Acting the part | 

Oscar nominee Ciarán Hinds says he never had a ‘masterplan’ for his acting career

The veteran actor is set to show his lighter side as the good-humoured dad in RTÉ’s new series The Dry

Ciarán Hinds Photo: Ifta Academy/Barry McCall

Scenes from RTE's new series The Dry

Sunday World

He’s ONE of our most-loved and respected actors, nabbing an Oscar nomination for his role in Kenneth Branagh’s moving drama Belfast.

Now Ciarán Hinds is returning to the small screen in The Dry,a dark comedy about an Irish family’s relationship with alcohol.

The series — described by one critic as “an Irish Fleabag” — stars Roisín Gallagher as Shiv, a thirty-something who is more than five months sober and moves back to Ireland from London. Trouble is, her family is pretty dysfunctional and many of those around her — including her mum and ex — have a grá for the booze.

Hinds shines as Shiv’s dad Tom, who has remained with her mother Bernie but is in an open relationship. “He does love them all. But they’re all quite challenging,” the actor tells Sunday World Magazine+.

“He’s a good-hearted man, just trying to make it all work.

"He’s been very, very supportive of Bernie all this time. And I think he’s just got to the age where he can’t do it anymore because it’s taking its own toll on him. He’s trying, as they’re coming towards the last chapters in life, still trying to be in life.”

Amusingly, the woman he’s having an affair with in the series, Mina, is played by his wife in real life, actress Hélène Patarot. The couple’s daughter, Aoife, has in recent years also taken up an acting career with high-profile shows including Normal People.

“She came to it late. She was studying International Relations.

"She did a degree in maths and then she went travelling a bit. Then she suddenly announced — and I had no idea that she had any interest in risking her life for this business — at the age of 23 that she wanted to have a go. So she went and did a postgrad course in theatre.

“I just worked with my daughter playing my daughter in a small film that was cast independently of me. And now in The Dry,I’m working with my wife,” he explains.

Though he grew up in a creative household, Hinds didn’t initially consider an acting career — primarily because he didn’t realise it could be a profession.

“My mother was a very good amateur actress. She stopped acting so much when we were kids, to bring up the family.

"She encouraged us in the arts through Irish dancing and poetry and drama so I guess somewhere it was always around me. But it wasn’t something I thought of seriously as a profession. I never had a great desire at the age of seven when somebody says, ‘I knew I was gonna be an actor’.

“I was just living life in Belfast growing up playing a lot of football, Gaelic and stuff like that. Then you went through A-levels and went to university. I realised I was no more fit for the Law Faculty in Queen’s University than anybody and I should perhaps take myself somewhere else.

Scenes from RTE's new series The Dry

“I transferred to study English and drama at university and somebody said, ‘Why don’t you apply for theatre school?’ There were none in Ireland in the ’70s, they didn’t have any, so I had to go. And I was very lucky — I got accepted,” he tells.

The 69-year-old has built a starry career in the years since, working with filmmakers like Steven Spielberg onMunich and TV smash Game of Thrones. But he says he never had a masterplan when it came to his acting career, opting to simply choose wisely and work with good people.

“I’ve never been, just by my nature, guided to a mission to achieve that and then achieve that. I’m more of a day-to-day person. And trust that by instinct, and by a little divination, that the people that you’re going to work with will be fun and creative.”

As well as The Dry and playing the sinister crime boss Eamon Cunningham in Kin, he will soon appear opposite Florence Pugh in The Wonder, a psychological thriller set in period Ireland. It’s been a pleasure working in the capital again, he says. “For some reason, even though my home isn’t in Dublin, I felt like I was coming home to work. I felt very at home here.”

The Dry starts on RTÉ One later this autumn.

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