 when he shot the hilarious scene back in 1990, when Robert Arkins' character Jimmy Rabbitte was startled to see the youngster leading the horse into a lift.

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John Cronin as a child

John Cronin as a child

John Cronin as a child

HE may be the most hated man on Irish TV but Fair City's John Cronin has revealed how his first onscreen role as a young boy endeared him to millions around the world.

That's because the actor who plays devious Will Casey in the hit soap was the young lad who famously brought a horse into the lift in one of the opening scenes of legendary movie The Commitments.

John was aged just 12 when he shot the hilarious scene back in 1990, when Robert Arkins' character Jimmy Rabbitte was startled to see the youngster leading the horse into a lift.

'Hey, you're not taking that into the lift?" asks an astonished Jimmy Rabbitte, to which the boy replies: "I have to, the stairs would kill him!"

Today, John chuckles at his first role on camera and he recently re-watched the movie, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this month since it was first released.

"I was about 12 when I filmed that and when you're 12, I didn't know when I did that part it would be so big," he tells the Sunday World. "I spent a day filming in Ballymun and I'm in the scene with the horse.

"I had no idea it would become such a huge hit and get all the attention it did. All I remember was being with the horse and talking to Robert Arkins at the time, and Alan Parker telling me to do this and that. I watched the film again during lockdown.

"It's kind of a famous scene. I'm very proud of it now retrospectively and it's funny seeing me so young back then. "

John has played Will in the RTÉ show for the past three-and-a-half years.

Fans have seen his character beat up his partner Cristiano and get away with the assault when he lied on the stand during his trial.

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Will Casey

Will Casey

Will Casey

The nurse has also lately pretended to have been beaten up so he can stay in Bosco's house, as well as lie about giving Erica a wrong prescription which could have seriously injured her.

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His own daughter Phoebe won't speak to him anymore after finding out about his deception, while his estranged wife Máiréad has also seen through him.

But John is finding his role has met with mostly good humour on the street.

"It's been pretty positive," he confirms.

"People are enjoying the show and are just excited to meet somebody from the show. They know Will's not a real character You might get people saying 'you're a right b***ks' or whatever. But it's always good humour. It would be slagging Will, but having craic with me.

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Will beat Cristiano

Will beat Cristiano

Will beat Cristiano

"Funny enough, even when I'm in shops, masks don't always stop people from recognising me. I don't know what it is, maybe it's Will's evil eyes."

Some viewers have noted that Will and other characters do not wear masks in the likes of Phelan's shop or for some indoor scenes, when in fact in real life it's against the law and can incur a €80 fine.

"It is dramatic licence," John, who is originally from Churchtown, south Dublin, points out. "We are obeying all the protocols. If I'm in a scene with somebody, we keep a two-metre distance.

"There are things you can do with the cameras to disguise that and maybe look like you're close together. We are also sanitising our hands beforehand, and we wear masks all the time when we are not in the scenes."

The soap's writers liaised with groups who deal with domestic violence for Will and Cristiano's dramatic scenes.

Despite his looking like Will might end up having a bad end, John stresses Will is pretty much a survivor.

"Will has had a bit of a crazy journey, but he's clever enough to just about keep disaster at bay, such as he did at the trial," he notes.

"But there's so many lies and always too many directions, so it will be interesting to see if he meets with a bad end with a downward spiral. But he is pretty much resourceful."

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