Tadhg Murphy can’t remember Sally Rooney’s phenomenally successful Normal People series when it aired. In fact, he doesn’t remember much about 2020 at all.
For good reason: the Dublin-born actor and his partner, writer-director Anna Sheils-McNamee, had a young son, Rian, to care for.
“I did not get much sleep. I remember normal people is coming and I remember it was a relaxing thing to watch,” he says.
The 43-year-old appears in the highly anticipated sequel series Normal people, conversations with friends. This series is backed by the same creative team, including director Lenny Abrahamson.
The story centers on Frances (Alison Oliver) and Bobbi (Sasha Lane), two students and former lovers at Trinity College Dublin who are caught up in the marriage of famed author Melissa (Jemima Kirke) and “pathologically passive” actor Nick (Joe Alwyn ) become involved. .
Murphy plays Derek, one of Melissa and Nick’s bohemian middle-class friends who joins the four of them with his wife Evelyn (Sallay Matu Garnett) when they go on vacation to Croatia.
Rooney is rightly called the voice of her generation for her insightful portrayal of twenty-somethings. However, according to some of the actors in this series, it seems that their portrayal of thirties is not that well rounded.
Kirke (37) told that Daily Telegraph Last month: “When I finally read the book, I thought, ‘This is marriage from a 22-year-old’s perspective.’ I don’t think that’s good or bad. Her writing is beautiful, but there were moments I struggled to get anything to work.”
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Murphy seems to share that sentiment. “I remember thinking that the older character variety was a little thin,” he says.
“I told Lenny that inside [our first] Meeting because it was obviously a concern. He said that’s why he wanted to cast me because he thought I had character and would give Derek a little bit more.”
He definitely has character. He’s speaking to me via Zoom from his home in Sutton, his long hair messily pulled back into a topknot. He is uncompromisingly honest and direct.
Despite his initial reservations about the older characters, the series sounds like a joy to film; three weeks in the ancient town of Hvar overlooking the Adriatic Sea.
He describes Alwyn as “an angel man” and former girl Actress Kirke as “the best crazy person in the world”. He knows saying everything was fine on set might seem a bit boring.
“I know it’s so fucking boring … I wish I could say there was one person who was a real pain in the ass, but if there was one, it probably was me.”
normal people had a Midas touch; anything and everything that appeared on screen became a phenomenon. Connell’s gold chain, for example, has amassed 150,000 followers on Instagram and has even been described as “on the way to winning a Bafta of her own.”
It must have been a bit intimidating to sign up conversations with friends provided that it may well follow the same trajectory.
“Not at all… You feel like you’re in good hands,” says Murphy. “I’m kind of past caring what people think about how a show is doing. Anything that I think is going to be really good never does, and anything that I think is absolutely sh*t makes it so damn good.”
I ask for examples and he bursts out laughing and says it’s probably best not to go into detail. Probably.
normal people resonated with viewers when it was broadcast; for some, it brought back memories of their own formative years. For others who were meant to live college life but found themselves isolated in back-to-back lockdowns, it represented more.
Murphy is a keen kitesurfer and has spoken to some of the twenty-somethings “out on the water” about Rooney’s book and series.
“They felt it spoke directly to their experience,” he says. “It was something of a true romance for them, and it really bonded them because they’ve been so damn lonely during the pandemic. It was almost like a social life to fantasize about and connect with.”
Murphy began acting when he was in secondary school after one of his teachers, Toirleac O’Brien, saw his potential. He took part in school productions and went on to study acting at Trinity College’s Samuel Beckett Centre.
After graduating, he was heralded as ‘One to Watch’ and performed on the stage at The Gate, The Abbey, The Royal Court and The Young Vic. He also starred in TV shows such as viking and The clinicand movies including boy eats girl and Alexander. His workload has increased significantly in recent years. He was in the Sky series BrassGuy Ritchies anger of man and is currently filming a Damien McCarthy horror film in West Cork.
He also played Eiríkr Blaze Eye in the Bloodbath film The Northman (“It was a tough job – I was in the woods in my ninnies in the middle of the night, dancing with men”) and will star in the upcoming BBC western alongside Emily Blunt The English.
“Someone told me that when you have a child, that child is born with a piece of bread under your arm,” he says. “So I was broke and didn’t have a job. And Rian came and it was endless… I think because you have to pay your rent and you’re under pressure,” he says.
There’s pressure to pay the rent, he adds, but he didn’t take every job that came his way.
“I really care about my work and I really care about the people I work with, but I started saying no to things I wouldn’t normally have said no to… My time is much more precious to me now.”
Murphy’s career also took a turn when he stopped hiding his partial blindness.
At the age of 13, his right eye was severely damaged in a bow and arrow fight. He spent a month in the hospital and eventually lost an eye.
For years he tried to disguise this by wearing a prosthesis that perfectly fitted his seeing eye.
“I was subconsciously hiding my eye and covering it with my hair the entire time,” he says.
But when he met his partner Anna, she asked what he was hiding from, and his attitude began to change. In the TV series Black sails He was fitted with a slightly lighter colored prosthesis due to the character being blind. After the shoot, he decided to keep wearing it; it made him feel more authentic: “I’m like ‘this is who I am’.”
Losing an eye at such a young age sounds like a potentially devastating ordeal, but as a child he was unfazed.
“You’d assume it was traumatic, but it wasn’t because you’re getting so much damn attention,” he says. “And I’ve had so much madness with it over the years. I’ve always seen that as a strength.”
It was only years later that he realized the trauma and pain it had caused him and his family. When his son was born, he finally had to face that pain.
“I guess that happens. You can’t hide from yourself when you’re lucky enough to be in love with your child,” he says. “You want to be honest and honest with them, and how can you do that when you’re in denial yourself?”
‘Conversations with Friends’ airs Wednesday at 9.35pm on RTÉ One
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/television/tadhg-murphy-on-why-he-was-chosen-for-conversations-with-friends-how-he-lost-his-eye-and-what-changed-with-parenthood-41644318.html Tadhg Murphy on why he was chosen for ‘Talks with Friends’, how he lost his eye and what has changed with parenthood