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thumbs up Smother star Conor Mullen says his U2 drummer cousin Larry Mullen 'did a great acting job'

The actor plays canny property developer Frank Ahern in the RTÉ series


Conor Mullen as Frank and Dean Fagan as Finn in Smother

Conor Mullen as Frank and Dean Fagan as Finn in Smother

Conor Mullen as Frank and Dean Fagan as Finn in Smother

SMOTHER actor Conor Mullen has given the thumbs up to his first cousin Larry Mullen’s debut film role.

The U2 drummer made his first and only screen appearance when he starred alongside the legendary Donald Sutherland in the 2011 crime thriller ‘The Man on the Train’.

But Dubliner Conor, who plays canny property developer Frank Ahern in the hit RTÉ series, chuckles when asked if he gave his famous cousin any acting tips for his role.

“First of all, I didn’t give him any tips - I wouldn’t presume,” he smiles.

“I thought he did a great job. It’s funny, because I see Larry – we live quite close to each other (in Sutton) – so during lockdown we were all in our 5k and 2k we’d bump into each other. We nearly saw more of each other then than we did before.

“So, he’s doing a lot of things as you can imagine. He has got a lot of different projects going on. I’m not sure what his next one is or might be or whether he’s going to do more or not, but I though he did a great job.”

Asked if Larry watches his own acting roles in shows he’s appeared in such as Smother, Kin, Raw and Red Rock, he replies: “Family are funny really. Like I suppose this time around with Smother, all my family got into it, my brothers and sisters so everybody was pinging on the WhatsApp.”

Another U2 acting connection is Bono’s daughter Eve Hewson, who has become an international star with roles in the likes of Behind Her Eyes, Robin Hood and Bridge of Spies.

“She is doing phenomenally well, she is fantastic,” raves Conor.

The 60-year-old father-of-four is also known for his soothing voice which has been used on commercials and on the likes of the ‘Speaking Clock’ and answer machines on the old Eircom phones.

“Sometimes people do recognise my voice, such as customer care,” he confirms. “It has happened a couple of times. Some of the people know my name.”

Frank is shacked up with Alanna in Smother and the actress who plays her, Hilary Rose, is well known to TV viewers of Young Offenders as Conor’s bedraggled mother Mairead.

But Hilary is not giving the game away when asked if there will be another series of the Cork based comedy.

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“I couldn’t say, who knows,” she teases.

Conor does though reveal that season three of Smother has been given the green light.


Hilary Rose as Alanna in Smother

Hilary Rose as Alanna in Smother

Hilary Rose as Alanna in Smother

“We are going to go ahead I think with season three, so we are all getting ready to head back down – those who survive,” he winks. “So, I think there is going to be season three.”

Given the first two series were filmed in Lahinch during restrictions he’s hopeful the cast can let their hair down a bit more during their downtime and get to break out of their bubbles and mix with each other.

“Hopefully we will get a chance,” he admits. “It’s a beautiful place to film regardless but it would be even nicer to go to a nice restaurant and have a few pints.”

Hilary is an avid sea swimmer and was thrilled when she learned the series was being filmed in the scenic Co Clare town and its environs as Lahinch is famous for its watersports.

“I have always been into it, I’ve always loved being in the water,” she points out. “ I used to surf in Lahinch a long long time ago and so I kind of knew the water and the area, so I love sea swimming. So, anything to do with the water I love it.”

She is a mother of two young children and runs a nature and wellness blog.

“I think it’s something that I have been doing for years really but it really came into focus in lockdown when let’s call a spade a spade, we all had a bit more time on our hands,” she explains. “ So, like it’s something I do all the time. It involves obviously the sea swimming and being out in the woods and nature and I do a lot of barefoot walking and I just love it

“I try to get them out as much as possible. It’s great because the two of them are kind of nature buffs as well, we go walking in the woods and point out what’s edible and what’s not edible. They really really love that

“We have got chickens and they know where their food is coming from. So, I think it’s really important for them to really reconnect and ground themselves and it kind of gives them coping mechanisms and coping for when they are older and they really need to feel that they need to reconnect for themselves.”

Frank’s character came to life in season two, replacing his slain brother Denis as the patriarch of the family.

“Frank literally didn’t exist while Denis was alive, he was always in the shadows,” notes Conor. “ So, Frank didn’t have a life. He had given up so much. His own marriage had broken up. He had kind of dedicated his life to Denis’s family.

“So, in season two Frank has his own life and has his own ambitions and his own dramas so it’s a little bit of a rebirth with him.”

Viewers last week saw once best friends Alanna and Val tense up with each other when Alanna told Val’s three daughters that their mother knew all the time about Denis’s secret son Finn.

It followed Frank’s discovery that Alanna had been digging up dirt on Val when he saw her delving into family secrets on her computer.

“I think there’s a real deep hurt between herself and Val,” Hilary acknowledges. “They had a very strong friendship which was referenced in season one and season two and that friendship crumbled when obviously Alannah had an affair with her husband and she found out about it. So, there is a very deep hurt going on between the two of them

“But also like Alanna was very close to the girls. It’s kind of referenced like she couldn’t have kids of her own. So, she was very involved with the family even prior to having that affair, particularly with Grace, she was very close to Grace.

“When the affair came out between them Val really made it her business to remove Alanna from the family, as she should have done. But it’s a small town, its set in a small where they are essentially on top of each other, they can’t get away from each other.

“So I think Alanna is trying to make the most of living in that space and thinking, ‘well OK I did have a friend, I lost a friend, I lost the girls who lost their husband', she kind of lost everything essentially. So, she tries to get back into the family, but also still bears that grudge to Val because Val I think told Alanna’s husband about the affair and that broke up their marriage. It was just a trail of destruction that happened between the two of them, so it’s just about trying to mend that somewhat.”

Smother season finale airs tonight on RTÉ 1 at 9.30pm

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