Today, more and more cricketers are becoming known for their ‘extra-curricular’ activities. As the sport’s popularity is increasing, so is that of its biggest personalities.
This Winter I had the pleasure of conducting an interview with a cricketer discussing a topic I thought I never would with a sportsman! International cricketing superstar and feisty Ireland and Northants wicketkeeper, Niall O’Brien took time out of his busy schedule to talk to me about his latest venture into the world of acting. Niall and his Irish teammate William Porterfield starred in Unforgettable, a romantic Bollywood movie due for release this year.
After a long night of partying in London the night before, a slightly hungover Niall O’ Brien was surprisingly happy to discuss his latest venture with me over the phone!
S: Hi Niall, thank you for agreeing to this interview, especially the morning after the night before!
N: No problem at all!
S: First thing’s first, how does an Irish cricketer end up in a Bollywood movie?
N: Well it came about in India during the Cricket World Cup. I got approached by a friend who is a director. She needed some people for a film and asked us if we’d be keen and after some consideration we decided why not? I just thought it would be something fun to do!
S: Did you have a big part and was there a love interest?
N: Well I was only in three scenes but they were quite pivotal scenes if you were ever to see the movie. I found it quite strange they’d put someone who’s never acted before into 3 important scenes! It wasn’t a massive part but an important part. Was there a love interest? Yes, it was a romantic movie.
S: Have you got the love interest?
N: Yes, well, yes and no! It’s kind of an interesting one. If you watch it at the start you think I’m really into this girl but I’m not really. I try to help her help her fella with his eyesight! You’d say it was an emotional angle to a certain degree.
S: Has all that acting behind the stumps prepared you for your Thespian career?
N: My acting behind the stumps?
N: <laughs> It’s a lot more difficult than anything I’ve ever had to do on the cricket pitch! I was most nervous for the first scene as it’s something I’ve never done before so I was totally out of my comfort zone! It’s a lot more nerve-wracking but thankfully I got through the first couple of lines and after that I was ok.
S: Don’t worry, that’s probably normal for first-timers! Next question, did they initially notice your Bhangra talents behind the stumps?
N: <laughs> Well I didn’t have to do any dancing unfortunately! I love having a bit of a dance!
S: Yes, that would’ve been right up your street!
N: I would’ve enjoyed a bit of Bhangra! It was actually more of an action scene I did, with a fight. More my thing really, with my cheeky attitude!
S: Did you get to do a fight scene?
N: There’s a fight scene in it yes, but I kind of stop the fight though.
S: Oh ok, that’s slightly opposite your usual character on the cricket pitch!
N: Well yes but that’s it, you’ve got to be able to evolve as an actor, you know?
S: Of course Niall! Of course! Now, do you see yourself as the next Colin Farrell?
N: I’d like to be the next Colin Farrell but I don’t think I’m going to be! You never know though! Already there’s been a bit of interest in India and they want me to do another movie in Cuba. I might not be the next Colin Farrell but there are opportunities there you know?
S: Sounds good to me! Go for it, I say! I really need to see this film.
N: You do have to watch it!
S: Is it on DVD yet?
N: It comes out Valentine’s Day.
S: Aww, romantic! Right, who’s the better actor, you or William Porterfield?
N: Me, but he did do well. The director said he was more suited to romantic movies and I was more suited to action movies!
S: I bet he loved that…
N: Ha, no he hated that!
S: Bless him! Are you interested in acting in any other film genres? Maybe a horror movie?
N: No, I’d like to be in an Irish movie if possible. An Irish, historic movie would be nice.
S: Let’s hope some director picks up on this interview then! Now, any tips for other cricketers wishing to pursue a film career?
N: Learn your lines in advance! It’s quite a pressurized situation when you’re trying to learn your lines in the morning and you’re filming a few hours later.
S: Did you forget any of your lines?
N: I forgot a few lines but generally I did pretty well.
S: Well done. Any more films in the pipeline?
N: Well there’s that one in Cuba, but I think it’s going to fall in the cricket season so I’ll have to watch. I do have to go to India in January to film some commercials.
S: Are you huge in India yet?
N: I wouldn’t say huge yet but I’d like to get my name out more – there’s a huge market for cricket players over there.
S: I can believe that! Right, last question, what’s in store for Niall O’Brien in 2012?
N: Well, first and foremost, a big, successful season for Northants. I’ve got a big Twenty20 Cricket World Cup Tournament playing for Ireland in Sri Lanka in October. It would be great to play some T20 cricket in the IPL, fingers crossed!
S: Who would you most like to play for in the IPL?
N: Oh, any team!
S: You must have a favourite?
N: No, they’re all great. My last thing is I hope to have all round good health.
S: I wish that for you too Niall! Thank you for the interview today, no one like an inquisition when they’re hungover.
N: <laughs> Anytime!
S: But you Irish can handle your drink! Good luck for this year.
N: Thanks very much!
You can see Niall in action on Thursday 5th April in the LV County Championship as Northampton kick off their county campaign away to Derbyshire. If you can’t wait until then you can always watch his film Unforgettable on Valentine’s Day!