Kieran O’Reilly - Former Echo seller opens up about his career and boxing

By Hayden Moore

You may know him from his breakout role in the hit show Love/Hate as Detective Ciaran, but Kieran O’Reilly has kept busy over the last few years as the lead singer in his band ‘Hail the Ghost’, acting, and now writing, with his new film ‘For Molly’ recently hitting Irish cinema screens.

Kieran, has lived in Tallaght all his life growing up in Kilnamanagh and Kingswood and actually served as a door-to-door seller of The Echo Newspaper when he was 14-years-old.

KieranOReilly HR 001

Kieran O’Reilly

Now 39, Kieran caught up with The Echo to tell us about boxing under Mick Dowling, his film ‘For Molly’, and how he balances the work load.

Acting in ‘For Molly’ as a man battling cancer must have been exhausting?

The writing was tough and the research into finding an authentic journey was tough because it did bring me to these kinds of dark places that dealt with your mortality and all these other things.

That research built me up over seven months for the role and gave me the conditioning to play this character. So, I didn’t arrive cold to the set and it was very emotionally draining.

I didn’t realise until afterwards because it took me awhile to come out of that role after we wrapped filming, and I suppose the stress of the production itself added to my role.

When I watched the trailer, I felt like I was actually watching a documentary and not a film. Was that the idea?

I was actually stopped in town and asked if I was sick by somebody who had seen the film in Swords cinema and I had to tell him that I was just playing a role.

Everyone wants to be real and come across as authentic so that’s like the greatest compliment an actor can get.

We wanted ‘For Molly’ to be a life-like documentation of this fella so I’m glad people think that it’s real because it is an area that should be talked about.

You wrote ‘For Molly’, why was writing the next step in your career?

This is the first thing that I have written that was produced but I started writing in 2013 after I picked up the Love/Hate scripts. Stuart Carolan is a genius, his writing is just genius.

When we were shooting the show, I stayed up all night writing a script and the next day on the way to set I handed it to Aoibheann McGinnity (she played Trish in Love/Hate), and she just laughed at me and told me I’m mad – and that you can’t be a writer overnight because the script was rubbish, obviously.

How did you become involved with Love/Hate?

I was shooting a music video for a song called ‘Heat Seeker’ with my old band White McKenzie and the producers from Love/Hate where there, Sarah McGinley and Maureen Hughes.

Pretty much I just asked them over lunch if I could audition and I did for a number of parts.

You asked over lunch? Who else did you audition for?

Well it was a long lunch. I auditioned for the detective and the dentist but I now realise that nobody else but Peter O’Meara could have played him, he did a fantastic job.

It was an amazing production, the sort of one that only comes around once in a career for an actor – well hopefully not for me. The calibre of writing had a big influence on me.

Let’s go back over 20 years to 1996. What was is it like to train under Olympic boxer Mick Dowling?

Terrifying! I was nervous every time I walked into the gym and I boxed for eight years. I love boxing but I just didn’t have the right physical make-up for it because I was always injured.

It wasn’t until my last year boxing that I felt comfortable in the ring, and actually I haven’t stepped foot in a gym in a long time – I’ll always love boxing.

You are unrecognizable in Vikings; how much fun is it to get into the character of White Hair?

It is fun to do period pieces where the whole surrounding compliments the actor, like the set is built around you while 200 to 300 of the very best extras are on set.

It’s a huge crew, the production is massive, and I don’t think there is a man around who wouldn’t love dressing up and playing an absolute savage.

You’ve done acting, writing, boxing and you’re also lead guitarist/vocalist in the band ‘Hail the Ghost’?

I’m sitting here beside my guitar pulling my hair out writing one song in particular for the next album, I’ve been writing this song for about a year.

But yeah, the second album is close and it’s a pleasure to be in a band with my best friends, they’re very loyal and patient with me when I’m off doing other stuff.

How do you balance it all?

The last few years I have completely sacrificed a social life because I’d rather be creating. I don’t drink, I don’t go out and I’m okay with that because creating is something I need and I’m genuinely happy when I’m creating.

It is a bit of a juggling act and I do dip in and out of different things, but it would be a misconception to think I’m doing stuff 24/7.

I have found that my family have become the busiest entity in my life and I’d spend a lot of time with them – I do have two features I want to write and several short films completed, in six months’ time I’ll hopefully be on set directing my own movies.

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