The release of the magical screenwriting debut from ‘Harry Potter’ creator J.K. Rowling is upon us, with fans of the existing franchise and a new generation preparing to experience the first of five films crafted by David Yates.
We chat to the Irish Actress playing one of a pair of executioners in this first instalment, and who also features in the latest season of Charlie Brooker’s chilling ‘Black Mirror’ series.
She talks us through her excitement and preparation for the roles, her experience at Warner Brothers, and the profound effect of watching Richie Smyth’s ‘The Siege of Jadotville’ as the daughter of an A Company soldier.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Moynihan describes her first day on the set of ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ with laughter, having met Des Whelan (Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children) and Colin Farrell (The Lobster) and exchanged “cúpla focal” in Irish.
Moynihan had collaborated with Whelan almost a decade before when he worked as a cinematographer on ‘How About You…’ (Anthony Byrne). The last thing she had expected was to speak Irish on her first day in the same Warner Brothers studios which brought ‘Harry Potter’ to life.
“I can’t describe that lovely feeling. There was a huge sense of national pride, especially as Colin was representing Ireland in such an important production. He is a gentleman amongst gentlemen, and such a talented person.”
She approaches the telling of her time at the studios with caution, utterly careful not to give away the slightest detail ahead of the film’s release. What she discusses at length however, is the significance of approaching a project with the legacy and creative influence of ‘Harry Potter’ behind it.
“This is beyond cinema. It began in the literary world and has transposed to the cinematic world, which hasn’t been lost on me. The longevity of a project like this also gestures to the generational gravity of magic films.”
Although Moynihan has worked with green screen in more minor productions before, the scale of VFX employed in ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ is gargantuan. She tells us the cast worked intensively with puppeteers, with an additional stunt and coordination team to guide them through the process.
“As actors we work in a make believe world so it isn’t that difficult to imagine things around you. We had a team of puppeteers who mock props up and work with you before you actually approach the scene, so you have a clear picture of what you are doing in your mind.”
‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ releases to Irish cinemas Friday, November 18th.
Black Mirror Season Three
Though starkly different to the magical world of Newt Scamander and company, the universe of Charlie Brooker’s anthology series is no less captivating, as it pushes the limits of human nature with the themes of futurism, technology and paranoia.
Moynihan features in the second episode, entitled ‘Playtest’, in which she plays the mother of lead character Cooper (Wyatt Russell). We follow Cooper as a broke American traveller who finds himself testing a revolutionary new gaming system, unable to tell where the game ends and reality begins.
Unlike her secretive audition for ‘Fantastic Beasts’, Moynihan auditioned by self-taping from home when put forward by her UK Agent Ed Cobb.
“The minute I read the character and scene I just knew her, even though it was very bizarre and I was excited about showing what I could do with her. I sent off my clips and within the week I heard that I’d gotten it. I never really engage with the end-to-end process and so I didn’t know it was on Netflix until I got on set and heard everyone talking about it.
Episode One (Nosedive) with Bryce Dallas Howard just blew me away. I just bought something online recently and you have to leave a user rating for a person. It reminds me of that episode and I can’t bring myself to do it!
My episode is terrifying. For the fan base its very much ‘Black Mirror,’ and I had no idea of how huge that fan base was until this. I’m so proud to be associated with it and Dan Trachtenberg—what an actor’s director!”
‘Black Mirror’ Season 3 is currently available on Netflix.
The Siege of Jadotville
Richie Smyth’s Directorial debut starring Jamie Dornan is important to Moynihan not only for its Irish significance but for her personal connection to the unrecognised Irish soldiers who fought in the Congo.
She tells us how she experienced the film as the daughter of a soldier who fought alongside Pat Quinlan. Based on the novel by Declan Power, Kevin Brodbin (Constantine) adapted the true story for the screen, since prompting an international shift in the dialogue on Jadotville and a call-out for the veterans to be honoured.
“He was in his fifties when I was born, so I don’t know anyone anymore who would have known him…I learned about a father who was a shadowy figure to me. It’s put my father in context, and I now have an understanding and sympathy for him I never had before. It was a profound experience and has brought him back to life for me.”