We put some of your questions to Geoff:
Is it awkward to film 'those scenes' with Jo?
How could it be awkward to do scenes with the lovely Rachel Sarah Murphy? She's gas! (As she'd say herself) - In working on romantic scenes or indeed any scene with someone you haven't worked much with before there's always an initial learning curve - as an actor you should be learning something new from every actor you work with because everybody reacts differently. Much of the early process can become somewhat technical but the chemistry needs to be created in rehearsal and ultimately, acting is about trust and playing to tell a story. By the time we come to film these scenes we know, together with the directors what we want to achieve from each scene and thankfully our beloved crew are the ultimate in professionalism, facilitating the actors the space and respect needed to do our thing! I note though that it came very naturally to Rachel!
If you were in the same situation as Tommy in real life, who would you choose -Jo or Judith?
Tommy has a weakness, apparently - he loves women. Not that he goes out of his way to seek them out, you understand, but he loves their company. He loves the excitement of the chase, which maybe he never grew out of and perhaps naively doesn't know when to stop the game. Yet the safety of a lifetime in a loving bond with someone is something I think Tommy values above all else and would be foolish to jeopardise!
Were I in the same situation in real life, I would likely lose several useful body parts!
Which of your 'children' do you prefer to work with - Neasa, Caoimhe, Dearbhla or Zak?
I became so comfortable straight away working with and being around Aoibhín, Aoibheann, Kerrie and Kevin. These guys are wonderful actors and can and will "improv" your socks off if you let them. Having been through the process of auditioning and initial workshops through to filming, it literally would be like asking which of your kids is your favourite. I love them all dearly - and equally! Not advisable to go there!
Which of the Dillon children is most like Tommy and why?
I like to think they get all their best traits from their old man although Zak's hurling needs a little work. Neasa is a gregarious and independent person just like her father and will always be baby numero uno. Caoimhe seems to be quite the social butterfly too, there's also a sense of rebellion and volatility to Caoimhe that should be all too familiar to Tommy. All of them have a healthy sense of adventure which they don't lick off the floor!
Which of the Dillon children is least like Tommy and why?
We have seen that Dearbhla maybe considers things more carefully than the rest and is perhaps also more measured in her responses though not without a quick comeback as required. Tommy by contrast is a much more impulsive individual. This may explain why Tommy's youngest daughter is so precious to him. Does she remind him most of Judy?
There may be hope still.
Judith may be the chief breadwinner, but does Tommy provide any dough for the family?
Tommy doesn't possess the greatest of business acumen; he lost the farm in an ill-advised property development. However, not one to sit around he will always find something to have a go at. The Farmers Market has become a growing success (pardon the pun) - which he has put a lot of work in to - and is also now working with a company offering garden landscaping and tree-felling services - so he's doing his best and making a good contribution. Tommy is an outdoor type and wouldn't do well as a stay at home Dad with Judy as sole earner despite his best efforts.
When is your birthday?
I'm a Sagittarian if that counts for anything - Late December back in... many moons ago!
Are you obsessed with Kilkenny hurling in real life or is there another sport in your life?
I love hurling. It's one of the fastest, most skilful and physical games on the planet and beautiful to watch being played well. Although I didn't play to any great level myself one of my fondest memories as a 14 year old is of being in there, with my father, who was a beautiful hurler, in his day up there at Galway minor level, knocking a sliothar around with some of our cousins in a field in Gorteeny Co. Galway on a warm summers evening. Pure gold! We would usually have to watch Eddie Kehir and the boys take the spoils back then though.
I was lucky enough to have played lots of sports when I was younger; soccer, rugby, squash, judo and table-tennis at Junior International level amongst others. I am now a keen if average golfer and I run a bit - comparatively slowly, but did manage the Dublin marathon in 2004 which I am proud of.
Of course I now have to confess to not being a Kilkenny man - oops, but have of course been taking a keen interest of late. G'wan de Cats!!
Do you have any pets?
One dog - Sam; one rabbit - Peter!; two tanks full of fish - not named individually; two guinea pigs - Alex and Nibble; and a partridge in a pear tree... I think!
Do you have any interest in gardening?
Yes! My mother was a keen gardener and knew the Latin names for an extraordinary number of garden flowers and shrubs. In keeping with the principle that true gardeners never buy a plant she would often nick a slip from something she fancied while passing slowly by in the car! I did in the last few years take a keen interest in the garden, growing veg particularly and organically of course. It is however time consuming and often weeds and slugs would get the better of me, but really worth it for the taste!
Do you have a background in farming?
I'd say I come from a long line of reprobates rather than farmers. The lineage includes teachers, solicitors and the like. The more creative side from blacksmiths, electricians, carpenters and includes Gerry Martin whom RTE did a documentary about many years ago entitled "The last of the Irish fiddle makers".
I do remember at some point in my childhood cutting hay with a scythe - and can lay claim to a maternal grandfather, who was a farmer on the Galway/Roscommon border known locally as "The Gentleman", apparently more to do with how he dealt with people than the size of his holding.
Do you put on an accent or is that your own?
See confession above. I'm actually a Dub! But not even a "Norrier" (Northsider) at that!
Although I do have relatives in the North, South, East, West and right in the middle of the country, for Tommy's accent, while there are certainly elements within my own speech patterns, I do lean on my rural roots a bit!
What would you do if you had a daughter like Caoimhe?Celebrate! She's an intelligent, articulate, gorgeous, feisty independent young woman. Sure, she has a few difficulties at the moment, don't we all? I'm sure it's simply a phase of her life that she's going through and will emerge the other side soon, won't she?.....Won't she? Funnily enough I have a couple of daughters in real life that haven't yet reached the age to have quite such complex lives, although they do have their own issues and are well able to voice their feelings! I am grateful to them and for them every day.
What would you do if you were Judith, if she finds out about the affair?
What affair? Shhhh... Women are wonderful yet complicated creatures - this I know - I've been surrounded by them my whole life, for example I have 5 sisters. No, not a misprint, five! Yet I still cannot predict how a woman will react in a given circumstance!
If I were Judith I think my reaction would depend on a number of factors: Have we been here before?; is the "you know what" (affair..shh) over?; was it in any way a serious threat to the marriage?; can I believe what Tommy is telling me?; how clear is my own conscience?..."Pack your bags" is a big statement.
Tommy and Judith seem to have a very strong connection. Do you think that will see them through his infidelity?
Relationships can be long lasting for a variety of reasons: complete compatibility; openness and forgiveness; fear; for the sake of children; surviving on external interests, etc.
I think Tommy and Judith are two wonderfully conceived and written characters, even at this early stage there's a huge complexity to their relationship - I think underneath everything they really do need each other, is that enough? There is so much about the Dillon family that we simply don't know yet!
Have you always been a Casanova?
Emer, my long-suffering real life wife has just picked herself up from the floor after her laughing fit!
No, the Casanova family lived above the chipper down the road, but I used to hang around with the lads a bit and picked up a few tips.
If you had to work as anything else but an actor, what would you work as?
I spent enough years working in some very strange industries prior to being lucky enough to go into acting full time and worked with some wonderful and some not quite so wonderful people. I am grateful to them, teachers one and all! I am also so grateful that I now get to work doing something that I love.
If I had to choose another profession I would have perhaps gone into music in some capacity, this because I don't think my golf game ever would have been sharp enough! -There have been suggestions that given the acting, my love of a good argument for its own sake and a family background in law that I may have made a reasonable Barrister!
What other roles have you played?
Over the years I've been everything from a guy opening a fridge in a Squeez orange juice commercial to Eamon the sound engineer from Oscar winning Irish movie "Once"; I've played Jason the Argonaut, I've been Tony in West Side Story and more recently Dick Cassidy in "Zonad" a space oddity - the great Odyssey continues....
What has been your favourite role as an actor?
I had an opportunity many years ago to play Gar Private from Brian Friel's beautiful play "Philadelphia, Here I Come!" which has some wonderfully knife-twisting, emotionally raw moments - a fantastic thing to throw out to an audience and dare a response - those little silences, loved it!
By contrast I loved playing Count Yousekevitch of Kulyenchikov in Neil Simon's play "Fools". Just unadulterated fun!
How have you settled into Dillon family life?
Experience has taught me to just do what I'm told most of the time, I really can't get a word in edgeways anyhow but the earplugs help.
It's amazing how comfortable we have all become with each other in such a short space of time - the girls generally call Catherine Byrne (Judith) and me Mum and Dad. I have been getting some accusing looks lately though, I wonder if they know anything!
Of course while our story lines will mean that we get to work with everybody in the show at various times which is great, we do miss them on weeks that they're not there. When we're all back in together we'll be in and out of dressing rooms rehearsing scenes - but also catching up and occasionally frowning upon stories of their latest exploits - at which point we may offer the occasional pearl of wisdom. Why it's just like parenting, pesky kids!
What has your first year on Fair City been like?
Following the casting process I arrived in RTE reception on a Saturday morning last July and was introduced to my wife of 25 years and my 4 children! We were there for a workshop day at the end of which we were to be a family. What a welcome. That proved to be a really valuable day to us and I'm grateful for the insight of Brigie de Courcy and the show's producers in affording us that opportunity. Catherine Byrne has said that our faces stayed in her head over that weekend, which is so true, and we arrived on the Monday morning for a script reading united and ready. We started filming the next day!
Four episodes a week requires great effort from a large team of people who care deeply about what they're doing and while it seemed a little daunting at the outset you find a rhythm very quickly. There's a great writing team on the show and it's wonderful to have new material to work with all the time to try and provide something relevant. There are many hard long days and it can be difficult sustaining energy and that's when you need support and I really landed on my feet in working so regularly and closely with Catherine Byrne -one of the most generous actors and indeed people I've ever met.
Now all has changed, utterly! I am now one of those well known faces, "Howrya Tommy, how's the veg growing".
I walked into a pub in Co. Clare last year with real life wife and without hesitation or introduction the barman said "Your daughter was in here yesterday!" Aoibhín Garrihy (Neasa) had been in the day before. All part of the fun!
Thanks for your great questions.