Q&A: Finbar Lynch

Reporter: Charlotte Marshall, first published Tue 08 Jan 2013 17:33

Finbar Lynch’s career has taken him from London’s most famous powerhouses to the Royal Shakespeare Company to a Tony Award-nominated stint on Broadway, all under the direction of a who’s who of theatrical royalty including Peter Hall, Sam Mendes and Trevor Nunn. But the actor is currently supporting the potential theatrical royalty of tomorrow and is set to appear in the final Donmar Trafalgar season production, showcasing the work of Simon Evans, a recent graduate of the Donmar’s Resident Assistant Director programme.

Fresh from his role in the Lyric Hammersmith’s critically acclaimed production of Eugene O’Neill’s explosive Desire Under The Elms, Lynch will lead the cast of The Silence Of The Sea, a drama about a soldier who is billeted to the home of an old man and his niece, leading to an excruciating dilemma. But while Lynch may be best known for his roles in such powerful dramas, he told Official London Theatre that underneath it all he’s just a secret hippy who would like to spend his time taking long walks in the sun.

What first sparked your interest in performing?
I wanted to be David Bowie when I was 11.

What do you consider your big break?
The first job I got; The Young Collector in A Streetcar Named Desire at the Gate theatre in Dublin. I was a stagehand at the Gate at the time, the stage manager smuggled me into the audition.

What is the finest performance you ever have seen and why?
Donal McCann and John Kavanagh as Captain Boyle and Joxer in Juno And The Paycock at the Gate theatre in Dublin, 1986. Here were two very different actors completely in tune with their roles and each other, it was extraordinary.

What drew you to The Silence Of The Sea?
I worked with Simon Evans [the director] on The Duchess Of Malfi at the Old Vic theatre, and it’s a terrific script.

What was it like performing in The Duchess Of Malfi with a broken arm? Is that the biggest disaster you’ve encountered when doing a play?
Luckily the Cardinal [his role in The Duchess Of Malfi] benefited hugely from wearing a leather sling.

I did a play set in a prison, the floor was a metal grid and during a blackout at the end of a mid-week matinee, Corin Redgrave, who was playing the Warden, tripped and fell face first onto the metal grid. He was very badly cut and bruised. He was taken to the emergency room (we were in the USA) and the doctor told him on no account could he go back to work for at least three weeks. Come 19:30, there he was on stage looking like he’d just been in a car crash; they don’t make them like him anymore.

Comedy or tragedy?
The best has a bit of both.

Who or what inspires you?

What do you do when you’re not performing or rehearsing?
I can’t remember.

If you could create a fantasy production to star in, who would you cast, who would direct and what would it be?
A revival of No Man’s Land with Ralph Richardson and John Gielgud, directed by Harold Pinter. I’d like to play either Foster or Briggs with Donal McCann as the other.

Do you have any regrets?
I regret that I’m so bad at keeping in touch.

Have you made any sacrifices for the sake of your career?
I had a couple of season tickets at Arsenal for myself and my son; I missed a lot of games.

What will always, without fail, bring a smile to your face?
Paul Whitehouse.

What could you not be without?

My bicycle.

Where do you head after a performance?

What ambitions would you like to fulfil?

I would like to go on long walks in southern Europe.

What do you look for when taking a role?
A couple of laughs.

If you weren’t an actor, what would you be?
An old hippie on a beach in Kerala.

How would you like to be remembered?
As an actor who worked up to his 100th birthday and died on stage having uttered the last line of the evening.