Ros na Rún star Seán Ó Baoill reveals why his gay character can’t ever have a happy ending
This article was originally published in the June 2017 Issue of GCN (Issue 330) which is available to read online here.
Actor and roving BBC reporter Sean Ó Baoill plays bad boy Adam on TG4’s Irish language soap, Ros na Rún, which broadcast the rst ever gay kiss on Irish TV 21 years ago. After three years of getting up to all sorts of no-good shenanigans, this season sees Adam struggling to come to terms his homosexuality. It’s a story that can’t have a happy ending, Ó Baoill, who is also gay and grew up in the Gaeltacht, says.
Irish is my first language. I grew up in the Gaeltacht area of Donegal and I had a love for drama from a young age. I acted with amateur groups at home and in school, and that continued until I went to college to Dublin and joined the drama society there. All the work I do in acting or producing or presenting, I do it through the Irish language, and that’s very important to me. It’s great that I have the opportunity to do that 12 months of the year.
Ros na Rún was a staple in our house when I was growing up. At the back of my head it was always a goal to get a part on the show. I did audition a few years back, but I didn’t succeed. And then I attended a workshop and got in through the back door that way.
I was completely starstruck my first day on set, because I’d grown up with so many of the characters. Ros na Rún is as good as any soap you’d see on British television. The writers are not afraid to shy away from issues that are current and relative, which might give way to discussion.
Ros na Rún films from August to mid-February, so it’s a six-month cycle for the actors. I work freelance otherwise. I’m doing a radio series for the BBC at the moment, working for an independent production company called Below The Radar TV, as a roving reporter on an Irish language production.
I had no idea my character would turn out to be gay. I was brought in three years ago as a bad boy, to stir up some trouble in Ros na Rún. Adam was very angry, though, and I always knew there was no way he was so frustrated without some other story being behind it, something troubling him. We’re finding out this season what that is.
It’s a very difficult time for the character. He’s having a relationship with a girl, who hasn’t a clue that he’s gay. His mother, who saw him kissing another man, isn’t one bit happy about it. She threatened to throw him out and cut off all ties with him. He’s struggling and turning to drink a lot. He can only hide it for so long.
Actors always draw from their own experiences. I’m gay also, and I grew up in in a rural area with a small community, where everybody knew everything about everybody and had an opinion about it. The only difference with my own experience is that I had good support; I had a strong family unit that showed me love and helped me.
Still, I remember my own inner struggle with being gay. It can be the hardest part. Apart from your family and community, the first thing you have to do is accept it yourself.
People might ask why we’re doing this storyline, sure don’t we have equality now? That’s true, we do, but there’s also still a lot to do. There was a certain percentage of the country that didn’t agree with marriage equality for one reason or the other, and I think there’s still homophobia in rural areas. These storylines are important to give people an insight into the inner struggles gay people face.
Adam won’t be able to keep the secret for much longer. He has Padraic on his case now, who recognises something in him. Padraic, who is also gay, is trying to support him, but Adam has pent-up anger, and that is going to come out. It’s not going to be a happy ending. Somebody is going to end up hurt.
When you’re playing a character for so long, he becomes part of you. It’s kind of like they’re your best friend. It’s the same with other characters around you. I feel very sorry for Fia, because she hasn’t got a clue that Adam is gay. I feel sorry for Adam too. In a lot of ways he’s completely alone. Even reading the scripts, at times it’s difficult. It’s hard to read for me because it brings me back to a time when I was having similar struggles. He just needs love and acceptance, and he’s not getting that at the moment.
Ros na Rún airs on TG4 on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8.30pm, and is available on the TG4 player, tg4.ie
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