I recently got the chance to talk to Fiona Ryan about her role in ‘Life Just Is’. Here, Fiona talks about how she got involved in the project and what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set…
Hey Fiona. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your role in ‘Life Just Is’.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
‘Life Just Is’ is about a week in the life of a group of recent graduates living in London. The film itself is more of a character study, so the plotline is just based around the events that happen in that week. The themes in which it touches upon are relationships, death, theology and the big ‘C’ word… careers! It is a very real depiction of life itself and so there is no heavy plotline to talk of – I find it very hard to answer that question; “So what’s the film about then?”! Every character has their own life path so I suppose there are many plotlines!
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I play an art graduate called Claire. She’s a happy-go-lucky kind of lass who normally finds the fun in every situation, although during the film someone close to her dies, so she is faced with grief. This makes her think about her own life and in turn makes her realise she isn’t as happy as she could be bringing her career and relationships to the forefront. During the film Claire goes through a huge emotional journey…I really enjoy playing that type of role, getting deep into the thoughts and understanding why people react in certain ways. A proper character study!
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
My agent sent me the script to look at the part of Jay – (Jayne Wisesner’s role). I went along to the casting and met Alex the director and got recalled but they gave it to Jayne in the end – which was definitely the right move! I really loved the script so I told my agent to let me know if any other roles were available, and lo and behold Claire was up for grabs! It was interesting for me to go back to the script with another character’s perspective. So I went into the casting room again and the rest is history!
How would you say this film is different and unique?
The thing that caught my interest about ‘Life Just Is’ is that nothing really happens. That’s a very bold move, especially for a first time feature director, because so many films concentrate on plotline and action. I love how this film crosses so many boundaries and yet is so still and silent. It provokes thought and makes even the non-art house movie goer think about camera work and how it tells a story as well as the action it’s capturing.
The film stars Will De Meo, Jack Gordon, Nathaniel Martello-White, Paul Nicholls, your good self, Jayme Wisener, Jason Croot and Rachel Bright – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?
I know everyone says this BUT we got on so well!! I think because everybody was so passionate about the project, and because we shot over such a small time frame, we all pulled together and it felt very much like a collaborative piece. Jayne did a ‘Behind The Scenes’ video diary which you can find on YouTube, so check it out and see for yourself! I have to say though, Jack was such a messer on set… it was so funny to see him switch between the thoughtful Pete to his natural state, which was usually bouncing off the walls with a cheeky grin!
Let’s talk a bit about you Fiona. What made you want to get into the industry in the first place?
I come from a very musical and creative family; my Dad being a poet – (but excepted he had to feed us, so went into accountancy!) and my Mam’s a classical guitarist who was always touring. She taught myself and my two older sisters instruments from the age of five. Mine was the piano, followed by guitar and then onto drums when I was a rebellious 16-year-old! So performance was in the blood! Since I realised I couldn’t be a dolphin when I grew up, I’ve always said I wanted to act. My Mum knew being an artist wasn’t exactly easy nor profitable so a couple of years after attending weekend acting classes at The Gaiety School Of Acting in Dublin (from the age of 11), I got a walk-on role in Sinead O’Connor’s music video, ‘No Man’s Woman’. My Mam thought I’d soon see it wasn’t all glamorous and how much waiting around on set there was, so after the music video she was like; “… still want to be an actor then?”. and I was like; “YES!! I had such a deadly time!! I got to chat to so many different people – I LOVED IT!!”… then she accepted my fate.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the industry?
My advice would be to think really hard about why you want to be in the industry. Really understand your motives. I know that whatever the career you may choose, it is not easy and this is certainly the case for acting. You need to be able to stay focused on what gets you excited about acting because there will be so many knock backs. Even when you think you’ve ‘made it’, there’ll be a time period where absolutely nothing happens. If you can stay positive and know you’re in it for the long run, then you’ll be grand!
You’ve been in a number of different film and TV projects – which actors/actresses have been your favourites to work with and why? Any good stories?
Obviously working with my sister, Rebecca, on ‘The Tudors’ was an absolute dream! It was our first major role since we graduated from The Gaiety together. It’s a scary thing when you book that first job but I had my buddy on set with me so it wasn’t so overwhelming at all! Also, being in that corset for a whole day, waiting in your dressing room/winnebago for hours on end, not being able to sit for the lack of oxygen, you had to make your own fun, so having a sister there was a great laugh…!! I once nodded off standing up; most comfortable position number 1.
A funny ‘Tudor’s story is when myself and Rebecca was on set for the first time and our characters were to be introduced to Sam Neill’s who played Cardinal Wolsey, then the scene would focus on Jonathan Rhys Myers being all King-y on the other side of the court. So when we were in the background Sam Neill started chatting away to us – I had no idea if he was in character or not, so I went with the former and started talking about my stately home and how I would do anything to get a higher status in life. Turns out he was just having a friendly chat and so he went away thinking I was some kind of crazy lady. Hmmmm….
If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
AH! I hate these questions! I’m no good at them… ok, eh hows about Orson Welles for the sheer fact that we could have a pie eating contest and then afterwards get drunk and shout profanities at unsuspecting passers-by. Then maybe Noel Fielding because he’s just silly and unassuming and will probably join in with me and Welles. Now all we need is someone to serenade us… I’m loving Corrine Bailey Rae at the moment, so we’ll add her into the mix…she also seems quite lovely and sweet in interviews so she won’t mind the pie mess. Phew…that’s three guests.
What is your favourite holiday destination and why?
Oh please bring me on holiday!! ANYWHERE!! Well if I were to choose, it’d be somewhere where nothing happens. Somewhere you can just sit, preferably in the sun, and by water, and a bar, and a spa…with good food…and music. I once was lucky enough to go to The Maldives. That was amazing.
On your off-days, how do you like to kick back and relax?
It’s really hard to find off-days being a freelancer because if you’re not working, you’re trying to get work! And that’s that! But when I say to myself, right enough’s enough for one day, I get on the blower to my pals and see if anyone wants to go on an adventure with me somewhere… I’m the most relaxed when I’m with my people!
What’s coming up for you in 2012?
I’ve got a movie called ‘Airborne’ coming out at the end of July, starring Mark Hamill, Alan Ford, Gemma Atkinson and Andrew Shim and myself. It’ll be a good one if you like horror/thriller and planes and blood and spooky-ness! Then ‘Life Just Is’ will be coming out on DVD in UK & Ireland in Autumn, so with that two under my belt…who knows!
Thanks for the interview!