SEAN DELANEY [KILLING EVE]

WORDS BY IRVIN RIVERA

Newcomer Sean Delaney is definitely an artist to watch out for.

The budding actor who is currently making waves in TV on Killing Eve and on Broadway in the play The Ferryman is ready and just getting started.

In this exclusive interview, read through Delaney’s stories about his acting career, what inspired him to take acting, Killing Eve, The Ferryman and the pros and cons of having an accent.

Sean Delaney’s obvious dedication and professionalism manifested when he braved the crisp, cold, gusty late-spring wind in Manhattan. Despite the early calltime on a weekend and a Broadway show to perform with in the afternoon, the Killing Eve actor made it to our photoshoot and interview. 

Sean’s accent immediately reveals that he’s not from New York. His Irish accent may make him sound a bit like he’s from Boston but his English accent remains dominant. In this conversation, we talked a bit about accents and how nailing an American accent can create a dramatic shift in your career.

PHOTOGRAPHER:  IRVIN RIVERA , STYLING:  AVERY CEFRE

PHOTOGRAPHER: IRVIN RIVERA, STYLING: AVERY CEFRE

Tell us about yourself:

I grew up in London but I grew up in a big Irish household.

My mom was born and raised in Ireland. My dad’s parents moved over from Ireland when he was maybe 4 years old.

 

Has acting always been your passion since you were young?

No. Not at all. Not yet. I think it was something that really hit me not until my late teens and even then I wasn’t quite sure of what I enjoy.

I was always obsessed with film and television but I always assumed that it was just a distraction from schoolwork for a long time.


 

I feel like you explore the different parts of yourself that you would never really ever go to. And find someone that you can either relate or not relate to- that’s the best thing about acting.


webSEAN_DELANEY_ABOOKOF_.jpg

What is the film/TV show that inspired you to do acting?

I remember first watching the TV series BAND OF BROTHERS on HBO.

I think, it was one of the first things that came from the states to the UK in a big way.

I remember seeing that and seeing loads of young actors (who I thought were young American actors but end up actually being British) and realizing that you couldn’t be defined by where you’re from and what your history was and all that kind of stuff.  

I think that was the first time that I started seeing it as being an accessible job.

I always associate acting as something that you have to start doing as a kid or something that you just get stuck in to as a young child.

But after a couple of years, I realized those were just excuses for not doing it.

When did it start for you? Did you get a formal training?

I did. I just wanted to go in to acting very late and that was my parents’ fear when I told them.

Shortly after I told them that I wanted to go in to acting, I had to start applying for Drama schools in London. It took me a couple of years of trying to get in and sitting down with my parents and discussing the turn of events. From then, I always kind of knew that acting was it. So after my third year auditioning for drama schools, I actually got in to RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts) in London.

 

What’s your most memorable audition experience?

Isn’t it funny that whenever you think of memorable you always think of the bad ones first?

 I had an audition for a TV series that I won’t name.

I had a really good relationship with this casting director who looked after me quite a lot after I left drama school and he dropped me in to this infamous TV series. The script wasn’t great and it’s quite really difficult to learn. There’s a lot of information, a lot of names and a lot of pronunciations but I really worked hard in it. I worked for two days before and I barely slept.

We did a readthrough of it just to test how the lines went down and I nailed it. We should’ve filmed that scene right there and then. And you’d think I can get through that scene and that’s just only one of three scenes.

Halfway through, I stumbled and asked if I can go again and everyone smiles and said “it’s fine. Everyone makes mistakes.” And then it got worse and worse.

 Suddenly I couldn’t get past the first line and the director suddenly got more and more impatient with me and asked me if I wanted to go away and learn it.

It’s like a passive-aggressive way in front of these producers and casting directors.

You know I got it cause I’ve done it to you already. Just give me one more go.

And he goes “All right, do you wanna get it right then?” in a super aggressive tone.

I was mortified.  

Suddenly I am red-faced. I do it out of aggression and that was pretty traumatic.

Funny enough it was something really similar to Kenny from Killing eve.

It was an IT person working in a special ops force in the Middle-East.

So when the audition for Killing Eve came up, I was so convinced “This has happened before. I’m not good at this stuff. I had such the most traumatic experience.”  

The script turned out to be a better version of that. Basically more of the same isn’t it?

What do you like the most about being an actor?

There are a number of things.

 I’m just starting to discover now the beauty of being able to explore a story and a person and their relationships over a temporary period of time and having to drop that and then move on to something else after six months or so.

The fact that you get to go to all these places and get paid to explore the world enjoying something you’re really passionate about is something to be thankful about. 

Usually, it tends to be a story of people going into acting to quickly get an escape from themselves; they explore other people to get away from their own life.

I feel like the more and more I do it it’s the opposite actually.

I feel like you explore the different parts of yourself that you would never really ever go to. And find someone that you can either relate or not relate to- that’s the best thing about acting.

 

ABO SEAN DELANEY 05.jpg

Let’s talk about Kenny. How did you land the role of Kenny?

It would’ve been ten months since I last acted professionally and one of my agents came through with this script.

I went straight though the pdf file before realizing the title and everything. And when I watched the playback for the first time, I knew that it was going to be both genius and quirky .

I read the first two episodes that we’re given and it was exactly that.

With two episodes to go by with a couple of scenes, there was no initial audition with Harry Bradbeer, the director, and these two casting directors. I had a really fun time.

I had no idea how it went. I just knew it was enjoyable to do.

As typically, whenever you enjoy the audition, it turns for me, you never see the script again.  

But there was another round of callback with producers and I knew this tape was being sent over to the states to BBC America for preview to see.

Over the course of the first audition to the time that something came through it was maybe three, four weeks. And then just over month before we started shooting, and everything happened really quickly and as things happened, the script changed immensely over that time and even the plot of my character changed. 

So as to describe the madness behind Killing Eve-

On my third day filming I was with Fiona Shaw and Sandra Oh trying not to shit myself (still).

There was a joke made by me and Fiona Shaw like looking at each other and doing the same manners. Then three days into filming, they came with the idea of Fiona being my mom in the series and they went off, wrangle a couple of people and changed stuff.

This must be two weeks into shooting the first two episodes. They changed the story around for the sake of Kenny.

How was it to work alongside the cast?

Incredible.

My TV experience is very limited before dong that and having to watch how much talent is there is amazing.

Well, Respect to Sandra obviously is one thing.

 

You spent a lot of time with her right?

Yeah for sure. The best way that I can describe Sandra is that no matter how small a part you play in Killing Eve, if you’re on set with her that day she will come up  at the beginning of the day and make sure that you’re sorted and you get everything you need and have to be able to do your work.

She’s one of the most incredibly generous and empathetic, hardworking actresses I’ve ever met. Her workload is unbelievable and you wouldn’t realize how hard she works and how much work she had to put in not until you take a step back and assess it for a bit. As soon as she’s on-set it’s not about how hard she’s worked, it’s about that day and the other people involved. It’s an incredible experience, really.

What do you like the most about Kenny’s character?

What I like the most about Kenny is that he’s someone who works all the time and who is actively working and struggling to understand, one what he’s feeling and two what people around him are feeling at any time whilst being in a high stake situation.

He’s the kind of person, the last person who should be working for any kind of MI6 or any kind of defense agency at all. He’s there because of his natural abilities not for his social ability to handle it and I think it’s an incredibly good dynamic to have someone who is incredibly good at their job to never be comfortable in there.

 

What’s in store for Kenny in Season 2?

Season 2 is where his relationships with his mother and his work and his friendship with Eve get strained emotionally more than the first season.

I felt like the first season is a lot about information and discovering the world that they’re in and who they’re up against. But this time around, it’s more about the personal ramifications of the trail and when your personal life meets work and how that doesn’t work out all the time especially when people’s lives are on the line. It’s difficult to be professional.

 

Now let’s talk about your Broadway show The Ferryman. Tell us about your character Michael?

Michael is a 15 year-old farmer who’s the son of an exiled IRA member who retired for the sake of his family. He’s the second oldest brother. He’s mischievous. He’s always up for a laugh but he’s fully aware that he got a family history that have to be suppressed for the sake of family survival.

So The Ferryman play about when that history comes back to form that family. It’s a family drama.

It’s set in 1981 in the North of Ireland.

 

What is your dream role?

I don’t have a dream role. I always watch people doing incredible work. I would love to have been a part of that, or play that role or work with that actor or director.

I never look beyond the job that I’m currently doing or the job that I’m trying to get.

I’ve been really lucky especially with the success of Killing Eve and I get to work with people like Sandra, or Jody or Fiona and even Sam Mendes (in Ferryman). It’s a privilege to work with them. It’s like a breathing experience so that the next job I have, the work is good enough on my part.

The one thing I’m really looking forward to do now that I’ve gotten a taste of TV is doing something really different from Killing Eve and Kenny as much as I love it. It’s a funny thing I had my first kind of industry meetings out here a couple of weeks ago and it was my first experience of a closed-type casting and I went in a network. It was a character made by someone who works in this casting office.

They want to see if I could do it and depending on how good my American accent is.

If I could nail The American accent, the amount of roles in playing the IT guy, or any investigative drama will be less. 

I want people to see beyond the quirky IT guy.

Speaking of accents, what do you think of it?

Accents make you unique

I always thought that drama school thinking that it’s going to be knocked out of me.

Embrace the fact that I have this crazy blend of growing up in London and having a London accent mixed with an Irish family so I speak too quickly for my own accent. Especially here, nobody understands a word I’m saying.  

The first couple of weeks here in NY I felt so bad. I thought I’d be cool to be here with a London accent and people would find it really interesting but it didn’t really matter.

 

webSEAN_DELANEY_ABOOKOF_ab.jpg

If you’re gonna be a book, what book would you be and why?

It’s a really good question. 

I’d love to be exciting or fun enough to be a Where’s Waldo or Where’s Wally kind of book. It makes no sense until you start going through it.

I’m reading On the Road recently, but definitely not that one specifically but definitely a book that follows a long journey that goes to a lot of places. It wouldn’t be set in one place with just one person. It’s nowhere interesting, as I want it to sound.

I’d probably romantic as well. I want to be a romantic novel. Or I’d like to think so anyway.


Catch Sean Delaney as Kenny in Killing Eve

And as Michael Carney in The Ferryman in Broadway.