Digital Spy

Search Digital Spy
1

Cult Interview

'Single-Handed', 'Misfits': Matthew McNulty interview

By
Brian Doyle (Matthew McNulty) from Single-Handed

© ITV

If you're a crime drama fan, you'll be pleased to hear that Single-Handed is back for a new series on ITV1 later this week! Yes, the surprisingly dark Irish crime drama returns to our screens on Thursday - and this time it stars Matthew McNulty as Jack's cousin Brian.

If you recognise Matthew, it might just be from the Misfits Christmas special, where he starred as creepy power-broker Seth. He's coming back for the new series of that too, so we gave him a ring for a chat about Single-Handed, Misfits and whether we'll be seeing his show Room at the Top any time soon...

For people who haven't seen Single-Handed before, can you tell us what it's about?
"It's a police drama that centres around Jack Driscoll [Owen McDonnell] and it's set in Connemara, the west coast of Ireland. It's sort of entrenched in this harsh landscape. The drama encompasses that - it's like the landscape and the darkness of the stories intertwine. That's what sets it apart from other police dramas. It's got a sense of claustrophobia about it as well."

Do you think it's darker than people expect it to be considering it's set in the countryside and so on?
"I think so. It's a police drama set in Ireland and my first impression of that is... Irish people are generally quite a laugh and it brings to mind images of upbeat people. I didn't really know much about the west coast of Ireland and I think most people in England don't. It's one of the things I noticed about Ireland, that there's not as many English tourists over there as you'd expect, considering how close it is. So it is alien to a lot of people. I think it'll be quite surprising how dark and moody the whole thing is."

Can you tell us about your character?
"I play Brian. He's come to Ireland from Manchester to search for his dad. His dad left him when he was 4 and when he bumps into Jack, he finds out that he's related and Jack's the key to finding his history, basically. His sole drive is to find this missing part of his life, and then when he finds Jack that becomes another piece of this jigsaw that is his broken life. I mean, he comes to Ireland a bit of a mess. You don't see it at first but gradually throughout the series Brian does crack and it's because of the fact that he doesn't really have any history. He very quickly clings on to things. First he clings on to Jack, and then he finds out about his dad and this image of his dad that he had in his mind is shattered when he meets him, but because of the drive throughout his life to have a dad and to have a history he quickly patches over it and finds positives to it. But then his dad's gone and it becomes about finding his history as a whole. That's sort of represented in the land - there's a dispute over the family land and he should be part of that. He's finding some grounding in life because he comes to Ireland a bit lost and he sort of grabs hold of the area and the landscape and this history that he didn't know about. He becomes obsessed with that."

Do you think Single-Handed is more character-based than other police dramas?
"Yeah, I think so. Police dramas set in cities can have so many things going on at once and it's plausible, whereas being set on a vast expanse of land with not as many people in the area, ultimately it automatically becomes about the people because you can focus more on the people than on the crimes that are driving the story. I think that helps, the fact that the community that it's set in is so close-knit - you have to get to know the characters."

Did you enjoy filming in Ireland?
"Yeah, it was amazing. I had a fantastic time over there. You're so far away from any kind of civilisation - the closest city was Galway and that was an hour and a half drive, and Galway's not a big city. You get the sense that everybody knows everybody. But we were in Clifden and everybody knew what was going on, the filming in Clifden and all the other little towns. You got to know everybody straight away and it was the same with the crew. We became a bit of a community in ourselves and it was nice for everyone. And it's an amazing landscape. I didn't know places like that existed in Ireland. I just thought it was fields and farms and stuff but it's breathtaking. I've got family over there that I got in touch with while I was there so it was nice to get to know them a bit. I sort of have that parallel with Brian."

Did that make it easier to play him?
"Yeah, I suppose it did! I spoke to my aunties and they gave me loads of numbers to speak to people. I suppose that connection with Ireland that Brian wanted... I think it's nice. Once you're over there they want you to be part of Ireland and you want to be Irish as well!"

Why should people tune in to watch Single-Handed?
"If you like police dramas, obviously there's that, but then what sets it apart is just the mood of it and the look of it. You could sit in a room, close the curtains, turn the volume up and just watch this beautiful landscape with a sort of dark story slowly unfolding. You can fall into it. Just the language as well, the accents, there's only mine and Simone [Lahbib]'s that's not Irish. I mean, the stories are great and everything but I think just looking at it and the music of it, I think that's what'll get people."

You're also playing Seth in Misfits - did you know they'd keep you on when you signed up for the Christmas special?
"Well, there was an option but it was never definite. So I had an inkling but I didn't have a clue what they'd do. But it's been great, we've just started filming it."

Are you having fun?
"Yeah, it's brilliant. Seth's got Nazis to deal with at the moment, and there'll be some zombies further along the line. And a love story as well. It's good."

He's not a very nice guy, Seth...
"Yeah. I think at first you sort of think that, but I think you get to know Seth a little bit more in this next series and you can kind of get a little bit of an understanding of why he is like he is and I think people will warm to him a little bit more."

What else can you tease to get us excited about Misfits?
"I don't know! We only shoot it block by block. At the moment there's an episode where Hitler doesn't get killed. In the Christmas special, Seth makes a reference to someone giving a power away and someone wanted to go back and kill Hitler. Well, he doesn't get killed. Somebody goes back and Hitler doesn't get killed so when they go back to the future it's a different world, and that's where the Nazi thing comes in. I don't know how that guy's mind works, [creator] Howard [Overman]. It's crazy some of the storylines he comes up with."

And Joe Gilgun is joining the cast as Rudy now that Robert Sheehan (Nathan) has left.
"It's just the same level of... Rudy well and truly takes the baton from Nathan."

You worked on the BBC's adaptation of Room at the Top recently but it was pulled from the schedules because of a copyright claim. Do you have any idea when it'll be shown?
"I don't know anything new. I think it's still legal issues being sorted out, but I can't really say anything new on that. I'm just waiting like everyone else."

It must be annoying for you.
"Yeah, yeah it is. But I don't think about it too much, to be honest. It'll come on eventually and if it gets watched, great, and if not I'm sure people will gradually pick up on it."

What else are you up to at the moment?
"I just finished shooting with Noel Clarke on one of his films, The Knot, which is like a romcom about a couple getting married. It's set on the day of the wedding and it's basically the journey to the wedding, and everything goes wrong. It was a nice film. It was shooting with Mena Suvari from American Pie. I looked at the cast, like, 'Noel Clarke, Talulah Riley...' and I kind of grew up with Mena Suvari with American Pie and American Beauty. I just thought, 'Bloody hell, I'm going to be doing a film with her!'"

Single-Handed returns to ITV1 on Thursday at 9pm.

You May Like

Comments

Loading...