This Friday is the 17th March, and anyone with even a trace of green blood flowing through their veins know that it is a big day on the Irish calendar. Yes, lovely readers, it is indeed St. Patrick’s Day, and seeing as I’m more or less a Paddy who was just born in the wrong country, I’ve decided to celebrate with this week’s Top Ten. Here is my countdown of my favourite Irish actors, along with what I think is their best work to date.
10. Aidan Gillen – The Wire
Aidan Gillen is a familiar face for many people, having appeared in Game Of Thrones and a number of feature films. For me, my favourite appearance of his was in The Wire as Tommy Carcetti. I know I’ve said that when it came out his turn in the show, I found it all got a bit too political for my liking, but Gillen played a great character, I can appreciate that.
9. David Caves – Silent Witness
Someone who I think is an emerging face from the Emerald Isle is David Caves. The only thing I’ve really seen him in is Silent Witness, and I have to be honest, he’s kind of the reason I’m such a big fan of the show. I would definitely say watch this space for him showing up in a few bigger projects in future – he’s already made a brief appearance in Oscar-nominated Jackie, and the only way is up I’d say.
8. Gabriel Byrne – The Usual Suspects
I’ve not seen loads of Gabriel Byrne’s work, but of what I have seen, The Usual Suspects has been my favourite. He played a great role as Keaton himself, but the whole film was wonderful if you ask me. It’s been a while since I last saw it, so maybe I should get round to it again soon.
7. Robert Sheehan – Fortitude
He has taken on one of the main roles in the second season of Fortitude, and despite only being on my radar for a few weeks, I am already quite a fan of Robert Sheehan. He’s been in a few TV series and perhaps the odd film here and there, although I’ve not seen him in anything else besides what he’s currently starring in. Of course, now that I have discovered him, I shall be making it my mission in life to find other works of his.
6. Liam Neeson – Michael Collins
Now, you cannot have a list on Irish thespians without mentioning the actor who portrayed the man who played such a huge part in the independence movement that eventually led to the formation of the Irish Free State. Liam Neeson took on the role of Michael Collins in the film of the same name, and did a wonderful job. For anyone wanting to get a feel for the history that has ran between Ireland and Britain in the last century or so, this film is a great starting point, and one that I would absolutely recommend.
5. James Nesbitt – The Missing
This man is everywhere you look on British TV – you can’t seem to avoid him, even if you try! Thankfully though, James Nesbitt is a very good actor, and had been in some terrific shows over the years. One of my favourites has to have been The Missing, although I have to be honest, Nesbitt made his appearance in the pilot season, which wasn’t quite as wonderful as season two.
4. Colm Meaney – The Commitments
I’ve seen a lot of films with Colm Meaney in, but my favourite by a long way is The Commitments. He was so good as Jimmy’s dad in this film, and reminded me a lot of my dad when I watched him. He has a great deal of very funny one liners and off-the-cuff comments in the film, with a few rather brilliant words about U2 being amongst many that have stuck in my head since watching it.
3. Brendan Gleeson – The Guard
This. Man. Is. A. God. I will never tire of watch Brendan Gleeson with his dry sense of humour and dead pan face in any film, not least in The Guard. This film… I laugh every single time I watch it. I also really liked him in In Bruges with fellow countryman Colin Farrell, but The Guard still has the top spot in my book.
2. Michael Fassbender – Slow West
An actor who just seems to be going places is Michael Fassbender. He’s done everything – a western, a Nazi war film, a video game adaptation – you name it, Fassbender has probably done it. The last I heard he was in the running to be the next James Bond, so who knows where his career could take him next? For now though, my favourite film he’s been in is Slow West, for so many reasons.
1. Cillian Murphy – The Wind That Shakes The Barley
Another very good film that takes a look at Irish history and the journey towards independence is The Wind That Shakes The Barley. Cillian Murphy takes the lead here and since watching the film for the first time a few years ago, I’ve become a huge fan of his work. Murphy has taken roles in some awesome films, but is also the main character in BBC’s Peaky Blinders. He is a tremendous actor and certainly a fine talent to have come out of Ireland.
So there you have it – my favourite Irish actors, all in time for St. Paddy’s day at the end of the week. They are a wonderful bunch, and I would urge that you check out their work if you haven’t already, especially those that I have mentioned on this list because I’m hoping that if I enjoyed them, I can share those with you as well. Until next time, erin go bragh!