EXCLUSIVE: An interview with actor Ronan Raftery

Best known for featuring in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them and The Seige of Jadotville, actor Ronan Raftery talks to Mandy News about his experiences working on the new hit movie Mortal Engines

4th January 2019
/ By James Collins


Please tell us how you got involved in acting, and how it turned from a love/passion into a career?

I was twelve and playing the 1st Witch in a school production of Macbeth. I remember in the final week of rehearsals we all had to stay very late after school, order in pizza and desperately try to get the play into shape. I had very few friends and had never really fit in anywhere, but I remember that week, getting to know some of the guys from different years, and all pulling together to get this amazing show ready. 

I remember thinking “ah so these are my friends”. Later on I went to university, joining the Drama Society in UCDublin, where I think I did around 15 plays during my three years. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by a whole group of people who wanted to go into theatre or film as a job - they weren’t just there for somewhere to drink on Tuesdays... 

As I finished Uni I knew I wanted to move to London and make a go of it there, but felt I needed to training to focus myself a bit, to be temporarily immersed in a world where nothing but acting matters. So I auditioned for RADA and started the following September, and I’ve been an actor ever since.

How did you get involved with Mortal Engines

I’m afraid its nothing more interesting than being invited for an audition and getting the offer! I think there were 2 lengthy phone calls with the producers and about three auditions in total, the final one with Christian, our director, and all the producers. I was pretty nervous, but they were so welcoming and positive when I walked in the room that I totally relaxed. 

I read the scene a few times, it went fine, then we chatted about Arctic exploration for about 20 minutes! It was slightly surreal being the focus of attention in a room with a group of people who have about 12 Oscars between them...

What was it like working on the project?

It was incredible. I was shooting in New Zealand for around 3 months, running around the most amazing and massive sets I have ever seen. Whole city blocks and Tube stations, giant vibrating bridges, huge aircraft, and sections of a floating city. The production design on this film is jaw-dropping - I remember being about 20 pages into the novel when I was prepping and thinking “only these guys could make this Movie” it’s like Phillip Reeve wrote it for them! 

The Characters all leap off the page instantly and the political backdrop for the whole world is terrifyingly prescient: Socially tiered cities, giant walls and refugees, the leaders of the people turning out to be manically hell bent on a future that will probably destroy us all...

You have worked in both TV and feature film, what are the biggest differences/challenges you find between the two?

By the end of any job, I’m usually itching to switch media. After three or four months doing the same play every night, the pressure of doing a new scene every day in a film sounds like bliss. But having done a few TV shows and films back to back I’m dying to get back on stage. The old cliche of nothing beating a live performance rings very true sometimes. I also miss being in a troupe of actors, showing off in front of an audience every night. Everyone turns up at the same time, puts in the same hours, and has a drink in the bar after. 

The green room in a theatre is my happy place.

What are you working at the moment, what's coming next for you?

I just finished filming a TV show here in London called The Rook. Its a paranormal spy-thriller following a young woman who works for a strange branch of the secret service. She has her memory wiped and wakes up surrounded by 8 mutilated bodies, she knows she did it and that someone is trying to kill her. So the first season follows her as she tries to piece her life back together and stay alive. Its looking pretty awesome so far!

Next, I’m doing some press for Mortal Engines and other important things, like sitting down and drinking wine.

What advice do you have for up and coming actors?

Well if they’re up and coming they’re probably fine! But if they’re struggling then the tired advice of “sticking with it” is the main one I’m afraid.

All I would add is that sticking with it doesn’t mean standing still and waiting for it to start happening for you. Write with friends, collaborate, do some awful play in someone’s shed, just stay engaged with it on any level you can. You also have to keep evolving and mixing things up - If you’ve been on 8 auditions and got nowhere, change up how you’re approaching auditions.

I remember going through a rough period and writing down a list of every single thing I like to do while prepping an audition or self-tape. Then for the next one I did the direct opposite of each, just pushing myself out of my comfort zone and seeing if anything interesting happened. It’s only a small thing but it keeps you active and engaged in a new way. 

I talk to too many actors who are kinda set in their ways which makes no sense to me. Part of being an actor is being impulsive and reckless, so I would incorporate as much of that into your life and you (and your loved ones) can tolerate.

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Fiona Thompson


Refreshingly honestinterview Ronan. So glad you found where you belong! My father was offered a place at Rada. Victorian views of his family didn’t allow. Sad as I think this is where he belonged too.