Award winning actor Kevin Ryan was born in Dublin, Ireland. His family are eighth-generation stonecutters, and although Kevin completed his apprenticeship as a young man, his own interests leaned more towards the arts, where he harbored a love of Shakespeare, professional dancing and active sports.
Kevin’s true passion is in acting. So, encouraged to follow his thespian path, Kevin moved to Los Angeles, California. It was not long before Hollywood recognized Kevin’s natural talent.
After several lead roles in a variety of independent movies, he was cast in his first major American role as the lead in the thriller Tripping Tommy, a feature film set for release later in 2012. The film is based on improvisation, and required Kevin to give his performance with a flawless American accent.
Hailed as Ireland’s newest emerging star, and voted one of Ireland’s sexiest Irish men for two consecutive years, Kevin can be presently seen starring in the top award winning RTE One TV drama ‘Raw’ which began airing earlier this year.
Currently Kevin is filming his latest lead role in Toronto, Canada, for the highly anticipated BBC TV drama series Copper. This Irish actor plays Detective Francis Maguire alongside British actor Tom Weston-Jones. Copper is slated to premiere on BBC America on August 19th.
Elite had the chance to sit down with Kevin and talk to him about his life, career and his new series.
From stonecutters to Hollywood – how does your family take your career choice? Were they welcoming or adverse to your goals in life?
Yes, I guess it was bit of a change for them to see me take the route I did. In the early school years, I was always supported with drama in school plays and lessons by my parents, as I guess it is good for any child to do something creative and expand their personality; it is productive in a sense. As well, I’m sure it was good child minding where they didn’t have to worry! I remember I used to get a bit of stick from my family when I transitioned into dancing and was taking it seriously. My Dad always viewed the entertainment industry as a hobby that would never amount to anything initially, so once I started to actually get work that changed everything. I figure when a family tradition has gone eight generations and someone decides to venture into something completely different, it is going to raise an eyebrow. But I do get constant positive support from them all now, and I truly believe they enjoy the successes that I have been blessed with. I do miss stone cutting, though, and still get the urge to pick up a hammer and chisel every now and again. What can I say other than I like creating; it’s addictive to me.
So of all the arts, why acting? Was this a childhood passion or a young adult career choice?
It has always been around me, as I mentioned even with drama as a kid. I remember at about the age of 10 or 11 I would write my own school plays and cast myself and my friends in them and we would have a blast. I see choices, so following your passions and dreams in life are very different things, especially if fueled by something negative such as fear or insecurity. A conscious choice intellectually will mostly steer you away from your gut feeling or passion on something; I mostly go with my gut and see where things progress to. As time passes, I usually switch sides of the brain while always trying to maintain some sort of sanity and happiness.
Method acting was what launched everyone from Marlon Brando to Dustin Hoffman – but how hard was it to perfect your "American" accent?
An accent or even the voice can change a lot of the time depending on what the role is, so I feel it is important to have openness inside. I spent about 3 years working on different dialects while studying method and it helped a lot to get placement and rhythm for a lot of dialects. These adjustments take time, but once I understood the sounds and really listened to what is going on with me I found it easier to bounce around. The Irish seem to initially fall into a southern sound when it comes to an 'American' accent, but that’s probably my generation growing up with our parents hooked on [the show] Dallas.
You are well known in Europe. Do you want to break out in American markets, or do you find satisfaction in your continental roots?
Most people I feel find satisfaction in working with talented, home grown people, but as you expand outside of that you move into different cultures and prospects for all areas of the acting world. I love working with talented people and I just want to expand myself and grow in every way to better my craft.
Are you excited for Copper? Tell us a little about the series and your role in it.
‘Copper’ is a series that I am very excited about. The team that I have been surrounded by since the get-go on this has been outstanding in every way – and that’s everyone from the creators to cast to catering. Everyone involved really set a high bar and created a world so real on set [that] it actually made our jobs as actors easier because we were forced into the reality of that world, whether we liked it or not. I play Detective Francis Maguire who came over to the States a good few years ago. He is an ex-boxer now suffering from a loss of vision in one eye from a fighting injury. He was brought in the detective world alongside his best friend Kevin Corcoran in the 6th street precinct. I played [the character] a little rough around the edges: stern while trying his best to hold onto his heart and grasp at love while struggling with his own inner demons. [The acting] was dark at times, but rewarding as there was a lot to explore and hone in on. Tom Fontana was exceptionally wonderful in the creation process as he had openness for all of us approaching our characters and was always there to lend support in the creation process, which was very secure.
We always like to ask about the life of a celebrity, so what is the oddest thing a fan has done to get your attention?
While having a BBQ one Sunday afternoon, a naked woman ran through my back yard and lifted her shirt up screaming. She had my name painted on her breasts in the colors of the Irish flag. It was terribly embarrassing but hilarious at the same time! I think even the gas on the BBQ stopped in shock!
Photo courtesy of BBC America’s ‘Copper’ - Kevin Ryan and Tom Weston Jones.’
What are your goals as an actor? Put another way, what would be your definition of success as an actor?
Success as an actor is to do work that you’re passionate about and keep working. Success means many different things for people, but if you feel truly content and happy while working in this very tough industry, you’re on top of the ladder already.
Aidan Sakiri | Elite.