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TOUGH GUY Renowned TV villain and Kin star Emmett Scanlan says he'd 'love to do a rom-com'

Following parts in The Fall and Peaky Blinders, doting dad and actor Emmett Scanlan is back in gritty new Irish crime drama, Kin, and he says viewers will Love, not Hate it

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Emmett stars as Jimmy Kinsella

Emmett stars as Jimmy Kinsella

Emmett stars as Jimmy Kinsella

Stephen Graham, Alexander Skarsgard, our own Emmett Scanlan - there are some TV villains that are a little too convincing for their own good.

So it's quite the relief, when just moments into our lunchtime Zoom call, Magazine+ establishes that the latter is either a really nice guy, a really, really good actor or, rarest of all in Hollywood, both.

Of course, "babysitting" an impossibly cute 13-month-old, as the multi-tasking star is on the video call, would make anyone seem like a big softie - but if it's a ploy to distract from his creepy roles as an adulterous professor in The Deceived, match-fixing gangster in Peaky Blinders and now a revenge-bent crook in Kin, then it's absolutely working.

"This is Ocean," introduces proud dad Emmett, from the Chester home he shares with his actress wife of six years, Claire Cooper. "He was a little lockdown baby. When we were shooting Kin, this little dude was about three months old."

The much-hyped gangland drama co-starring Aidan Gillen and Maria Doyle Kennedy, kicks off on RTÉ One tonight, and the Dublin actor, who plays Jimmy Kinsella, is confident viewers here will Love, not Hate, it.

"At the beginning of the series, he's collecting his younger brother, Michael, who's played by Charlie Cox, from prison," teases Emmett of his character's role in the opening episode.

"And Michael's introduction back into the family has a kind of domino effect on everyone and everything within the family. A loved one is gunned down and then the proverbial shit hits the fan."

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Emmett with baby boy Ocean-Torin.

Emmett with baby boy Ocean-Torin.

Emmett with baby boy Ocean-Torin.

As well as inviting obvious comparisons to the broadcaster's last gangland hit, by invoking the Kinahan name, the eight-part drama has invariably drawn parallels to real life, not least when Gardaí confused filming for the gritty series in Dublin last year for actual criminal activity.

All of that was white noise, says Emmett, when he picked up Peter McKenna's script.

"One of my favourite parts of the job is the beginning, where I'm reading scripts, because the TV series or the film that I see in my imagination when I'm reading the script is kind of what I sign up to in the first place," he explains.

"And Peter McKenna's writing is beautiful - it's layered, it's subtle. It's not just a gangland TV series, it's a family drama.

"I can understand the Love/Hate comparisons. Too many things are tailored to a mass audience, and if you try to please everybody you end up lobotomising stories, and losing everyone. When Love/Hate came out, it was unapologetic, it gave credit to the audience; it captured the nation's attention and it captured mine, certainly.

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"The similarities I think with Kin and Love/Hate is that Kin is set in Dublin against a criminal backdrop; it's unapologetic, it's visceral, but all that aside they're completely different. Kin is a family drama first and foremost - it's a very different type of beast."

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A shocking scene from Kin.

A shocking scene from Kin.

A shocking scene from Kin.

Working alongside the legendary Ciarán Hinds - who plays the head of the rival Cunningham drug cartel - sealed the deal for the 42-year-old, with the chance to spend five months at home in Ireland with his wife and newborn son an added bonus.

"We got an apartment on the Quays in October 2020," recalls Emmett, whose movie credits include Marvel blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy. "Luckily, for our own sanity, by sheer coincidence we had other actors that were in the exact same block as us, Sam (Keeley) and Charlie (Cox). Even during the height of the pandemic, where everything was shut and we couldn't travel far, we still had each other. It was like a big family.

"It was a very surreal time for everybody. Everybody was suffering and wading through this weird, unpredictable territory together. We got tested multiple times a week, we swam in the ocean for our own therapy, we trained, we fought, we shot the series - blessed to have had each other, and blessed to be working."

Privately, too, the dad-of-two is counting his blessings after welcoming baby Ocean-Torin, to give the tot his full name, after he and his wife suffered a devastating pregnancy loss in 2019.

"It was interesting having a lockdown baby," says Emmett, who also gushes about his 18-year-old daughter, Kayla, from a previous relationship, who is hoping to follow her father into the film business. "Claire's mum never even got to see her bump; she was like, 'Hey, mum, I'm pregnant', and the next time she saw her in the flesh was when Ocean-Torin was born.

"There are certain things that you take for granted, but when they're missing you just realise how important they are. We lost a baby the previous year, so when that happens we were quite nervous, and then obviously the environment was uncharted territory.

"But when he came along, by emergency C-section, and we could hear the cry, the doctor lifted him over the sheet much like f**king Simba in The Lion King, and we were just looking up at this absolutely beautiful son, Ocean-Torin.

"He's the happiest mother-f****r I've ever met in my life," beams the Clontarf native. "I laugh so much at his little sporadically spaced teeth and his numerous chins.

"The complete lack of ego is so gorgeous and refreshing, and the no judgement, and then moment to moment that they live in is ridiculously addictive. I always said when I became a dad I became a better actor, and I think that's true."

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Emmett with Clare Dunne, who plays wife Amanda in Kin.

Emmett with Clare Dunne, who plays wife Amanda in Kin.

Emmett with Clare Dunne, who plays wife Amanda in Kin.

Despite his open (and occasionally sweary) nature, 'I can't talk about it' is unsurprisingly still a recurring sound bite during the Zoom with the star, who also insists he's heard nothing about a possible fourth season of The Fall, which saw him play mustachioed detective, Glen Martin.

He can confirm he is set to appear in the upcoming British remake of Call My Agent, Netflix's French-language lockdown sensation, though naturally not as who - even after Magazine+ wagers that it's got to be Hicham, played by his French-Moroccan lookalike Assaad Bouab.

"Dominic West's in it, Helena Bonham Carter," deflects Emmett, who previously showed his lighter side in Sharon Horgan's Women on the Verge. "The scripts are fantastic, very funny. It's nice and therapeutic to be able to do some comedy every once in a while, peppered in between these hardcore roles such as Kin. I think I need that for my own sanity."

"I loved playing Jimmy," he continues of the show, which has already been snapped up by American streaming service AMC+.

"It wasn't an easy part to play. It was at times exhausting, where the heavy material alone from the scenes that you're shooting, they reverberate in your heart for days after and that's what was quite difficult, especially with the backdrop of the pandemic that it was happening in."

A palate-cleansing rom-com, next, Magazine+ suggests, feeling brave now.

"Ah man, I'd love to do a rom-com," laughs Emmett. "I don't know if I've got the face for romantics though. I definitely have the face for comedy!"

  • Kin starts on RTÉ One tonight at 9.30pm

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