Chris O’Dowd has dropped his kids off at school, he’s taken the dog for a walk around Hyde Park, he’s got a few hours off, he’s back in London; life, by the sounds of it, is great.
‘The weather here in London today is stunning…
‘After being so caged for so f***ing long it feels good to have a little bit of space.’
Chatting with Metro.co.uk on a blissful London day, the actor is feeling good about being back in the country for a few months, before he returns to Los Angeles with wife Dawn O’Porter and their two sons, Art and Valentine, for 2022.
‘Going into town is so nice. I like LA as a city, but it’s very different, it’s like a bunch of suburbs. It’s not centralised,’ he explains. ‘I was lucky enough to be working on the West End during summer, that kind of buzz, walking around Soho, down by the Embankment on a Friday evening. I miss that. I miss the hustle and bustle of London life, going over the bridges of south London. I lived in south London for 10 years…the night bus home – not necessarily the night bus home, but going over the bridges is something you take for granted.’
He pauses before adding: ‘When it’s f***ing drizzling at 9am on a Tuesday it’s less romantic.’
It’s not all play and no work today, though: the actor has teamed up with Redbreast Irish Whiskey for Robin Redbreast Day, to raise awareness of the brand’s mission to help keep the common birds common. For each view the campaign video receives on YouTube, 25 cents will be donated to BirdLife International to help continue its commitment of keeping the robin and other common birds safe for future generations.
Seeing as he’s working with the brand right after starring in a movie named after a bird, The Starling, alongside Bridesmaids co-star Melissa McCarthy, there’s a real ornithological theme going on with Chris at the moment.
‘I love birds, I’ve always loved birds, long affinity with birds…also with Redbreast Whiskey,’ he laughs. ‘As inept as the phrase is for the situation, it felt like a good way to kill two birds with one stone. Which is absolutely against the intention of BirdLife international.’
Getting serious, he continues: ‘It felt like a lovely way to help out birds; I did a little bit of reading on it and found 40 of the most common species of birds, the population is declining and that doesn’t feel right, does it? And we’re partly to blame, so if we can put a few quid back in… and it is a drink that I like, so, that’s kind of how I got involved. It’s a bit of a no-brainer.’
The guy is busy – not only is he rallying for the birds, and releasing bird-themed films, he’s just also just come off the stage after starring alongside Anna Maxwell Martin in the West End’s constellations.
Most recently on the screen, he teamed back up with several-time co-star Melissa, for the absolutely heart-wrenching The Starling. He plays Jack, a man left bereft by the death of his young daughter with Melissa’s Lily to Sids, and in coming to terms with the loss is seeking treatment in a mental health facility.
As a dad himself, Chris concedes working on the film was ‘fairly brutal’, which feels like an understatement.
He says: ‘I found getting yourself to a place where you are somebody who has lost a child is a very dark place to go when you’ve got a child. We’d just had our second and shaking it off at the end of the day was tricky enough.
‘You had to get into it and then you’re f***ing in it and you’re going through this mindset, “god what if?” trying to piece together what your head would look like if the unimaginable happened.
‘So in that regard, it was tricky. But the script was strong and the people I was working with were lovely, so that made it easier.’
While Chris has worked with Melissa on many a project, including 2014’s St Vincent, it may be 2011’s Bridesmaids that rings loudest for fans of both actors. And comparing their characters in The Starling to Melissa’s bolshy Megan and Chris’s good cop Nathan in the Kirsten Wiig comedy comes with a very long bow.
There is no way this is an alternate universe, we joke, as Chris adds: ‘I don’t think there is any situation where those people turn into those people.’
Another one of the actor’s most iconic roles for many a loyal fan will be The IT Crowd’s Roy Trenneman, who remains a storied fixture in meme culture alongside Richard Ayoade’s Maurice Moss.
It’s a role that still brings feelings of fondness for Chris, despite the catchphrase ‘Have you tried turning it off and on again’ continuing to follow him since the show’s finale in 2013 (evidently, we’re not helping the cause there by bringing it up now…).
Chris muses of the iconic phrase: ‘I really have to go onto the internet with the appreciation that is just about to happen. I can never complain about anything not working, ever. A kettle, anything, a relationship, forget about it. I can’t talk about it.
‘I love all the memes and the stuff, every time Facebook goes down and suddenly there are memes about Roy going around again. It was fun making that show, so it feels nice that’s still circulating in the maelstrom.’
Recently the show hit headlines once more after actor Matt Berry – who played Douglas Reynholm – spoke about the criticism of a scene involving his character which was branded transphobic and removed from streaming service Britbox.
‘I think we’re a lot more sensitive to it now, for lots of reasons,’ Chris suggests when asked whether he’s more mindful of content these days. ‘You have to remember before streamers and everything, it felt like you made something, people watched it and then it went away. It was much more of a disposable culture in terms of the output on TV, and not only does it go away, it’s for one region.’
He continues: ‘Now you make a show and it goes around the world. I think people are definitely more sensitive to controversy than they have been, for good reason.
‘We’ve probably been too insensitive before. This is, I suppose, for us to be mindful of eachother, that’s what you have to do.’
One thing Chris may not have been banking on was the reaction to Gal Gadot’s famous Imagine video, though, in which he sang a couple lines of John Lennon’s classic alongside Dawn and a host of other A-listers.
The reaction. Well, it’s safe to say it went down about the same as when Boris introduced the Rule of Six.
Luckily, Chris has a sense of humour about the continued references to the clip, which, it’s fair to say, lives on in pandemic infamy, laughing: ‘I think that’s nailed onto my back, ‘til my last breath.
‘Maybe I just take two lines, is that what we sang? Two lines of it. My cross to bear.’
Credit: Original article published here.