DDW talks to Irish actor, Laurence O’Fuarain about all the intricacies of introspection, hard work and of course, his top hat.
One could probably listen to Laurence O’Fuarain talk all day. Surprisingly enough, it has nothing to do with his mesmerising Irish accent – but his charisma. He’s awfully funny too, and accomplished, and handsome. The list goes on, but personal flattery aside, O’Fuarain is worthy of great professional credit too. Playing Hakon in Vikings, John Byrne in BBC’s Normal People or Desmond Byrne in RTE’s Rebellion (amongst others), the man is certainly not short on talent.
Laurence O’Fuarain’s 26th birthday card metaphorically came about with something along the lines of “congratulations, you’re going to be on Game of Thrones” written on it, which probably beats any other birthday present he’s ever received. Self described as his ‘fantasy baptism’, the Irish actor went on to take the role of Simpson, his first (but certainly not his last) within the realms of mystical kingdoms. Soon to feature on yet another, O’Fuarain is leading Blood Origin, prequel to the two season hit The Witcher, as well as also doing some thriller work with Lionsgate’s Creepers.
It must be quite surreal to battle monsters for a living, but its not like O’Fuarain hasn’t had his go at the more normal stuff like the rest of us mere mortals. Had you walked the cobbled streets of Dublin a few years back you would’ve found a suited-up O’Fuarain, wearing a top hat as the doorman of a known department store, for 8 hours straight, out in the cold. He did that for two years.
Said top hat came with him down to England when he scored the role of Fjall, and he tells me about it jokingly. “I knew it was gonna get tough,” he admits. “The top hat would actually speak to me in the apartment. I had it on top of the microwave, and the Top Hat would just go, no, don’t start pitching. No, no, no, you need to, you need to do the work. You wanna wear me again? If you wanna wear me again, okay. But no, if not, get into bed, go sleep and get back to work.”
I reckon we could all do with some top hat pep talk from time to time.
Embarrassingly enough, there’s two times during the interview that Laurence has to correct my pronunciation. The first is when I ask him to pronounce his surname for me. There’s something quite amusing about Irish names, and Laurence O’Fuarain happens to have one of the easier ones to pronounce.
Oh, and It’s oh-FIU-ran, in case you were wondering.
I come to realise he talks about his origins often, revealing he’s about to head off to an Irish wedding as soon as our chat is over. “Irish weddings are a two day affair. So I’m glad we’re not doing this interview on the Sunday.” he jokes.
On the topic of pints, that is precisely what Laurence would ring up his character on Blood Origin, Fjall (pronounced something like fyahl), up for. Describing him as a really good guy with a loyal heart and soul, Laurence talks about Fjall in a very relatable manner, even if he’s some elite warrior swinging a not-so-relatable axe for a living. “He is complicit within the society that he doesn’t really understand,” O’Fuarain tells me. “I think a lot of us kind of feel that, you know, we’re just going through the motions. It’s a nine to five, you know, we just wanna get it done”.
Strangely, ears is something else we end up discussing more than you’d expect. As it turns out, that was the first thing the actor’s co-star, Michelle Yeoh, asked about when she first met him. Funnily enough, super-hearing happens to be one of O’Fuarain’s Witcher abilities of choice, the other being strength and ability. “So I can get my, uh, my football career go” he jokes.
Despite its appearances, O’Fuarain is not all comic relief. We touch on the subject of hardships, to which Laurence shows some great degree of introspection and awareness. “I think the universe will talk to you all the time.” is how he puts it. He then tells me about some more challenging moments in life. “I beat myself up about not being where I wanted to be and I kind of left that consuming.”
I have noticed that the force of rejection is always quite present in an actor’s narrative, and O’Fuarain is no exception. He talks about the consistency of it, of having actors come in to talk about its hardships and Laurence not quite believing them. We all know the saying: realisation hits harder than a rock. “It was so true. I mean, some weeks you’d have no auditions and that’s stressful, and other weeks you’d have five and then get none of them.” Yet I’m left with the impression that Laurence O’Fuarain is impossibly optimistic – a fact which could have something to do with his practicing of yoga, or his passion for the gym. “I love the day you go where you don’t wanna go. Cause when you walk out there, you like a million, you’re like, yes.”
As our chat draws to an end, I’m left with the impression that I’ve just spoken to what seems like a truly genuine and hardworking man, not afraid to delve into the darker moments of life, but always with a great sense of humour.
What does he not want to die wondering about though?
What it is like to jump off a plane. He says this after admitting to having quite the fear of heights, and telling me all about how he had to get strapped to a rig in an arena somewhere in Bulgaria for the filming of Creepers. “I just don’t think we should be up that height as people, right? Ground’s where we need to be.”
Blood Origin premiers on the 25th of December, 2022 on Netflix.