Fair City star Rodrigo Ternevoy on Cristiano’s return to Carrigstown and LGBTQ+ representation

The openly gay actor will be back on our screens next month and feels proud to be making a contribution to LGBTQ+ media representation in Ireland.

A bearded man leaning on a lamp post
Image: Hazel Coonagh

Fair City star Rodrigo Ternevoy made headlines when his character Cristiano was mentally and physically abused by his boyfriend Will in late 2019. Now, after a brief comeback at the end of last year, Cristiano returns to Carrigstown and Rodrigo cannot wait to get started.

He chatted with GCN about the return, LGBTQ+ representation and the difficulties of the pandemic for those in the arts.

We know you’re going to be back on our screens soon with Fair City but how has it been for you in the pandemic at a time where the arts and film industry has been struggling?

I can’t wait to go back to work I must say. Lockdown has been too long for all of us at this stage so it feels really nice to be able to go back filming Fair City. My last day on set was in December 2020, almost six months ago.

It is really upsetting to see such a vibrant industry, always full of energy and creativity going through hard times like this. The majority of people working on TV, cinema and theatre are freelancers, and no doubt they suffered with the lack of jobs. I can only hope that with the vaccination of most of the population in Ireland and the UK that things start to pick up again. 

What does it mean to you as an actor and a gay man to play an LGBTQ+ role where the focus isn’t on a struggle with coming out etc. as it often is in TV shows and films?

That’s a very interesting question. Most of LGBTQ+ storylines on TV and cinema are revolving around the coming out of a character but RTÉ decided to look past it and portray a struggle that just happens to be playing out in a gay relationship.

I think this was a welcome choice because it avoids the standard stereotype and tropes. It also subtly challenges notions of male invulnerability; an unhelpful emanation of toxic masculinity. 

As a general point I don’t think LGBTQ+ storylines are portrayed enough or well enough on screen. No doubt that we are better represented within the industry these days but we’re not quite there yet. As a gay actor playing a gay character on screen I feel very proud that somehow I am making my small contribution to the LGBTQ+ community. 

What has it been like to see the reaction to that domestic abuse storyline for your character?

The episode when Will attacked Cristiano for the first time back in 2019 was one with the highest views that year. People reached out to me privately through social media after that episode and within a week I had over 400 messages from audience members telling me their struggles, their experiences.

I was overwhelmed and it took me a good few weeks to reply to every single person. I wanted to make sure they knew they were heard and that I cared about them.

What do you hope to see for your character in his return to Carrigstown and do you have any hints on what the new storylines might be?

I really hope to see justice for Cristiano, he has a golden heart, he is loved by all the people in Carrigstown. What happened to him is just a reflection of what happens everyday to hundreds of people in real life. I hope Will pays for what he did so that Cristiano can move on in life and hopefully find someone who truly makes him happy.

I know I will be back for a very strong and dramatic storyline but unfortunately I am not able to say what it is just yet. At this moment in time my guess is as good as yours. I only get the scripts about a week before we start filming and I am looking forward to receiving them to see what is really going to happen in Carrigstown for Cristiano!

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