Ciarán Hinds: “‘Derry Girls’ is my 25 minutes of bliss”

The Oscar-nominated actor's daughter got her start in the Channel 4 sitcom

From superhero blockbusters like Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and Zack Snyder’s Justice League to heavyweight dramas such as Munich and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Ciarán Hinds has stayed booked and busy in a career that has spanned over four decades. Recently, his memorable performance in Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast earned him an Oscar nom he has long deserved, but he’s not resting on his laurels.

Next up is The Dry, an eight episode comedy-drama series about a woman’s attempt to remain sober when she returns home to her family in Dublin. We caught up with Hinds over Zoom to hear all about it – as well as Game Of Thrones, Tai Chi and why he’s a huge fan of Derry Girls.

What was it that drew you to The Dry?

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“It was the director Paddy Breathnach who got in touch with me. I’d seen four of his films over the last 20 years – all of which I really loved – and they’re all different genres. I saw that he was essentially a master of different types of storytelling. He sent me the scripts for the first four episodes, and I was intrigued because I’ve never been involved in a comedy-drama like this. So we had a few words and he asked me to come on board.”

The Dry focuses on Roisin Gallagher’s Shiv and her recovery from alcohol, but every member of her family has an issue to face. What is your character – Tom – dealing with?

“As the father, Tom is theoretically the bedrock of the family, but he’s dealing with his own grief and his wife’s grief. They lost a son eight years ago, and he has been trying to help her through that. So he needs to find some other spark in his life, which is why he ends up having this semi-open relationship with another woman, which also brings difficulties. So it’s about grief, alcoholism, and a dysfunctional family. But I also think [writer] Nancy Harris has managed to bring in a whole bunch of humour and lightness to the situation.”

Ciaran Hinds
With Judi Dench in ‘Belfast’. CREDIT: Alamy

We see Tom doing some Tai Chi in the first episode. Did you learn it for real?

“Weirdly enough, when they talked about me taking on Tai Chi I remembered a bit of it from ages ago. I think it was 1979 or 1980 when the Pope came to Dublin, and I happened to be there at the time working in theatre. I remember meeting with a lecturer at some ridiculous hour of the morning. She was showing me Tai Chi moves, just to be very spiritual. So I vaguely remembered that and I looked something up online, and I wasn’t too far away.”

One of the biggest TV shows on your CV is Game of Thrones. What do you think made Mance Rayder such a good leader?

“His lack of bullshittery. He didn’t bother with any of the extraneous nonsense that we usually see from people who lead. He said: ‘This is what the issue is, I believe in it, these people need help, and we are going to take action. And I will be as they are and I will live the life that they do.’ It’s not leading from the front. It’s leading from the centre, in a way, because he’s right in the middle of it. He knows that he has the capability to be the spokesperson, but he didn’t put himself higher than the rest of them. I think that’s probably why people followed him. I didn’t follow the show once Mance died, so I owe myself a treat once I stop working to watch it from beginning to end.”

Game Of Thrones
As Mance Rayder in ‘Game Of Thrones’. CREDIT: HBO

You played Steppenwolf in the Justice League movies. What did you make of the Snyder Cut movement?

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“I was thrilled that Zack Snyder got to complete his vision. I think that’s very important for an artist. People who have seen it have mostly remarked that his vision was terrific, and talked about how much better it was than the theatrical cut. But I haven’t seen it yet.“

One show that we’re betting you have watched is Derry Girls

“Derry people have their own culture, soul, and spirit. The idea of a comedy show coming out of that, set towards the end of The Troubles, and the joy and the innocence of these funny, driven, sparky girls who feel that all of this politics is just ruining their teenage years… I found that to be a great perspective to look at it from.

“My daughter was cast in the second season, and I was thrilled because she was just starting off as an actress. So of course I watched that, and she delivered herself really well. And I immediately caught up on the third season because some fella called Liam Neeson turned up in the first episode, shocking everybody. So for me, it’s been a lovely thing to watch. 25 minutes of bliss.”

‘The Dry’ streams on BritBox from May 5

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