One thing that was often remarked about Kilkenny’s Rory Fleck-Byrne as a young, amateur thespian was that he was destined for big things.
It’s still early days in his acting career, but so far, so good. Be it treading the boards of historic theatres or gracing the silver screen, the 25-year-old takes it in his stride.
“I want to be able to do both,” he says.
“But there is something about being on a stage in front of people, feeling the response and the collective energy. That for me is exhilarating.”
This month, it was the stage that won out, as he played the role of Nicky Lancaster in Noel Coward’s The Vortex. The jazz age spectacle came to the end of its run in the Gate Theatre last weekend, and was positively received by audiences.
But next week, it will be the screen, as he appears in Lionsgate-backed horror film The Quiet Ones. It will premiere in London’s Leicester Square on April 1.
Set in the 1970s, the film is about four Oxford students doing experiments in an attempt to disprove the supernatural. The role of student Harry Abrams presented an interesting dilemma for Rory.
“I was torn between an English and an Irish accent,” he recalls, as he got the call.
“But there was something in the character that was just close to me. I wondered ‘were there Irish students in Oxford in the 1970s?’ So I rang Oxford and asked, and looked at some records.”
It turned out that there had been indeed, and Rory went with an Irish accent. He spent five weeks shooting it last summer, with a cast including Jared Harris (Mad Men) and Sam Claflin(The Hunger Games: Catching Fire).
Rory is a former student of Kilkenny College, from where he went on to the prestigious RADA drama school in London to learn his trade professionally. He is, naturally, also a former member of Kilkenny’s own Young Irish Film Makers (YIFM), having become involved with the group when he was 13.
In those days, youth threatre and Dreamstuff projects were his bread and butter. He played the lead in Mike Kelly’s impressive drama ‘Stealaway’, which won an award at the Moondance Festival.
Rory admits to missing Kilkenny a little in his adopted-home of London, but being located there is important for someone in his profession.
“[London] has so much to offer and it really is the hub of the industry,” he says.
“Everything casts out of London, and it’s quite relentless as a city. But I cycle everywhere. The more I live there, the more I value getting out to re-appreciate it.”
Further along in the pipeline is ‘Vampire Academy’ (April release date), whose cast features the likes of Gabriel Byrne and Olga Kurylenko.
Rory is also working on a new short film – ‘Bodies’ – with Kilkenny-based director B Welby-Delimere. The duo previously collaborated on ‘Untitled Blues’, a short film which won Best Fiction at the Royal Television Society.
“We are going to shoot [Bodies] in September,” he says.
“It’s exciting to get to come home and make something. It’s a dark comedy about the co-dependent relationship between two undertakers. They are two people trying to be present in life, and be happy in the moment.”
The pair are trying to raise funds for the project at the moment, and are calling out for local support.
“Kilkenny is a big character in the film so it would be great to have support from local businesses and investors interested in the arts,” says Rory.
“It would mean the world to us and would bring the city of Kilkenny to a wider audience.”
Those who wish to help out on can do so on Kickstarter by using the following link