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California dreamin' Fair City's Victor Burke on life in sunny Malibu and what the future has in store

"You'd see an awful lot of people around," reveals Victor. "Danny DeVito is down here. Dustin Hoffman. Lady Gaga. They all live around here, but you wouldn't see a lot of them a lot of the time"

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Victor Burke. Photo: Mitch Stone

Victor Burke. Photo: Mitch Stone

Victor Burke. Photo: Mitch Stone

Taking a stroll hand-in-hand along a sun-kissed beach in Malibu is actor Victor Burke and his lovely wife Fiona, who lap up the sunshine after taking a hike through the nearby scenic hills with their lively Labrador, Callie.

The couple and their two beautiful teenage children, Cameron and Isabella, live in a detached house within walking distance of the golden sands in this heavenly hideaway, where they enjoy leisurely lunches and spot celebs in restaurants nearby.

"You'd see an awful lot of people around," reveals Victor. "Danny DeVito is down here. Dustin Hoffman. Lady Gaga. They all live around here, but you wouldn't see a lot of them a lot of the time.

"I was sitting beside Dustin Hoffman again on Saturday. A few days before that I was sitting with Alec Baldwin and a guy from Rage Against the Machine, and a drummer from another huge band. They are all around.

"It's funny, I was playing football with Jonathan Rhys Meyers the other week. There are a lot of guys and people around.

"My daughter plays football with Julia Roberts' kids. You'd see people, you'd chat and say hello. But it's like if you were in Dalkey or somewhere like that you might see people around, it doesn't mean you're best mates or anything."

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HAPPY FAMILY: Victor with Fiona

HAPPY FAMILY: Victor with Fiona

HAPPY FAMILY: Victor with Fiona

It's all a far cry from goofy Wayne Molloy getting his hands dirty in his garage amid the rain-sodden streets of dreary Carrigstown in north Dublin.

California dreamin' may be pie in the sky for the average Irish person stuck in lockdown, but for Victor it's a reality in this millionaire's playground of Malibu and one he's richly earned.

The affable and well-spoken Dubliner is keen not to come across too showy or boastful of his lifestyle, and it should be emphasised that Victor has not found a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow through acting, but more so perhaps through his business prowess.

The 47-year-old first ventured to Los Angeles in his late 20s when he tried to make it in the acting business in Hollywood, having first joined Fair City in 1997.

"I was coming back and forth looking for acting work, like most actors," he explains. "We came out here looking for the break and then the wife fell in love with the place we are living in. I used to play football out there. That was it, the dream of living here. The kids going to school, the beach, the fantasy - far away hills are always greener right?"

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They now live in Malibu, which is an idyllic well-to-do beach city near Los Angeles.

"It's actually not a big area," he says. "There's only 13,000 people in it. It's 21 miles long, so it's kind of stretched out. It's a very unique place. I love walking the dog there."

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LIFE’S A BEACH: Victor Burke outside his home. Photo: Mitch Stone

LIFE’S A BEACH: Victor Burke outside his home. Photo: Mitch Stone

LIFE’S A BEACH: Victor Burke outside his home. Photo: Mitch Stone

He laughs when asked if he's a millionaire, given Malibu is synonymous with being a haunt of the rich and famous.

"No - I wish I was! I do have a few different things that I do, which some people know and some people don't, different businesses and stuff that I've had to do. Because if I'm not working as an actor, I can't sit around, so I started different things."

His business interests are varied and multifaceted. One of his big cash cows was a signage company he helped start up 17 years ago.

"We do digital signages for the airports, banks, SuperValus and Centras. Wherever you see screens it's probably us," he beams. "There's about a dozen people now in town [Dublin] working on it."

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Victor as Carrigstown resident Wayne Molloy in Fair City

Victor as Carrigstown resident Wayne Molloy in Fair City

Victor as Carrigstown resident Wayne Molloy in Fair City

Another venture is Wilde Irish gin, which he has just managed to secure the rights to sell in America. Then there's his most recent project, dosen.io, which he set up with fellow LA-based Irishman Ronan Wall.

"It helps people to connect with people of knowledge," he explains. "So if you wanted to talk to somebody who's an expert in whatever field, if they are on Dosen, you can connect with them.

"You set up a time and speak to them through a video platform. So for actors it's great, all the actors, casting directors are signed up to it and it's just launched."

Victor's wife Fiona, who is from Templeogue, is chief of staff for a Malibu-based company, which creates content for pharmaceutical companies.

Their son Cameron (18) is in his last year in high school and wants to study finance. "He love athletics and 400 metres and sprinting is his thing. I don't know where he gets it from," smiles the dad-of-two.

Isabella is 15 and is creative. "She might end up doing law," he reckons. "She is thinking of becoming a director. She loves art, too."

The family had been living in Dublin until several years ago and the kids had been going to an Irish-speaking school, like Inchicore-raised Victor did when he was younger.

"I will give you a laugh," he pipes up. "My wife was in a doctor's office and she was giving out to my daughter in Irish, because my wife would have pidgin Irish. A woman sitting across from her said in Irish, 'Oh my God, are you guys from Ireland?'

"She was from Meath and she spoke to them in Irish. There's very few Irish where we are. We can have a good argument in Irish if we need it."

But the family's blissful lifestyle was upended in November 2018 when devastating wildfires destroyed nearly all the houses in their area and they literally had to flee for their lives.

"Two of our neighbours, a mother and son, perished," he tells. "She was 80 and he was 60. They drove the wrong way and unfortunately got caught up in it.

"I think we were the only house that I know of that caught fire that was put out. Even though it destroyed the house, and everything in it, most of the structure survived. The helicopters put water on it, the firemen pulled the ceilings, we were blessed in that sense because it's very hard to find somewhere here."

The family had to live in a hotel for several months while their home was being rebuilt.

"We were blessed to get anywhere to be honest, because there was a quarter of a million people displaced. It's hard to grasp the size when you are in Ireland," he points out.

"I couldn't believe it. Massive fires, you have no idea. I'm actually looking at the mountains that it came over now. Everything was gone, everything. We had to start again, we lost an awful lot of stuff. You are always underinsured in life. Who expects wildfires?"

Victor has not been in Dublin since March of last year since the pandemic first hit, when he had to go back to his family and home in California.

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Victor with his family

Victor with his family

Victor with his family

His Fair City alter ego Wayne is currently holed up in Germany, having suffered a broken leg in an accident and gets to regularly talk to his wife Orla on Zoom calls.

"I'm not sure how Wayne ended up out there," he shrugs. "I think he was chasing a deal and then his accident happened. At the end of the summer his storyline is due back, we will play it by ear.

"I hope he survives and doesn't get Covid. It's great to work in RTÉ and fly home to film my part and see my mam. I'm itching to see them all."

TV viewers also got to see Victor recently as an 11-year-old grilling Jack Charlton in the critically-acclaimed documentary Finding Jack Charlton.

"That thing got the biggest bloody reaction," he exclaims. "I have people messaging me from all over the world - it was crazy."

Meanwhile, he can't wait to get home to Ireland again to his mum Eleanor, brother and two sisters and the rest of his family, friends and cast members.

"I love doing Fair City, I genuinely do," he enthuses. "For better or worse, it has stuck with me for 25 years.

"We are blessed. It's great to have the sun most of the time.

"It's lovely to go for a walk on the beach or up into the mountains.

"We work really hard to try and keep it. I never stop working and neither does my wife to keep this life and it isn't easy but we love it."

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