February 20, 2018 Interview – Tom Vaughan-Lawlor
Most of the time you just do not know where life will take you. Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor thought the last thing he wanted to be was an actor, but as we know, plans change. Soon growing a strong passion for the arts, he would go onto become a study of acting and over the years has risen to new heights in television and feature films. Recognized for his role in the popular series Love/Hate, Vaughan-Lawlor continues to expand his horizons with his latest role in the Horror film The Cured. A new challenge for the actor, he sat down to talk his work on The Cured, what he has learned over the years, his role in the anticipated Avengers: Infinite War film, plus much more.
CrypticRock.com – You have been involved in acting in film and television for nearly 15 years now. First, briefly tell us, what inspired you to pursue a career in acting?
Tom Vaughan-Lawlor – My dad is an actor so I kind of grew up around acting. I actually didn’t really want to become an actor when I was growing up because I saw how tough a profession it can be. It is a tough life, it can be very tough raising a family as an actor. Through my teens, my dad was always exposing us to great plays, great films, and great acting performances. By the time I got to university, I moved to London and trained at RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art). From there, that was it really, it was the only thing I ever wanted to do. Even though it is a tough profession, I do love it. I feel very lucky to be able to work as an actor and be a part of the artistic community.
CrypticRock.com – It is interesting how your opinion of what you want to do in life changes.
Tom Vaughan-Lawlor – You just don’t know where life is going to take you, right?
CrypticRock.com – That is very true. Among your many credits, you have been a part of a list of successful television series. Do you enjoy working in this format?
Tom Vaughan-Lawlor – Yes, there is talk of the golden age of television. So many actors want to be involved because it really gives you so much scope to develop a character. When you make films, 4-6 weeks, your job is over and you can never go back to the character you’ve enjoyed playing. If it’s a recurring character, you get to annually revisit, revise, and restudy. I always think it’s very interesting looking at James Gandolfini in The Sopranos. His accent in the first episode and in the final episode, I don’t think the accent changes, the pitch seems to have lowered, as if it has gotten more into his body. I think that is quite interesting. I find that fancasisting that having that depth of time working on a character obviously bends into him so much over time. That is a great opportunity for an actor.
CrypticRock.com – That is a great point. As a viewer, you do notice an actor’s dialect changes overtime if they have enough time to work on the character. You have also done feature films, and one of your most recent works is a film called The Cured. How did this part come about for you?
Tom Vaughan-Lawlor – I was sent the script by my agent, and I have to admit being weary of it, but only because of my ignorance of Horror or Zombie films as a genre. I was generally ignorant in terms of Horror’s capacity to tell a great story and to deliver a message. I slightly dismissed the genre, a lot where people dismiss Game of Thrones or Fantasy as a heightened, sometimes pantomimic kind of format. I simply dismissed Horror as a shlock time of thing. But by written script, and just studying, understanding, and being taught more by Horror, I realized its way, it is as good as any genre. It was a real education for me and a real great opportunity for me as an actor to stretch myself by working in that genre. I never worked in it before.
Also, working with Ellen Page, who is stunning actor, you get to learn from great actors. Being an actor is also growing as an artist. Also, with the film set in Dublin, a Horror film set in Dublin is new. I think it is a clever take on a Horror story, it’s the aftermath. That to me is very clever and fresh.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, Horror gives you the ability to stretch beyond what one expects, especially someone who is not a fan of the genre. The Cured is a film that certainly falls under the subgenre of Horror, it really creates a tense atmosphere. That in mind, it also has a social commentary amidst it. Was this something that attracted you to the story?
Tom Vaughan-Lawlor – Yes, totally. I think it is kind of timeless. It is a message of people who disenfranchised or marginalized, they are ripe for manipulation. I think that is as pertinent now as it ever was. Unfortunately, it will probably be pertinent and relevant for much time to come for people who feel they have no voice when they feel boxed in and can easily be spun and manipulated. That’s what The Cured is about, I think.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, and it does succeed in that. What is also great about the film is it allows you to get into the characters because of a small group of characters. What was it like bringing your character to life?
Tom Vaughan-Lawlor – What you hope for as an actor. You are looking at a script, a character which in one way is inconsistent. Human beings are endlessly complex and will do things that some will say are out of character. They are full of contradictions. I think Conor is a character who is full of contradictions. He is someone who is an introvert, deeply sensitive, and deeply hurt. He is also someone who is a sociopathic or with megalomaniac tendencies. Although he is a bad guy or a villain, he is much more complicated than that. That is what you look for in a script and a character – a part that asks questions as well as answers questions. I think David Freyne, the writer/director, did a brilliant job of that.
CrypticRock.com – He certainly did. The acting also comes across quite believable and honest throughout with each actor doing a sensational job. What was it like working with this cast and crew?
Tom Vaughan-Lawlor – I think David stressed the importance of being as truthful and detailed as possible. Then you work with someone like Ellen Page, obviously I have seen her work before, it is a given she is brilliantly talented. Then, when you are in a scene with people, you see why they are brilliantly talented. You get a close-up audience with that talent and a close-up experience with that. Working with great actors is an opportunity to learn, watch their process, and see how they prepare. That is really exciting to me. I love meeting actors, seeing how they work, and taking from other actors. That was really special.
CrypticRock.com – You can always learn something new from others. Even the slightest bit of detail.
Tom Vaughan-Lawlor – Listen, the minute you stop learning, you can forget it. I think that’s why great actors are great actors, they are forever seeking to be better, working hard, and learning. We can do that in any walk of life, there is always something to learn. Until the day we die, we are still learning, or we should be.
CrypticRock.com – That is the truth! Seeing you have done a lot of recurring roles in television, how would you compare working in television opposed to feature films?
Tom Vaughan-Lawlor – Well, I suppose it depends on the scale. I think budgets are tight and people are ambitious. This is a slightly generalized answer, but TV can be shot very fast. Whereas with film, ideally you get a bit more time. They think about working fast when there is a tight budget. It really focuses the mind and really makes you stay on your toes, which I also really enjoy. Sometimes you are only getting a few takes and you have to make this count. That really focuses the mind and it can lead to a very focused set. I quite enjoy that challenge to be honest. Sometimes hanging around during filmmaking in some instances can be quite exhausting. I sort of enjoy that kind of guerilla style hit and run of certain TV jobs.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, sometimes the most anxious thing about films is sitting and waiting.
Tom Vaughan-Lawlor – Well, you know the old actor’s saying is, “They pay you to wait around and the acting is free.” There is a lot to be said for that. Having said that, we are very lucky to be actors and do what we love. If you are working in film and television consistently, you are doing well, you really can’t be complaining.
CrypticRock.com – That is true as well. You have a few other projects on the horizon, including the highly anticipated release of the new Avengers film, Avengers: Infinity War. What was your experience like working on that film? How excited are you for the release of this film?
Tom Vaughan-Lawlor – I am really looking forward to seeing it. I worked on it from February of last year to November intermittently. It was really great, it was incredibly exciting and an extraordinary experience. That scale of it is so massive. I have said it before, even though the scale is huge, the integrity of the people, the creativity is as important as working on an small art-like film. I think that is what makes Marvel so special. What makes Marvel really work is they are sticklers for truth and detail. All the stuff around it bolsters that truth. I was thrilled to be on set with all those characters and actors along with Joe and Anthony Russo. They were all working for the same, truth and drama of a scene.
CrypticRock.com – It sounds like it was a great experience. You have a lot of great things coming up in 2018. My last question for you is regarding films. You said you are not much of a Horror fan, but do you have any favorites in the Horror and Sci-Fi genres?
Tom Vaughan-Lawlor – I love Alfred Hitchcock. His is more Psychological Horror. I am a huge Science Fiction film fan. I think my all-time favorite film would have to be Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). I am just less schooled in the Horror genre, but I am getting there.
CrypticRock.com – Cool, and Horror comes in various forms – it is not always blood and guts.
Tom Vaughan-Lawlor – Exactly, and I think Hitchcock’s insidious nature of his Horror, what is terrifying, is the often domestic, run of the mill settings. They become heightened by his focus on the horror of those everyday things. He’s amazing.