Travelling companion

Michael (centre) with some of those who turned out for Sunday’s event: Wendy Medcalf, Ken Mulkearn, Andrea Butch, David O’Rourke, Louise and Dave (Shebeen bar, Kentish Town). Picture: Anne Mullen

By David Hennessy

Actor Michael Collins was at The Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn on Sunday for a very special screening of the new film, King of The Travellers. Known for his roles in Man About Dog and Glenroe, Michael joined The Irish World’s David Hennessy for a question and answer session where he spoke at length about his involvement in the film.

Also starring Peter Coonan of Love/Hate, King of the Travellers is the story of John Paul Moorehouse who seeks revenge for the murder of his murder and is sure The Powers, a travelling family the Moorehouses have had a long feud with are behind it. Things are complicated when John Paul falls in love with a Winnie Power.

The film’s supporting cast includes many members of the travelling community who are not actors. The interested crowd listened to Michael talking charismatically about the lengths that he and director Mark O’Connor went to to make the film as authentic as possible.

“I’m a professional actor and I’m also a member of the travelling community,” began Michael. “I would have been involved in this film over two years. The first seven or eight months, we came up with different stories, scenarios and he (Mark) would go away and write, comeback to me and I’d change it. We finally got the final draft a week into shooting the film.

“I was very much involved in the story telling of it. Also, the casting. One of our ambitions was to get as many travellers as we could find. That was my involvement: The story, the casting and then the costumes, the set design. We tried to make everything as real as possible.”

Peter Coonan told The Irish World recently about how he spent much time in the travelling community to prepare for his role as Mickey The Bags Moorehouse, wanting to get the accent but also body language correct. Peter’s character struggles to be accepted by his fellow travellers as not born into the family, he was adopted at a young age: “Peter is a fine actor. I think what worked in Peter’s advantage was he was surrounded in the rehearsal room by travellers. When they were smoking, having a cup of coffee, Peter was standing beside them and watching the way they were standing.

“When people play travellers or any other minority group, they have a tendency to play the character way over the top. We made the decision that the traveller characters wouldn’t go over the top but Peter could because he was playing a settled person reared by travellers and I (my character) didn’t like him anyway. Peter put an awful lot of work in and I think you can see that from his performance.”

For the full report, see the April 13 edition of The Irish World.

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