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IFTA Q&A Series: Genevieve O’Reilly on Acting
04 May 2023 : Luke Shanahan
Genevieve O'Reilly (Photograph by Louise Samuelsen)
To mark the 20th anniversary of the IFTA awards, we are showcasing Irish talent who are blazing a trail across our industry, working in front of and behind the camera.

Hosted in association with IFTA, this Q&A Series connects with talent who represent a range of disciplines across the Irish film industry. 

We find out what they look out for in the projects they take on, what their approach is to filmmaking and collaboration; what inspires them; and what recent work in the industry they most admire.

Genevieve O’Reilly is nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama for Andor. She revives her role as Mon Mothma, having appeared in previous Star Wars franchise installments such as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. She has also starred in the TV mini-series The Honorable Women.

IFTN: IFTA celebrates 20 years this year. How does this significant milestone reflect the growth and strengthening of the Irish film industry over the past two decades?  

GENEVIEVE: “I think when we have the opportunity to gather together to celebrate the work that is created by Irish artists, we actively pay attention to the strength and the depth of that work. And then collectively, we are inspired and uplifted to continue to reach and strive and create.”

IFTN: What do you look out for in a script? 

GENEVIEVE: “Well, it probably sounds too obvious, but I look for a good story, well told.”

IFTN: How do you prepare for auditions, and what advice would you give to younger actors?

GENEVIEVE: “I think auditioning is difficult at the moment. The culture of self taping can feel isolating and lonely. My favourite part of auditioning used to be getting the opportunity to meet with different casting directors, directors and producers and collaborating together on a scene, whether I ended up getting the job or not. When I talk to younger actors at the moment I usually encourage them to try to think of the self taping process not as a test, or a guess but as an offer - in the hope that that helps frame the process in some agency.” 

IFTN: How did you approach playing your character in this film, and how much rehearsal was involved? 

GENEVIEVE: “The producers, creators and directors on Andor allow and schedule for genuine rehearsal time. Often on a separate day from when we shoot. Aside from taking the nerves away, I find it gives time for understanding, discovery, practice, cogitation and rumination. When we get to the filming day that means the dynamic between the actors can be less about nerves, camera and blocking more about play and the electricity between the characters.”

IFTN: What Irish Actor/s have you been most impressed by recently? 

GENEVIEVE: “I mean it's a long list… Here’s a few: Kerry Condon, Jessie Buckley, Saoirse Ronan, Zara Devlin, Sharon Horgan, Eva Birthistle, Sarah Greene, Eve Hewson, Brenda Fricker, Eileen Walsh, Paul Mescal, Colin Farrell, Andrew Scott, Barry Keoghan, Brian Gleason, Brendan Gleeson, Annemarie Duff, Ruth Negga,  Ciarán Hinds,  John Lynch,  Fra Fee, Conor MacNeil, Mairead McKinley. The whole cast of Dancing at Lughnasa on at the moment at the NT in London. And my fellow Irish women on Andor, Fiona Shaw and Denise Gough!”

IFTN: What Director or Actor would you most like to work with and why (Irish or international)? 

GENEVIEVE: “I mean that’s a ridiculously long list… I've been working a lot with male directors on Andor, so here’s a few brilliant females I’d love to collaborate with: Sharon Horgan, Greta Gerwig, Celine Sciamma, Charlotte Wells, Rose Glass, Marie Kreutzer, Sarah Polley, Chloe Zhao, Jennifer Kent, Aisling Walsh, Dearbhla Walsh, Ava DuVerney, Eva Birthistle… I could go on and on…”

IFTN: We often are our own worst critics. What is your approach to constructive criticism and inward reflection? 

GENEVIEVE: “I’m not one for reading reviews… Because I think the work is done by then, so it belongs to the audience at that point. But I completely value and crave constructive creative criticism from a director during a filming process. I am genuinely inspired by collaboration and curiosity. It’s the best part of the job. So much fun!”

IFTN: What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given in your career? 

GENEVIEVE: “Stop acting and listen.”

The 20th anniversary of the IFTA Awards Ceremony will take place on Sunday, May 7th.

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