SHARON JORDAN: For those who don't know you, how would you describe yourself?
ANDREW TIERNAN: I'd describe myself as a jobbing CHARACTER ACTOR; I've been fortunate enough to work on some memorable shows and films. I'm one of those faces that people stop and look at and say I know that guy from somewhere. I'm forever being asked the question, what have I seen you in? I get followed a lot around shops; I get stopped by the police a lot. I've got one of those faces I guess, I play a lot of bad guy roles.
SHANNON LUSTER:Who or what has inspired you in your impressive career?
AT: Years ago, when I started it was people like DE NIRO, PACINO, BRANDO, OATES and DUVALL, people ask me what my opinion is about some of the Hollywood Actors/Models today, but I just don't get inspired by them, most of them look like they need an injection of personality. But, Bills, Money. The Taxman; I think they're enough inspiration to get me out of bed nowadays. Other than that, music is a big inspiration, always has been, it can get you in the mood for a scene or an audition, gives you that juice, a reminder of life and why we do it.
At the moment, I'm listening to a lot of DIE ANTWOORD and SLEAFORD MODS, they get the energy going, they've got fight in them and their music is saying something, it's got an anger, an energy, and it's not corporate bullshit that's just soulless.
SJ: Could you tell us about your new feature film; DRAGONFLY which is going to be released soon?
AT: Some new evidence about a girl who went missing years ago is sent anonymously to the Police, from a website that exposes corruption called; Dragonfly. The cold case is given to Detective Blake, who is told if he solves the case, he will be exonerated for the death in custody of a Black youth. It's a THRILLER, shot in Black and White, which involves conspiracy; corrupt Politicians who have links with the Police force and other criminal elements in society. It's about how people in power can cover things up if they choose to, even murder. People will have a lot to discuss when they watch DRAGONFLY, which I made before all the major revelations came out about ELM LODGE, DOLPHIN SQUARE and the alleged murders of young children and journalists. I got the idea for the film a few years ago, when I was made aware of stories emerging about potential pedophile rings in the Government in the UK. Victims and their relatives were posting videos on YouTube about their own experiences of this and then within weeks, or even days, these videos were getting wiped, so it seemed there was definitely a cover up or conspiracy. I came up with an idea that there was a website dedicated to exposing the truth, sort of like ANONYMOUS, or WIKILEAKS, which I called DRAGONFLYand that was the basis for the film. Ironically, only recently the MP THERESA MAY has stated that what they have discovered so far in historic cases is only the tip of the iceberg. It's all very worrying and disturbing. But what's equally disturbing is the negativity I've received when presenting this film, how a lot of people in sales and distribution are so afraid to touch it because of the subject matter, if it had been a Zombie film, I wouldn't have had any problems. It's a work of fiction that's been inspired by reality. What has been coming out recently in the news seems to be even worse; I'm just surprised that the British public aren't all marching on WESTMINSTER.
SL: You wrote, directed, produced, and starred in DRAGONFLY, what made you take that challenge on? What was it like working on the set having to switch from Actor to Director?
AT: I 'd just finished making 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE, which was a massive production and I wanted to do something GUERRILLA STYLE with a small unit, so I took the money that I'd earned from that, put it to good use and threw it into starting the Production. The pot wasn't very big, but I managed to finish the film and I'm pleased that I didn't have to go cap in hand to some financier who was going to be looking over my shoulder the whole time and worrying about the subject matter. It was liberating having that freedom, though there are other restrictions of course. I had many hats on the Production and it's a 24-hour job, which is still going on even now, but I didn't even have the time to stop to think about diving in front of the camera and behind it at the same time.
SJ: On DRAGONFLY, you gathered together an impressive cast of talented actors. How did you manage that?
AT:Luckily I've been working for nearly 30 years in the business, I've done a lot of shows in the UK, and gotten to know a lot of people; so I've got a long list of numbers in my phone; it's the only time in a number of years I've gone over my credit limit phoning people up and talking about the film, trying to persuade them to do it for nothing.
I was very fortunate in gaining such an amazing cast consisting of well known faces from British Television and Film, including; RAMON TIKARAM, ANN MITCHELL, SHONA McWILLIAMS, RICKY GROVER and newcomer; JESSICA HENWICK, who has since gone on to land roles in STAR WARS VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS & GAME OF THRONES. The cast I got was very ENSEMBLE BASED anyway, I wanted that and I wanted them to feel like they were doing something that was inspiring and different for them. I cast against type, so the actors who I approached felt they had a challenge. Everyone who was on it jumped at the chance to be involved, it's a lesson I've learnt anyway in the past, when a new film-maker approaches me and asks me to do their film for nothing and then I look at the part and it's a character type I've played a lot, I'll tend to not want to do that, whereas if it's a type I've not played before, then I will jump at the opportunity to do something different. And if you trust that they're good enough to do the role, they'll throw everything at it and you'll get a great result. It's a good thing to understand about actors, so that's how I managed to get the cast. But be careful not to cast actors with massive egos, as they can be detrimental to the whole production and you'll end up recasting them anyway as they show their true colors during the shoot. You have to give 100% it has to truly be ensemble from beginning to end otherwise you're fucked, on this level of film-making anyway, don't expect that on a Hollywood Production.
SL: What advice would you give those who are interested in creating as well as starring in film?
AT: If you're going to do it, you need a lot of experience in my opinion, but there's plenty of examples of great work from people who have done exactly that; ROMAN POLANSKI, JOHN CASSAVETES, WERNER RAINER FASSBINDER, BEAT TAKESHI, CLINT EASTWOOD and others. I should imagine when you've got a massive budget behind you and a great team it's an easier task. Of course there's many articles and books about those guys, but you just have to do it if you're going to do it. Nowadays it's a lot easier to get the technology to make a film without having all the toys. But you still need some kind of funds, I funded DRAGONFLY, without CROWDFUNDING, but after reading about the many low-budget movies that have been made for next to nothing, I might as well have been reading fairytales. Asides from getting the film made and then finished, you need to have a substantial amount to pay for distribution, advertising and festivals and those guys can rinse you, they're in with the big boys and they don't care about anybody, unless you got dollars in your hands.
SJ: You've worked on quite a few blockbuster movies in your career so far, including, THE PIANIST, 300 and 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE. Could you tell us about those? Who was your favorite director, if there was one?
AT: When you're on those movies, the only thing you really have to think about is the script and your characterization, you get a call time, you wake up, have your coffee and jump in a cab and it takes you to set, you have someone meet you from the car take you to your room, you get into your costume, you go to make-up, then they call you when they're ready for you on set. It's an easy time, you just pray that you're not going to come across a prima donna who'll ball you out for tripping over their lines. A lot of the time, you're not socializing with the other Actors or the Star. I see a lot of actors who turn up on these jobs for the first time and they begin making mistakes, because they feel they have to act a certain way on set and try and get in with the Star, they can play Jester for them for a couple of weeks. My policy is to try to just be polite to everybody, at this stage in my career I get invited out to drinks but I tend to make my excuses and head for home or my hotel. In terms of favorite Directors, I'd say that NICHOLAS ROEG and ROMAN POLANSKI are pretty much career highlights for me. Generally, I get on with everybody, I've worked with new Directors who have been total nightmares and new Directors who have been fantastic and experienced Directors who are predatory madmen.
AT: It's a two-part crime drama based on historic events in LEICESTER, ENGLAND in the 80's; the true story of the professor SIR ALEC JEFFREY's discovery of the technique of DNA FINGERPRINTINGand its use by Detective Chief Superintendent DAVID BAKER in bringing the Double Murderer to justice. I play Detective Sergeant Geoff Taylor a member of DCS Baker's team. It's a great script being directed by JAMES STRONG who directed BROADCHURCH, and numerous other things including DOWNTON ABBEY, it's going to be on a par with PRIME SUSPECT, definitely. There are some wonderful actors in it too including; DAVID THRELFALL and JOHN SIMM.
SJ: What are you going to do next?
AT: I've got a few projects coming out; a great film I did with DAVID BLAIR, a fantastic director, called COMMON which was about JOINT ENTERPRISE and it's use as a Doctrine in the British Legal System, look it up very interesting subject, literally it means Guilty by Association, JIMMY McGOVERN wrote the script for it, very powerful stuff, is out now on DVD produced by BBC. I went on to do another film with DAVID, which comes out in 2015, called THE MESSENGER I play a ghost, I think that's going to be really good too. At the moment, I'm shooting on a new series for CHANNEL 4 called NO OFFENCE and that will be out on TV next year.
DRAGONFLY Official Website
Andrew Tiernan's IMDb Page
Andrew Tiernan on Twitter
Andrew Tierna's Showreel on Vimeo
All Photos Courtesy of Andrew Tiernan