Interview with Danny Kirrane for Wasted
You star in E4’s new comedy, Wasted. Explain a bit about the show.
Wasted is a story about four friends in their mid-20s who live in the West Country, and it’s all about the capers they get up to. They run a shop that sells marijuana paraphernalia and stuff – comics and posters and things like that, but they don’t really sell much. I think they’re a bit bored, so they’re constantly trying to have a good time.
Who do you play?
I play a character called Morpheus, who’s a 25-year-old virgin. He’s massively into fantasy – Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, computers – he’s a bit of a geek. He’s in love with one of his best friends, Alison, and has been since the age of about 5. He’s quite sweet, but he can be quite aggressive sometimes as well. You feel for him a bit, because he’s a bit of a loser, but he’s also got an inner strength. He’s happy with himself, with his own character.
How much of you is there in Morpheus? Can you relate to him?
I’m from a large town in West Yorkshire, so we grew up in pretty different places. I’m not like him in the geeky sense. I did a physics degree, so there’s bits in the way he behaves that are based on someone who I studied with who was quite geeky. I do like that fantasy world, but not to the same extent that he does, where he would get a Game of thrones tattoo on his back. And the whole virgin thing, that’s never really been an issue for me, but I certainly know what it’s like to be a young person who’s in love with someone when it’s not requited in the way that you’d want it to be.
What attracted you to the role?
For me, the writing is extraordinary. The guys have put so much effort into it. I remember reading the scripts in January, when I thought I was going to do it, and they made me laugh so, so much. Also, I really like Tom Marshall, the director – he knows what he wants, and he’s really talented. So it was a chance to work with a really creative team. And I just liked the character of Morpheus. I think he’s funny, and you can’t help but feel for him.
Is this the first time you’ve been the lead in a TV show?
Do you feel a real weight of responsibility when you turn up on set, knowing you’re something of a lynchpin?
I did feel that a bit, yeah. I’ve never felt that before, I’m more of a character actor, so the limelight’s not normally on me. On this I feel like it is. But because we have such a good creative team, and the writers were there all the time, however as much as Morpheus is my baby, he’s more their baby, so I felt like everybody was pulling in the same direction. I never felt alone with it. It was always a discussion. They took a lot of the pressure off, because they were always thinking about how Morpheus would react to stuff, which really helped me.
There’s one aspect of the show we’ve not really touched on yet – Morpheus’ spirit guide. Explain a bit about him.
Morpheus is massively into the fantasy world, and he loves game of Thrones. During the series, he is visited, spiritually, by Sean Bean, in fantasy medieval garb. They go on a journey throughout the series, so at the beginning, Morpheus is completely in awe of Sean bean, and by the end, that relationship has moved on somewhat. He gives me advice about women, and about being less of a geek, basically.
How was it working with him?
It was amazing! It was really hard not to laugh. He’s someone who I’ve watched since I was a kid – I remember my mum watched Sharpe, she used to love him. She had a massive crush on him. Also, being from Yorkshire as well, I’ve always had a soft spot for him. It was great playing opposite him, he was so funny. He improvised around it, and made it even better than it was on the page. Those scenes were quite easy, because my character is basically in awe of him 90 per cent of the time. He dragged me through those scenes, I just had to react to him.
Are you actually a Game of Thrones fan in real life?
I’ve seen a couple of the series’, but there’s so much TV around nowadays that if you miss an episode, it takes you a while to get back in. I do watch a lot of TV – I’m watching The Sopranos for the second time around at the moment. But I do like Game of Thrones. I’ve read the books. The books are fantastic.
Was the show as much fun to film as it looks?
Yeah, definitely. It was also tough. Normally, on a shoot like that, you might do 700 slates. We did 1200 slates, by the end. We filmed 62-hours’ worth of material, apparently. It was a lot to get through, but it was so much fun. You had to be on the ball though – there were no days when you thought “Ahh, I can chill out today.”
Some of the stuff you get up to is quite ridiculous – did you find corpsing a problem?
Yeah, there’s quite a few bits where you were on the cusp of it. We laughed a lot.
You had to film a particularly awkward and hilarious scene in episode one, in the pub toilets. How was that?
Again, we didn’t have much time to do that. I remember the director saying “We’ve really got to go for this!” Dylan [co-star] struggled there with laughing. We both had to keep disinfecting our fingers, because we did that for an hour and twenty minutes. We both felt really nauseous afterwards. I’d brought up so much bile, gagging for two hours. All for one little 45-second scene. I was gagging and heaving in the car for hours on the way home. But I knew that scene was good. First Assistant Directors, when there’s time pressure, are always really serious, they’re not ones to laugh normally, they’ve got too much on their mind. But our First AD was laughing his head off, so I thought we were on to something.
You do both comedy and serious acting, on stage and screen. What kind of material are you most at home with?
To be honest with you, I don’t know yet. I’ve loved all of those things for different reasons. I just want to play interesting characters who are not me, who are different to me. I want roles where I can feel a sense of accomplishment when I watch them back, because it’s taken a lot of work to build whoever that is. The reason why I liked Morpheus is because he’s such a different character to me. I love drama as well, I love the challenge of it. I miss the stage, I haven’t done any theatre for a while, but I hope to go back to the stage soon. I just like a challenge and I like working with people that I think are really good, and feeling like I’m learning all the time. As long as I can improve, and be a little bit better in the next job, that’s enough for me. I feel like I’m learning all the time. And on this job I felt like I learned so much – especially from Tom Marshall, the director. He’s so good with his comedy. He knows what he likes and he knows what he wants.
You’re in the forthcoming Pirates of the Caribbean film. What was that like to film?
That was great. It was completely different to Wasted in that we shot about a page of dialogue a day. We spent a lot of time in our trailers. But it was awesome; it was like being a kid. I got to swordfight and ride horses and shoot guns – it was great fun. I’m excited to see it when it comes out next year.
Does it feel strange, going from a massive film set to a small E4 comedy?
It’s different in loads of ways, but in many respects I preferred doing Wasted, because of the part. It was more of a challenge, in some respects. That Hollywood, big budget thing is fun, but you spend a lot of time waiting to do things, whereas in this, I was acting all day, every day, and I really enjoy that, when I don’t have time to think about it and it’s just on instinct.