Visual Tales: How did you get into acting and what is your favorite part about being an actor?
Fionn O'Shea: I started acting when I was 11 years old. I was completely obsessed with my older sister, who was going to a drama class, and anything she did I wanted to do too, so I joined. I think my parents probably saw it as an opportunity for me to annoy someone else for a few hours on the weekends! They would send all of the kids there to any open auditions that were happening around Dublin and two weeks later I went for my first audition. I had no idea what I was doing but somehow I was cast in a short film called ‘New Boy’ and I fell in love with performing. It’s really hard to pick one thing as being my favorite, and I hope this doesn’t sound twee, but I get to do what I love and what makes me happiest for a living and it’s not lost on me how special that is.
VT: Being born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, was the path to becoming an actor an easy one or challenging one?
FO: I’m not sure if it’s ever easy wherever you’re from and there were definitely a lot of challenges but I think something that’s really exciting too is that everyone’s story of how they became an actor is different and there’s no one way to do it. I’m so grateful to all of the people I worked with when I was growing up because they created such a safe and nurturing environment on set that it allowed me to have fun and fall in love with performing so I knew quite young that acting was all I ever wanted to do. The path maybe wasn’t easy but the decision was.
VT: For someone who is still quite early in their acting career, your acting resume is quite impressive, what do you look for in a given role that comes your way? Which of the films/characters you have the opportunity to act in, as an actor, you felt have given you the most satisfying feeling of fulfillment?
FO: I usually know straight away when I’m reading something whether or not it’s something I connect with or want to be a part of. I feel really lucky to have been able to tell stories and play characters that I’m passionate about and really care for so if I could keep doing that I’d be over the moon. It’s really hard to pick out specific characters because they can be fulfilling for lots of different reasons but I think playing ‘Eddie’ in ‘Dating Amber’, ’Jamie’ in ‘Normal People’, and ‘Ned’ in ‘Handsome Devil’ are a few that stick out as being really fulfilling but I feel bad about the ones I’m not mentioning because I really could list so many more projects I’ve had the chance to be a part of.
VT: Filmmakers that you hope to have the opportunity to collaborate with in the future?
FO: It’s really difficult to create a list because there are so many people I’d love to work with. The people that are popping into my head right now are Lynne Ramsey, Andrea Arnold, Greta Gerwig, Paul Thomas Anderson and Bo Burnham, and I know that’s probably more names than you were looking for! There are also filmmakers that I’ve been lucky enough to work with who I’d love to work with again.
VT: Some actors like to be directed, while others would like directors to let them improvise on set, if you can choose, which method of acting would you gravitate towards and why?
FO: I don’t think I could pick one or the other because it can change from project to project and then from scene to scene. I love being directed and I also love getting the chance to improvise, where appropriate. I think ‘Dating Amber’ and ‘Normal People’ are really good examples because Dave and Lenny would give such brilliant direction and then would also allow you the freedom to improvise. There was always a completely open dialogue and you felt really empowered and safe to try different things. No idea was a bad idea.
VT: What drawn you to want to take part in Wolf by Nathalie Biancheri’s movie about species dysphoria?
FO: As soon as I read Nathalie’s script I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I thought it was so brilliantly written and unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It was also a completely new challenge for me and different from anything I’d ever done which was really exciting.
VT: What was the audition process like for Wolf?
FO: It was actually a pretty normal process. I think a few people’s audition process’ involved a lot of movement but I taped, talked with Nathalie on zoom, and then the movement didn’t come in until after I was involved.
VT: How did you prepare your role as Rufus in Wolf?
FO: I play Rufus who is one of the patients at the clinic who believes he’s a German Shepherd in a human body. The prep was unlike anything I’d ever done before. We worked with an amazing movement coach Terry Notary who taught us all our individual movement. I met with Terry just before the first lockdown and then had lots of time to practice before we were able to shoot. We were really lucky that we had a long rehearsal period and Nathalie creates such an open and warm environment to try lots of different things, share ideas, and improvise, a lot of which made it into the film. You could tell right away how much everyone cared about helping to create Nathalie’s vision and there was such a lovely atmosphere for the whole shoot.
VT: What was the most challenging part about portraying German Shepard?
FO: I think it was probably the movement because we had some really long days of moving like our animals for the whole and it was definitely the most physical project I’ve been a part of. I found myself growing muscles in places I didn’t know I had them, which in my case in anywhere, and I think a few of us lost our voices from barking or howling etc.
VT: Your co-stars in the film, George MacKay, Lily-Rose Depp and Paddy Considine, all gave amazing performances in this film, what was it like to collaborate with them? Paddy Considine, in particular, gave a new meaning to the word “Authoritative”. What was it like to work with these actors?
FO: It was such a special shoot and everyone really poured their hearts and souls into the film. I was, and am, such a huge fan of George, Paddy and Lily so getting the chance to work together was amazing and they created, with Nathalie and the producers, the safe and open atmosphere that I was talking about which made you feel like you could try anything without feeling silly or self conscious. I feel really lucky to have worked with them and feel even luckier to call them my friends. I know I’m biased but they are all so incredible in the film and I had goosebumps watching it!!
VT: What are some of your upcoming projects we can look forward in, come 2022? If you could play any character from a movie, who would it be and why?
FO: I just finished shooting a series for Apple TV called ‘Masters Of The Air’ which I had so much fun shooting but I’m not sure if I can say anything else about it. The first character that comes to mind is ‘Truman’ from ‘The Truman Show’ or ‘Sonny’ from ‘Dog Day Afternoon’. They’re two of my favorite performances and films so I’m picking them but they’re also perfect in my eyes so I wouldn’t want to ruin them!
VT: Thanks for doing this shoot, which features all clothing from Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello, a brand that have been very supportive of you. How do you view the world of fashion? What is your personal style like?
FO: I’m really grateful to everyone at Saint Laurent for how kind and supportive they have been. My personal style is really similar to what I’m wearing for the shoot and what I’ve worn to the Saint Laurent shows before. Their clothes are so beautiful and I feel really lucky to be able to wear them. I love getting the chance to have fun with what I wear and experiment with different types of clothes. I find it really exciting getting the chance to see what makes me feel most like myself and confident regardless of whether something is traditionally more ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’.
Dog Star — the brightest star in the sky.