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Cork Profile

John Ryan Howard, actor

Thursday, 21st March, 2019 9:36am

Name and position: John Ryan Howard, actor

Age: 32

Lives: Grange, Douglas

Family: Parents Kathleen and John, sisters Catherine and Claire

Pets: None at the moment

Favourite thing about Cork: Tara's Tea Room, Cafe Torino, Bleu Bistro and Hayfield Manor!

Least favourite thing about Cork: Lack of street parking, excessively wide new footpaths, the weather!

One thing you'd change about Cork: More street parking, more outdoor seating covered and more cinemas.

When you were small, what did you want to be as a grown-up?

Well from aged ten it was either a film director or a film actor - specifically of horror films. Before that probably Bret 'Hitman' Hart!

Tell us about your progression to your role today:

I started by making homemade horror movies with friends from about ten to 16. I started taking proper acting classes with an actress from Ballykissangel while attending CIT at 17, then took part-time acting classes with the Gaiety School of Acting for a couple of years before doing a few months at CSN College.

At aged 20 I enrolled in Kinsale Further Education College for a two-year full-time acting programme directed by Belinda and Ian Wild. I learned an awful lot there and started doing a lot of theatre with other directors outside of the course. I started doing student films and short films and taking film acting classes with the likes of Shane Munro, Margie Haber from Margie Haber Studios in Los Angeles and film casting directors. I booked a couple of TV pilots directed by Gary Wade in Cork, followed by my first TV commercial for Bord Gáis, directed by IFTA-winning director Lorcan Finnegan.

In February 2018, my debut feature film ‘Beyond the Woods’, a horror directed by Sean Breathnach, where I play one of the lead roles, was released internationally on DVD and video on demand (VOD) in HMV, Walmart and on the Sky store, Amazon Prime, iTunes etc. Fortunately, the film quickly got rave reviews from some top film critics, including being recommended in Empire magazine by veteran film critic Kim Newman.

Before distribution, ‘Beyond the Woods’ won Best Feature awards in both London and Montreal, and I recently got the news it has been nominated in the 'Best Thriller' category at the National Film Awards in London, where 1.9 million people voted for the list of nominees, and where Beyond The Woods is the only Irish film nominated! We'll be flying over to the televised award ceremony on 27 March, where Michael Caine will be receiving an award for lifetime contribution to cinema.

After ‘Beyond the Woods’ I was very fortunate to get offered a role in a second horror feature film ‘Gate Way’, directed by IFTA-nominated director Niall Owens. Shot primarily around Ballinlough, the film is a psychological horror feature film with an outstanding cast including Tim Creed (‘Maze’), Dafhyd Flynn (‘Michael Inside’) and Jimmy Smallhorne (RTE's ‘Taken Down’).

What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you do?

The excitement of getting an important audition or an offer of a great job, and working with amazing directors who have a clear vision of what they want, and great actors who are a pleasure to work with on and off screen. Also, the amazing laughs you can have on a set working with creative people who have a great sense of humour!

I also love the complete immersion in the work where real life ceases to exist. Working on ‘Beyond the Woods’, the cast and crew had to stay in two isolated houses, one of which was surrounded by 70 acres of woods. There was no popping into a café for a break. Director Sean Breathnach likened it to a working retreat, and we filmed for up to 20 hours some days. The ‘day’ could finish at 8am, then bed for five hours (if you're lucky) and up again until 7/8am, running and screaming at 5am with only the cows in the distance for company! It was a very unique and rewarding experience.

What motivates you?

The desire to work with great actors and directors and to feel creatively challenged. The desire to work on films I would love to watch now, or the type of movies that captured my imagination as a child.

What advice would you give to your 15-year-old self?

Start taking acting classes sooner - for the joy it brought into my life for one.

If you weren't in the job you have, what would you be doing?

I really don't know. A lollipop lady!

What is your greatest life or career achievement to date?

So far I'd have to say the tremendous success of ‘Beyond the Woods’. Seeing it recommended in the world's top movie magazine by a legendary film critic, and it being nominated at the National Film Awards in London. I'm still in disbelief over that. Seeing myself on the DVD cover on shelves in shops as well, as it used to be something I imagined as a child.

Who has had the biggest influence on you in your life?

My parents, U2 and Bret 'Hitman' Hart!

What is the dream life now?

Well right now is a great place to be. The dream life is to be in the position of being able to pick and choose what acting projects I want to work on and who I want to work with. Also, to be able to do three or four movies every year, and more in between!

How do you switch off?

Meeting friends or family for tea and a laugh in a hotel or a café, atching a great U2 concert on DVD or Blu-ray with a beer, or watching some classic Bret 'Hitman' Hart matches. And of course, throwing on a great classic horror film!

What is your favourite Cork memory?

Maybe meeting my mum in the old Bewley's café in Cork city on a half-day from school on Wednesdays on the odd occasion. And oing to the old Capitol cinema to see the latest release as a child, like ‘Home Alone 2’ with my family, or ‘Jurassic Park’ with my sister Catherine.

Do you have a favourite quote or motto?

‘I'd rather be at the bottom of a ladder I want to climb rather than the top of one I don't.’

When are you at your happiest?

Acting in a horror movie, or watching a great horror movie with family or friends. Being at U2 live in Dublin at the 3Arena with ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ taking the roof off. Having just booked a great acting job or being out with a family member or friend laughing over an eternal pot of tea!

Any regrets?

No important ones.

What is your hidden talent?

According to my sister Catherine, PR! According to my mother, voice-over acting!

What might we be surprised to know about you?

I have an obsession with foxes.

Anything else you'd like to share with us?

If you'd like to support a Cork-made feature film, you can vote for 'Beyond the Woods' in the best thriller category at nationalfilmawards.org/voting/ by just registering your email address and voting!

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