Pat can't hang up his hat
From major Hollywood movies to top TV shows, actor Patrick Bergin has done it all - and still is...
HE is now making an impact as a corrupt politician in RTÉ's new Sunday night TV comedy drama The South Westerlies, but Patrick Bergin will forever be remembered for his riveting portrayal of a terrifying and abusive husband alongside Julia Roberts in movie thriller Sleeping with the Enemy.
It turned the Irish actor from Dublin's Drimnagh into a Hollywood superstar and he earned a fortune in the films that followed.
Today, the towering, gregarious 69-year-old Bergin lives in an Irish castle at Cloughjordan on the border of Tipperary and Offaly, and is still in demand for movie and TV roles.
"I could actually retire, and in some ways I am actually retired, but the work keeps coming in and I do enjoy working," he tells the Sunday World.
His home, Emmel Castle, was bought with the proceeds of Sleeping With The Enemy "and a hundred other films."
"I was very lucky," he says. "If the film you're in makes a lot of money and, of course, Sleeping with the Enemy made a hundred million, your name goes up the list. The higher you go up the list the more money your films make.
"Luckily, I also came along at a time when they were developing cable TV where they promised the public a new film every week. So they had to make 50 films a year, and I got half them."
Bergin loves his life in the castle, although he also owns a home in the UK, which he hasn't been back to since the coronavirus lockdown.
Is the castle comfortable? "Oh, it's lovely, it's a very special atmosphere here," he says. "I've got 15 acres of woodland as well around me, and walled gardens."
As well as shooting new movies in recent years, he also starred as old school villain Aidan Maguire in BBC soap EastEnders, and in the Red Rock TV series.
"I did Red Rock mainly because it was shot around Drimnagh where I grew up," he reveals. "I knew Dolphin's Barn and all that area, so Red Rock was really coming home for me."
Despite achieving global success, Bergin still feels a close connection with Drimnagh. "One of my proudest things is a poster of local heroes up there on Errigal Road in Drimnagh," he says. "It has Eamon Coughlan, Colm Wilkinson and myself and a few others."
Patrick says it was his brother, Emmet, who inspired him as an actor. "He was out in the big world before I was, and I remember going to see him in Philadelphia Here I Come at the Abbey Theatre and that was huge. Our mother worked in there in the green room. Emmet is a brilliant actor and he's a great guy, he was always encouraging."
Emmet became a household name in Ireland playing hunky, womanising solicitor Dick Moran in the RTÉ soap Glenroe.
"We often laugh about all of that," Patrick says.
Away from the movie and TV sets, Patrick has a passion for singing and songwriting. One of his proudest moments was performing for Pope Francis at Croke Park two years ago. He sang the Leonard Cohen song, Anthem.
He struck up a friendship with Shane MacGowan while living in London.
"We used to hang out a lot in Camden Town," Patrick recalls. "I used to do a music gig on a Thursday night in a pub called The Sir Richard Steele and we'd all go down to a place called The Marathon. I got to know Shane very well."
Bizarrely, MacGowan at one point took Bergin aside and advised him to give up the drink for his own good.
"He said to me, 'Patrick I have to tell you, you're drinking too much. Give up the drink.'"
Patrick laughs heartily himself at the recollection "That was about 10 or 12 years ago," he continues. "I did eventually give it up and I haven't had a drink in about six years."
"Shane was right. I did have a problem. I was drinking too much. It was pretty obvious. It affects your concentration, it affects your looks, it affects your whole attitude to life. It's spiritually, physically and emotionally a very dangerous drug."
Patrick occasionally attends AA meetings, but says they have now been disrupted by Covid-19. "I hope people are not suffering as a result," he says.
The previously married Bergin found love again in recent years with Helen Goldin, the widow of celebrity hypnotist Paul Goldin.
"Helen is absolutely fantastic," he says.
What has she brought to your life?
"Fun…and a bit of discipline," Patrick responds with a laugh. "She's not only beautiful, but a fabulous person."
As for his new drama, The South Westerlies, where he plays local councillor Big Mike Kellegher, Patrick adds: "I think it's great. It's set in Cork, but we shot it in Wicklow and Wicklow looks great in it. I think everybody in it looks great, and dare I say it I don't look too bad myself.
"There's almost a soap feel to it, but because it has its contemporary issues (wind farms and climate change) it adds weight to it. It gives the comedy some seriousness."
• Patrick Bergin stars in The South Westerlies on RTÉ One tonight at 9.30pm.