What has been your favourite scene to play on Fair City?
The scene where Cleo invited Robert in for coffee, without blinking, he said 'I don't believe in sex on a first date'.
Robert and Cleo are Fair City's hottest couple at the moment. Could we be seeing them walking down the aisle anytime soon?
You never know what's going to happen in Carrigstown! I find out one week at a time, so don't ask me.
If you were a scriptwriter on Fair City, what storyline would you give Robert?
His Mum comes to visit: He gets hit on by his hairdresser: I don't know! I think anything you give Robert to do, could be really interesting. The hard thing is to get inside his head, and write from his point of view. I think the team of writers on Fair City have done an amazing job. I look forward to seeing what I get to do as Robert next week!
How have you settled in to life on Fair City?
Every time I think I've settled, something new comes along to wake me up. I think it's good to stay on your toes as an actor. Having said that, I've rarely felt so welcome on an acting gig, the actors and production team have been very supportive and kind to me. In particular, Una Kavanagh (Heather) and Tom O'Leary (Brendan) went out of their way to help me settle in when I first arrived. I'll always be grateful to them for that. Also, the executive producer Brigie De Courcy had kind words of support for me. Not many, but enough to help me relax. She asked me how I was getting on, and I kind of grimaced I guess, and she smiled and said 'it's fast isn't it?' and I said "yes". That helped me relax. Also, Gary Agnew, (one of Fair City's director's) was directing on my second week here and he invited me into the editing room to meet the editors and see how the show was cut together. That was a really generous gesture and again it really helped to understand how the show is made and my place in the process.
Can you describe an average day in the life of a Fair City actor?
Every day is completely different. You could write a book, and still not capture everything that happens.
What do you find the hardest aspect about working on Fair City?
The crew rotate a lot. They are terrific, hardworking professional people and they alternate all around RTÉ, so in a week they might work on any of a number of RTÉ shows. The downside for a newbie like me is that it takes a long time to get to know everyone.
If you could play any role from any other soap, who would it be and why?
Tough one! At the moment, there's no one. That said I'd love to play one of the McQueens in Hollyoaks. That family are crazy!
Who is your favourite actor outside of Fair City actors?
I have a lot of favourite actors. I think Gabriel Byrne is terrific, as is Brendan Gleeson. Of non-Irish actors, I think Ryan Gosling is one of the best of the younger actors; he makes some terrific choices and I really like his work.
We haven't heard a lot of Robert's family. Who would you like to see play Roberts parents?
I'd like to see his Mum played by Ruth McCabe. His Dad - I don't think Robert has a dad.
Robert has been seen completing jigsaw puzzles recently. Are you a fan of them?
Not really a big jigsaw head. My family kind of has a tradition where every Christmas we break open a jigsaw. I help out for a few hours here and there, and I take my share of the credit at the end, but really my sister Fiona, and my Dad, do most of the work.
What do you think of Robert's look on the show? Would your style be very different?
My style is quite different, a lot more laid back. I wear my trousers a bit lower! And I don't tuck in my shirts too much. Also I don't shave very often, I prefer having a little bit of stubble, and I wear baseball caps so that people don't recognise me much. That probably makes me sound like a bum, but anyway. I'm a jeans and shirt kinda guy.
Do many people recognise you out and about as Robert?
When I'm not wearing baseball caps. People are beginning to recognise me more and more. Mostly people smile.
What has been the general reaction to your character from the public?
In general, from what I've heard the reaction has been really, really positive. I'm grateful for that.
Who do you enjoying working with the most?
I don't want to single anyone out. I work with such a talented bunch of people. I've worked the most with Jenny Kavanagh (who plays Cleo) obviously and I've felt blessed to work with such a naturally talented woman. Also Mike Sheehan (Dean), Victor Burke (Wayne). I'm a fan of the work of so many actors on the show, Tom Hopkins (Christy), Aisling O'Neill (Carol), Hilda Fay (Tracey), and then legends like Dave Duffy (Leo), Jim Bartley (Bela), and Bryan Murray (Bob). I could go on. And there are so many others who I haven't worked with yet, Seamus Power. Gerard Byrne who played Malachy was a lovely man, generous, great to work with.
Robert has made some good friends in Dean and Wayne. Who else would you like to see him become friends with?
Ray. I think Robert and Ray could get on well. I also think he'd be a good business partner for Wayne - in the pampering industry as Wayne calls it. He'd balance up Wayne's lax approach, and Wayne is really great with Robert I think - patient, and never too busy to explain things to him.
Do you enjoy playing the Aspergers role, or do you feel it can hold you back as an actor?
I do enjoy it. It's been an absolutely new experience. It depends how you look on it. I don't think it holds me back as an actor, but it definitely frames my work in a unique way. I think soap acting, generally, is very emotional. For Robert, that doesn't need to be the case all the time. So it's a real novelty. Again, I feel blessed. He really is an amazing character if you think about it, how determined and resolute, to have fought for and achieved such a full and independent life, in spite of his difficulties in understanding people and dealing with social situations. Also, how lucky he has been to have a strong support network, and to have found someone like Cleo to love and to be loved by. I think Cleo is such a brave and special character too, to see through what others might see as surface flaws.
Do you personally know anyone with Aspergers? Are you modelling your character on that person?
I worked for a few summers at a summer camp in the US with children and adults with various mental and physical disabilities, and some of them had Aspergers syndrome. They were a lot more challenged than Robert socially, but extraordinary people. One of them couldn't speak, and was so painfully shy he really couldn't communicate much at all, but he wrote amazing poetry. I haven't based Robert on anyone in particular, but that experience definitely helped me.
You played Alex/Chris Walsh in The Clinic. What was it like to play a gay character on the show, and did you have a good experience working on The Clinic?
It was really interesting and challenging playing a gay character. I had a great experience on it. It was my first properly paid job as an actor and I learned so much. I made some great friends too. Dominic Mafham who played Dan is a great guy. We used to play pitch and putt after work. And Rachel Pilkington who played Keelin the physio, so many lovely people.
Do you work in the theatre at all?
I've done a good bit of theatre, here in Ireland and a little in London, but I've concentrated on screen stuff for the last few years. I love theatre though. Particularly in intimate spaces where you can do really subtle work. The last play I did was a German play called Mr Kolpert. It was great. The director was a young up and coming guy called Tom Creed who is one of the most talented theatre directors I've worked with. That was a thrill. He gave us actors a lot of leeway to decide our own moves, and try some really risky things. For me I got to do some things that were very non-theatrical, not in the textbook. I loved that.
If you weren't an actor what would be your dream job?
Dream job? Director; I'd love to direct Fair City one day.
What made you want to join the acting profession?
Watching Home and Away when I was a teenager. I was really shy, and I saw how the girls loved the actors in it. I thought that'd be great wouldn't it. I thought becoming an actor would make me less shy. I don't know if it has to be honest!
Thank you for your questions.