As he continues to dig himself into a hole, viewers can expect massive drama over the coming weeks
In real life Matthew has a country Meath accent compared to James’ smarmy urban accent.
“I’m from Slane originally,” he reveals. “I was playing around with the accent originally but I think James is a universal archetypal kind of person. I think we all know a James in our local village or city for that matter.
“People will come across them, someone who is quite narcissistic.”
Viewers have been on the edge of their seats watching his father Con and Damien Halpin being rescued from drowning by Carol Foley from a flooded pit the pair fell into a faulty building site James was responsible for.
James has been trying to cut corners on the building site, something which is mirrored in his personal life where he has played a ‘sugar daddy’ to younger women like Juliette and also tried to manipulate Jane.
“I think it’s an element of being able to control them,” explains Matthew when talking about James’s relationships with women.
“I think there’s that element of younger women who are attracted to the Machiavellian in personalities in bad boys, it’s an age old trait. The fella who is a bit of a wild lad and who has all the women. Then women inevitably grow up then and start to realise ‘this isn’t something I want to be involved in’
“The aim for Jane was that Cian told me in no uncertain terms that she was interested in money. This is one of the things we spoke about with James when he was going out with Juliette, on the sugarbaby dynamic, it’s a transactional dynamic.”
He adds: “Normal human relationships rely on people having a mutual understanding and kind of affection, whereas James I think sees them as movable commodities, ‘I can use money to buy this person’s affection for x amount of time’.”
Then there’s also James’ complex relationship with his father Con, whom he hoped would die in hospital so he could be left running his company.
“There’s a very complex relationship between James and his father and I based it, from my side. Was from Commodus and Marcus Aurelius. Commodus was the inept son but Marcus Aurelius was a noble leader. It’s part of the storyline of Gladiator,” he explains.
“If you were ask me I don’t think there’s any such thing as a good person. I think that we all have our flaws. Con is more straight laced and from the outside looking in I would say it’s only the good person. But I think you’ll notice a lot of the similarities like James didn’t lick them off the floor, they come from a dysfunctional relationship with his father. A good person as in straight down the line, but when it comes to being a father that’s questionable.”
He admits the storyline about the building shoebox apartments also reflects what’s happening in real life.
“It’s the whole idea of throw them up,” maintains Matthew. “This country suffered massively, right up to recently with the mica builds. Just get them up, we’ll deal with all the repercussions afterwards’. When they’re up there’s feck off you can do about them.
“The whole story with Damien was Damien came on with the idea that this was social housing, which of course is a very natural thing to be talking about. James just wanted to make as much money as possible and cut corners, made the apartments smaller. When Damien got fired it all went belly up.”
Matthew is unsure where of James’ ultimate fate.
“The writers have been very good. They are watching what’s unfold. It’s very hard to know. When it started, I thought ‘this guy is going to meet a grisly end fairly quickly’. But I’ve no clue,” he muses.
Matthew is a father of two young kids, Luna and Lucas, and his partner Lorna works as a massage therapist at a gym in Bettystown, Co Meath.
“I trained to be an English teacher in between gigs, acting is kind of volatile, so it’s always good to have something,” he explains.
“I suppose the acting translates well when you are trying to teach people language.
“I went to drama college in the University of Wales in Swansea, got my degree there and came back. Worked at odd jobs. Worked in theatre. I was in Conversation with friends lately. I did Penny Dreadful and Ripper Street.
“It’s crazy to think I was only four when Fair City began and I’ve been on and off I’m in Fair City about a year, when I was originally, I was introduced with the sugardaddy storyline.”