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Irish accent the toughest challenge in my rebel part
JAMES D'ARCY TELLS HOW IT FELT TO BECOME THE STAR OF CONTROVERSIAL SERIES ON EASTER RISING.
By: MAEVE QUIGLEY / Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date: Jan 21, 2001
TURBULENT DRAMA: James D'Arcy and Paloma Baeza, above, in a brief moment of closeness during the violence of the uprising
DASHING James D'Arcy certainly possesses the smouldering good looks of his Pride and Prejudice namesake.
But unlike the dark and troubled Mr D'Arcy or indeed Ernie Coyne, the passionate young idealist James plays in the hit BBC series Rebel Heart, the 27-year-old actor is more than happy to go with the flow.
Rebel Heart sees James in his first starring role but he is more than aware that acting is a tough profession.
"If there were periods where I wasn't being offered acting jobs, I went and did other stuff to pay the bills," James said.
"I worked on a building site for six months, I worked in a pub for a while and did all sorts of other things.
"I wasn't under any delusions I knew I wasn't going to be playing opposite Julia Roberts straight away.
"I knew it would be difficult - that at first the parts would be small and infrequent so I was prepared for it.
"I've always thought this game was all about the unemployment. If you can be unemployed as an actor and be cool and take it in your stride then the employment is the easy bit.
"The unemployment bit is when you have to keep your cool and where you need to have a good temperament. And it's never really worried me much."
James has been working steadily since Rebel Heart and at the minute is enjoying being 'an unemployed bum' until his next role.
"Soon after we finished filming Rebel Heart I got offered the part of Nicholas Nickleby in a television adaptation and after doing both jobs I went on holiday.
"And I've just finished shooting a film called Revelation with Terrence Stamp and Liam Cunningham who's in Rebel Heart.
"Revelation is difficult to explain - it's part thriller, part horror movie, part action adventure.
"I play this guy called Jake who has a real skill at breaking codes. At the beginning of the film he's been in prison for a long time for breaking the wrong ones.''
Happily since Londoner James played the evil half-brother of Max Beesley's Tom Jones in the BBC epic, the roles have been flooding thick and fast - no mean feat for someone who didn't even contemplate an acting career until he was 18.
"I drifted through me teens 'not really wanting to be anything, man," James said.
"So I went away for a year to Australia and travelled around and when I came back I thought acting seemed like it might be good fun.
"I'd worked in a school in Australia helping out in their drama department and that was what started me off."
James was accepted for a place in LAMDA and thoroughly enjoyed it.
"I didn't even think about the decision I'd made," he explained. "It was great - I made lots of new friends, I had a good time and it was exactly what I'd been looking for.
"It was only when I left college that I began to think: 'Hold on, I'm unemployed.
"After that it was just luck - you do need a really hefty slice of luck and fortunately people took chances on me which is why I'm speaking to the Sunday Mirror now."
James' father died when he was little so he and his younger sister were brought up by his mum Caroline, a nurse.
Before Rebel Heart, his only memory of Ireland was from a trip he and Caroline made to Dublin when he was seven.
Although his great grandparents are Irish and he still has relatives living here, James never expected to get the role of Ernie Coyne.
"I thought it would go to someone who was Irish so when I got the part I felt I had to be as good as I possibly could.
"I really did work myself up a bit over the accent. I had two weeks with a voice coach in Dublin and trying to get the accent right was probably more tiring than making the series."
And after he got the part of Ernie, James immersed himself in Irish history.
"It was deeply engrossing and I couldn't stop reading."
James says he would love to be in Ireland to find out what people think of Rebel Heart - not least because of the controversy which surrounded the drama before its release.
"I'd love to know what people make of it now they've seen it,' James said.
"For example, David Trimble hadn't seen the series when he wrote the letter condemning it, then the BBC defended it and all the newspapers got wildly excited about the writer Ronan Bennet's history.
"But I'm sure now people have seen it they'll have wondered what the fuss was about.
"One thing people seem to have got very worked up about is that Ronan has squashed some dates together.
"But that happens in almost every drama that is based at all on fact.''
COPYRIGHT 2001 MGN LTD