ARTS AND FEATURES ENTERTAINMENT — 23 August 2013

Shelley Marsden

HE may be on the cusp of major stardom, but Portlaoise actor Robert Sheehan has made his greatest fans in the UK for his depiction of a grubby, bomber-jacket clad criminal in RTE’s hard-hitting Love/Hate, the gritty Dublin gangland drama now taking the UK by storm.

In London to promote his upcoming Hollywood fantasy Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, his first move from character acting to a Hollywood blockbuster, the engaging star, 25, said that he still wasn’t too aware of responses to his gritty drama, the ratings for which have hit the roof since it was broadcast with little fanfare on Channel 5.

He told the Irish World: “Since Love/Hate has been on English TV I have not been on the continent to gage the reaction, to be honest, I’ve been away working! So, all of the reactions that I’ve heard about it have been remote. But if British audiences have liked what they saw, I’m delighted.”

Love/Hate has enjoyed its fair share of controversy with its frequent depictions of violence,  squalor and drug abuse, plenty  of which involve Sheehan’s character, the greasy-haired and malevolent-looking Darren Treacy, who returns to Dublin from Spain having spent time there dodging the Garda for drug possession.

Asked if the series was a faithful portrayal of the criminal fraternity in post-boom Ireland, he said: “Even though I’m in the show, I’m not an authority to give a definitive answer on that subject. I didn’t, you know, approach the role in any methodical way, or spend any time with real members of the ‘gangster underworld’ as the media back home is calling them. But I do think that’s the way these guys live, and the character’s we’re portraying are believable.

“What Love/Hate does is fairly honest, in the sense that a lot of the storylines it explores have been taken themselves from the Irish media. Stories that have happened might have been modified slightly and dramatized, so there is a basis of reality for a lot of the crimes that the characters undergo. There’s a lot of honesty in what they do, because these things have happened and been reported to the media.

He added: “The rest, if there is any poetic licence in there, is just good, powerful writing by Stuart Carroll, just the one man who straps himself to the beast, as it were, and writes the whole show – he’s written all three series’ himself. I find what he does is very authentic.”

Sheehan, whose first British TV role was as mortal superhero in cult show Misfits, plays a studious, bespectacled Simon in Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and is the only character without special powers.

The film is in cinemas from this Wednesday and stars fellow Irish actors Jared Harris, Aiden Gillen and Jonathan Rhys Meyers.

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