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slippery character Emmett J Scanlan speaks of bonding with his character's snakes in between shooting RTÉ's Kin

Scanlan also said he can relate to his character, whose son is killed, saying 'As a parent there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to protect mine'

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Emmett J. Scanlan said: "You can lobotomise or castrate the story to better serve a small minority’s sensibilities, but in the end all that does is censor art and that doesn’t serve anybody" (Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images)

Emmett J. Scanlan said: "You can lobotomise or castrate the story to better serve a small minority’s sensibilities, but in the end all that does is censor art and that doesn’t serve anybody" (Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images)

Emmett J. Scanlan said: "You can lobotomise or castrate the story to better serve a small minority’s sensibilities, but in the end all that does is censor art and that doesn’t serve anybody" (Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images)

Kin star Emmett J Scanlan has revealed how he got up close and personal with an array of snakes while shooting the new RTÉ crime series.

His character Jimmy Kinsella has a collection of large serpents in his basement and Emmett was so much fascinated by them that he used to hang out with them when not filming.

“There's a massive phobia of snakes,” observes Emmett (42). “I thought they were some of the most stunning creatures, I couldn’t get enough of them in between takes.

“I would find myself, obviously apart from beating Charlie Cox (Mikey) in pool, in the bottom, the underbelly of the Kinsella house, I’d watch them. I’d watch them watch me. Id hold them in my hand. The big one I had wrapped around my neck. Gorgeous things. I love the fact Jimmy has exotic snakes.”

Father-of-two Emmett also admits he would do everything to protect his young children and can see why Jimmy is so enraged over the killing of his teenage son Jamie.

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Charlie Cox (Mikey) and Emmett Scanlan (Jimmy) in Kin

Charlie Cox (Mikey) and Emmett Scanlan (Jimmy) in Kin

Charlie Cox (Mikey) and Emmett Scanlan (Jimmy) in Kin

“The thought of losing an innocent child for any parent will bring all to the forefront,” he points out. “As a parent there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to protect mine. Failing that there’s nothing I wouldn’t do get justice either, whatever I think that might be. “

Emmett, who hails from Clontarf, north Dublin and now lives in England with his actress wife Claire Cooper and their two kids, hits out at critics who say shows like Kin glamorise violence.

“You can’t tell a story about gangland drama without f**ing writing about gangland drama, warts and all,” he argues.

“My own personal belief is it doesn’t glamorise violence and that’s not its intention and if you watch a single frame of Kin you’d know that, its intention is to tell a story, hopefully a very entertaining thrilling story about family.

He stresses that Ireland is a nation or storytellers and it helps a series like Kin.

“That’s what this is, its eight hours of stories so hop on board or don’t,” he insists. “But it doesn’t glamorise. There is nothing about a woman losing her child, there’s nothing glamorous about a father losing his son. This show, its narrative isn’t motivated by let’s say greed or power or status of violence like maybe other shows of its ilk will be, which by the way is completely fine, there’s nothing wrong with that either.

“But since we are talking about Kin, it’s important to know its motivated by loss, grief, family, justice, compassion, loyalty. Whether you like it or not, pure unadulterated rage and revenge.

“You can. You can lobotomise or castrate the story to better serve a small minority’s sensibilities, but in the end all that does is censor art and that doesn’t serve anybody. “

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He and the cast worked tirelessly to bring the story of two feuding gangs to the screen.

“You have hundreds of men, boys and girls, from all walks of life during the height of the pandemic, grateful for work, who fought tirelessly to bring an entertaining story to the masses and then you have a very small minority having not seen one frame for their own frame of reference slagging it off, and I find that staggering and tragic,” he stresses.

“And if you have seen it, for the few who have, and still thinks it glamorises violence, then change the channel, it’s cool, no offence taken. Let’s just stop taking digs at each other, belittling each other, condescending each other. The world has enough of that already.”

Emmett moved back home last year with his family and stayed in an apartment for the filming.

He also got to become good friends with fellow cast members Sam Keeley (Eric), and Charlie Cox (Mikey), who is actually English and puts on an Irish accent.

“We were making Kin while shooting Kin and we really became a close family,” recalls Emmett. "Myself, Sam and Charlie lived in the same apartment block by sheer coincidence alone. So, we trained together, we swam together at Vico, or 40 Foot, or Sandymount, so it was a beautiful time.”

He jumped at the chance to play Jimmy having read the script.

“I think when I signed up to the show in the first place, which was 20/20, the height of the pandemic, I knew by reading the scripts and the audition scenes alone that it was something I had never seen before or read,” he explains.

“I loved how subtle it was and how different it was and how it wasn’t the usual. It was very unexpected. My favourite part of any job is, one is reading the scripts and the money or the TV series I see in my head is what I see in my head in the first place and when I was reading this and I was devouring the scripts in one sitting, I knew that it was special.

“I love Jimmy. I think he is a great character. At the same time as in Emmett I had great sympathy towards him and I would find myself, certainly at the beginning, trying to defend him in scenes, and trying to impose myself on the character and I just needed to learn. “

He also sees some traits of Jimmy in himself.

“I don’t think Jimmy is far removed from myself. I try to bring a very human element to Jimmy. I know what it’s like to be a father. I can’t imagine what it’s like to lose a son. I know what it’s like to be a husband, to be a brother, to be a family man. To have loyalty. These things I can relate to, these are parts of me that I can bring to any role. Essentially you are always bringing a part of yourself to it. The rest, I guess you just do as much homework as you can.

“I try and assume that whatever is important will stay and whatever I don’t know need will leave me and by the time I get on set, I have to trust the process.”

He also did a lot of background work on gangland crime here.

“I did research. I dint talk to anybody personally. Plus, you have to remember, when this happened. This happened in the height of the pandemic, when everywhere was shut down and nobody was meeting each or talking to each other or anything like that.

“That said you could always do a zoom, so I get that. From getting the job, to traveling with my family. My then three-month-old son and daughter on a ferry to Dublin to get an apartment. The speed of that was so quick. So, my bible so to speak was my laptop, was my phone, were the documentaries and the research I could possibly do on that. Any material I could get, on that, Guards and gangland and all that sort of stuff. That was what I ferociously devoured.”

He hopes viewers are enjoying it.

“I think what the world loves is good drama and good storytelling. I think once we got something like that. I know for me, people just love good drama. For me it’s a glimpse into a world I might not have privy to before. To me it’s a welcome distraction or an escapism. It either elevates a good day or makes better a bad day. I love to be entertained regardless of the genre.

“I think what people are interested in is good storytelling. We don’t have to pigeonhole genres, even though this is what Kin is. What Peter (McKenna) has created, what Bron (production company) has created, the show, we have created, the Irish have created, is a good story and I hope that’s what people see and I hope that’s what people see and I hope that’s what people feel.”

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