We catch up with Irish actor Fintan Kelly as he brings Mark O’Rowe’s celebrated Dublin gangster play Howie The Rookie to Greystones…

It’s a long way from the leafy lanes and sliproads of Enniscorthy to the mean streets of Tallaght, but publican-turned-actor Fintan Kelly found tapping into the gangster world surprisingly easy.

Then again, most publicans have met more than their fare share of psychos.

Still, when you meet the mild-mannered and well-dressed Irish actor, it’s hard to equate him with the angry red head popping up in Game Of Thrones or that menacing face looking out from underneath his hoodie on the Howie The Rookie poster.

“Well, that’s the beauty of acting,” says the 37-year-old, Wexford-born Kelly, “you can be someone a million miles away from who you really are. We all have the same needs, desires, worries, etc, so, you just have to figure out where this particular person is coming from, and where they’re going, and all your natural instincts just take over…”

In the case of Howie The Rookie, Kelly has to work out two life paths, playing both the villain of the piece, Howie, and the victim, Rookie, Mark O’Rowe’s 1999 breakthrough being a play of two distinct halves. Originally, the late Karl Shiels and Aidan Kelly played the two parts, but O’Rowe later reworked Howie The Rookie as a one-man show that Tom Vaughan-Lawlor then cemented as the new gold standard.

Coming to Greystones on Thursday, October 10th, the latest highly-acclaimed incarnation of Howie The Rookie sees Waterford’s progressive Stagemad Theatre Company taking on a classic play for the first time, with co-founder James Power directing, the daring new production all planted firmly on the strong shoulders of a publican-turned-actor from Enniscorthy.

So, no pressure on the bould and extremely busy Fintan then. “Doing this show has been a joy,” he smiles. “And a very natural fit. Which, of course, deep down inside, has me worried…”


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