I am unsure how to begin today’s post other than with the utmost gratitude. I cannot express how much it means to me that I am able to write this today and I am completely overwhelmingly grateful to Killian Donnelly for his time.
As you all know I adore the theatre and everything in it so when Killian agreed to answer some questions for me I jumped at the chance. I am sure most of you reading this know exactly who Killian is, but for those who don’t he is an Irish actor currently appearing as Tony in Billy Elliot. With previous roles including Enjolras and Raoul, he also appears as Combeferre in the recent Les Miserables movie. He is a joy to watch as well as having one of the best sense of humours around and I hope you all enjoy reading this interview as much as I have enjoyed putting it together.
N: Your career began in Ireland where you were in a number of different productions, but did you always want to be on the stage?
K: I never wanted to be an actor. I’d always liked to sing etc but focused on becoming a primary teacher. Acting just took over. I grew up performing in amateur shows back home and from that my passion for performing just grew.
N: Your West End debut was in Les Miserables. Was this a show you particularly fancied or was it a case of auditioning for all sorts?
K: I’d never seen Les Mis but friends had encouraged me to get an audition. I lack the ‘get up and go’ so I’m very thankful for my friends’ encouragement.
N: You played a multitude of characters within Les Mis. Do you have a favourite and why?
K: Javert because he’s simply an incredible, complex character to play. Also the drunk in ‘Master of the House’!
N: You have quite a history with Les Mis – you were part of the 25 year celebrations at the O2 as well as being in the recent movie. Tell us about the O2, it must have been a pretty special occasion. Did you have to audition?
K: The O2 was incredible. I played the student Courfeyrac and I remember my first entrance during Paris; walking on that stage and saying to myself “you’ll remember this forever”. I was playing Enjolras in town at the time so they knew what I could do.
N: Since then you have played Raoul in Phantom of the Opera and are currently appearing as Tony in Billy Elliot. Which role has been your favourite and why?
K: Well each role is very different. You always try to better yourself. Tick it off and move on. I don’t have a favourite but since I saw ‘Billy’ six years ago I’d always wanted to play Tony.
N: Do you have a favourite show? Is there something you particularly fancy performing in some day?
K: No. Just keep going for whatever comes along.
N: Who or what are your influences and inspirations?
K: My Dad.
N: Do you ever get nervous? If so, how do you overcome the nerves?
K: I do get nervous but that’s a good thing. The day I’m not nervous about an audition or show I’ll give up. I guess I use the nerves – adrenaline – and before I know it it’s [the show/audition] over.
N: Would you ever take part in any of the TV musical star searches (e.g Superstar)?
K: No. Too nervous. I take my hat off to those who do…well the good ones. The mad ones are just mad!
N: What is the most embarrassing thing to have happened to you onstage?
K: Toilet tissue was once stuck to my shoe when I was Raoul. I did a whole scene with it there. Also, during a pantomime I swung out on stage for a sword fight, but forgot my sword.
N: How did your role in the Les Mis movie come about? Did you have to audition?
K: Yes, everyone auditioned. I was in a room with all the legends for about 35 minutes singing everything from the students numbers to ‘Master of the House’.
N: In your opinion, do you prefer the stage version or the film version and why? (I am a cop out and love both, though I am not sure anything will ever top live theatre).
K: I think the film explains the story clearer but the stage show is timeless. It’s so epic.
N: Do you have any funny stories or anecdotes from filming?
K: Well we always worked hard and very long hours, so whenever there was down time we’d joke. Myself and Alistair [Brammer] would somehow end up laughing. There’s no real anecdotes, it was just an incredible experience.
N: Would you like to move more towards film/TV?
K: As an actor I just want to do what comes along. I definitely would love to do more film and TV but I prefer theatre.
N: Did you cry when you watched the movie?
K: I cried at the end because I was so proud to be involved. I sat beside Fra [Fee] and we hugged and cried to each other like proper men.
And a final few:
Describe yourself in 3 words: Aggressive, Boring, Small. (?? If you say so Killian!)
What one item couldn’t you live without?: Cup of tea.
Would you ever consider joining a touring production? Yes.
What is your favourite costume to date? Blue pants (Billy Elliot).
Are any of the characters you’ve played anything like yourself? Yes. I tend to find I burst into song at random points during my day, whether I’m paying a bill or ordering a Chinese. Also they’re all male!
What would be your last meal if you had to choose? Large Big Mac meal and nine nuggets. With Coke.
Would you consider recording an album as many others are doing? Probably someday.
Do you have any advice for people wanting to do your job? Never give up. Me in a West End show is proof that anyone can do it.
Once again, an ENORMOUS THANK YOU to Killian for answering my questions and giving me a good laugh in the process (the blue pants are definitely something to behold if you haven’t seen them). I believe he has every right to be proud of the Les Miserables film as it is stunning, but that said I think he should be proud of everything he has achieved. He’s a credit to the West End. And I have to agree that a cuppa is the one thing I too could not live without!
I hope you have all enjoyed this little insight into Killian Donnelly, it’s been my absolute pleasure. 🙂
Keep Dreaming (some of them come true!)
Apologies to anyone who may own the copyright on the LM movie still. Happy to credit for use but it is not my picture.