Fresh from appearing on our television screens in Fair City, Fergus Dennehy talks to Tralee actor Tim Landers about the long and winding road he’s taken to where he is now, how he’s happier than he’s ever been and how sometimes, he will still run with excitement to rehearsals and auditions.
“Tralee people like to see one of their own doing well and hopefully by now, I’m considered one of Tralee’s own, I don’t know if I am or not.”
These are the modest words of Tralee’s resident actor extraordinaire, Tim Landers, one of the towns most well known and well liked faces and a man who for the past 15 years has lent his significant talents and stupendous energy and work ethic to almost all of the various stages that we here in Kerry and further afield have to offer.
Even now, after an acting career that has spanned almost 27 years and which has seen the Dublin born-turned Tralee local feature in Game of Thrones, Killinascully and more recently a prominent role in Fair City, Tim insists that he is only just getting started and that there is so much more to come from him in terms of honing his craft even further and striving to be the best actor that he can possibly be.
The origins of this amazing passion and love for his job can be seen in the circumstances of how he came to be on stage in the first place; a promising soccer player for at both League of Ireland and International level with his country and with a lucrative paid contract wirth Galway United in his hands, it only took the breaking of his leg and an off the cuff offer of a role in an amateur play back in 1990 for Tim to realise his love of the acting craft and for him to turn his back von what many would have considered to be a dream career. A dream career for many, but not for Tim, he had his own dream to pursue, that of acting.
“I was working in the Bank of Ireland in Galway from 1987 to 2002 and for the last five years there, I was very unhappy. I had been playing soccer but I broke my leg and I was out for a year so my friend went and introduced me to amateur drama and that was it for my soccer career, I had caught the acting bug,” said Tim, talking to The Kerryman on Thursday.
“In Galway, I did my first ever amateur play there way back in 1990, it was called ‘Seven Brides to Seven Brothers’ and I haven’t looked back since and I’ve done every piece that I could lay my hands on,” he laughs.
“I took a two year leave of absence from the bank and I moved away to England and I did a lot of pantomime work while over there and then when I came back from my leave, I worked at the bank for another three months and I found that I couldn’t do it any more and I just left; that life wasn’t for me and I just wanted to be an actor, that’s all that I wanted to do.”
“It was a massive leap of faith for me at the time, and my family weren’t sure at all what I was doing leaving such a well paid job but I can honestly say that right now I’m happier than I’ve ever been.”
‘Happier now than I’ve ever been’ is quite a statement to make, but what is it about acting that after all these years and all those hours of travelling and rejection that showbusiness is so famous/infamous for, what is it that has Tim, now at 50 years old, still so enthused and excited about going to rehearsals and being on stage?
“What I love about acting is being given the opportunity to step into someone else’s shoes and being allowed to present their view point; I might not be like that person but my job is try and become that person on stage and in front of an audience and I absolutely love that challenge and that feeling,” he says.
“When it comes to the adrenaline that I get from being on stage, let me put it like this; I’m a hardworking actor, I know that there’s infinitely more talented actors out there than I, but I know that I work very, very hard on my craft, I really do.”
“I watch movies every day, I watch the actors, I watch people in real life and how they are and how they interact with people and I think ‘I could do that in my next part’ so it’s like a job, I’m constantly learning and working to be better.”
“When you’ve worked on the character, you’ve broken down the piece that you are doing and then after a lot of long hours of practice and rehearsals, you get to go out on stage in front of an audience and someone goes ‘Wow, that was great’, that’s the rush, that’s the vindication for all the hard work I’ve put in and for me, there’s honestly no better feeling,” he says, the pride now obvious in his voice.
“I have to say that my first time on a stage back in 1990 is possibly one of my fondest memories from my career, I remember it being like getting hit in the face with this sheer buzz and happiness; back then I was used to performing on the soccer pitch but there I was now performing in front this audience and for them to come up to me afterwards and tell me that I did a great job was amazing.”
“I remember just going ‘oh man’ and this buzz and excitement washing over me; you get this buzz when you’re on stage and you get this hunger for acting and you want to do everything. I’m still like that now, I will run to rehearsals sometimes, that’s how excited I am to be doing this thing that I love; in my head, I’m thinking that this is my passion, this is what I want to be doing for the rest of my life,” he continues.
Fresh from his starring role on Fair City last week, a role in which he played the gangster-esque character Donnacha O’ Riordan and got to star alongside two of the shows most famous characters in Paul Brennan and Niamh Cassidy, Tim has nothing but good things to say about his experience working on the RTÉ show and he jokes that he will sit anxiously waiting by the phone to see if his character gets a returning role.
“When I was working in Galway and thinking of leaving my job there, I would sit at home after a days work and I’d be watching Fair City and I just thought to myself, ‘I would love to be on that show. I think I might just be good enough for that.’” he says reflecting on his excellent start to his year so far.
“Working on Fair City back in November, it was just a culmination of all my years of hard work for me; it was an absolute pleasure to work on the show, people were just so lovely up there. There was a lot of support from everyone there, banter between the scenes, they were respectful and engaging, I couldn’t have asked for more,” he admits.
Going from relecting on one of his proudest career moments to date, Tim goes on to look back on his proudest all round moment as an actor, a moment that he says that will stick with him for the rest of his days, the moment that he collected his AIMS award for ‘Best Comedian’ at the INEC for his role as mad German playwright, Franz Liebkin.
“When I won my AIMS award in the INEC back in 2014 and a thousand people rose up to their feet to applaud me and support me, that was my proudest moment as an actor, it’s something that I’ll never forget. It was just amazing and incredible.”
So, what now for the Tralee actor? What does the future hold for him?
“I’m currently rehearsing for my role as King Herod in the musical ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and I can’t wait for rehearsals to begin, it’s going to be a lot of fun!”
We reach the end of our interview after about 20 minutes of talking and I ask Tim, if he can, to try and sum up his acting career and journey so far in a few words or a single sentence and his answer is wonderfully typical of the hardworking actor…
“Not finished, there’s much more to come,” he states.