Interview With Robert Sheehan (Cherrybomb Promotion)

published 28 January 2009
written by

Robert Sheehan was born in Portlaoise, Ireland on 7 January 1988. His breakthrough came at the age of 14, when he got a small part in a film Song for a Raggy Boy. Since then, Robert has done a lot of TV and film work; his most recent projects include a show called Rock Rivals, and a film Summer of the Flying Saucer.

Here’s how Robert Sheehan explains the plot of Cherrybomb: “Two best mates, who are at that age where it’s kind of like, oh what’s next, is it college or is it living on the streets because mammy and daddy won’t pay the rent? Yeah, so there’s two guys and they’re on the edge of adulthood and best mates and they come from two very different backgrounds — one more wholesome than the other — and then, as all this is going on, a girl comes along (and) both the lads fancy her and see it as a challenge to get her.”

Of course there’s more to it, but Robert did not want to spoil it for the fans! However, he did reveal many details about his character Luke, who is a complete opposite to Malachy: “He’s a naughty, nasty boy! Very much your case of aggressive, but aggressive because he comes from a very unstable background. He’s gotten himself into — well he and his whole family have gotten themselves into — a very awkward situation, with their power structure and how they live their lives. And the reason Luke’s such good mates with Malachy is because Malachy is an escape from this whole, very uncomfortable and horrible reality he has to face every day.”

However, there is another side to Luke’s and Malachy’s friendship, as explained by the directors: “Luke is charismatic, eccentric; the golden guy with rock-star cool who always gets the girls, but he’s really a neglected boy who needs his friendship with Mal perhaps more than Mal needs him — Malachy’s more like family to him than his own brother and father. So as the competition starts to drive them apart, Luke’s confidence and security are at stake, not to mention the fragile balance of his family life.”

Luke’s family life largely revolves around drugs — both his brother and father are in the business. Robert further describes Luke’s love-hate relationship with his father: “Me and my dad are in a trapped, warped family situation where we’re kept in a newly developed house, a hollow shell, by my older brother — Chris. And Chris is using us as employees of his drug business. He has us in this kind of Catch 22 situation because we can’t really support ourselves and we are practically hobos in disguise because there’s a roof over our heads. And dad and I battle with that whole reality; whilst I kind of mind him, he doesn’t mind me. That’s the irony of the whole thing.”

Robert confesses that this is the most adult and violent role he has done to date, and mentions that there is a scene where he and his on-screen dad “kick the crap out of each other”! As Robert puts it: “It’s an accumulation of the tension that’s been building between the three members of the family – where my dad, Smiley has just shown himself incapable of taking care of himself — again — and Luke’s constantly having to go, ‘Pick yourself up dad! Be a dad, be a bit paternal for a change, will ya?’ And it all blows up in a very violent fashion.”

Robert has only words of praise for his co-stars. He described the experience of working with the rest of the cast as “lovely” and elaborated: “You get to that point where you’re working for twelve hours, every single day, day after day for weeks, where it’s such an intense bout of time being very close to a person, that you just don’t have time to be polite and nice. You know you have to get to know each other or else the whole thing goes topsy turvy. So when people are thrust into that situation they do become mates who can say whatever they like to each other.” According to Robert, the thick “Norn Iron” accent wasn’t much of a problem for his co-stars: “And fair play to Rupert, you know? He’s got it dead on and Kim as well.”

About filming the emotionally intense scenes Robert said: “It does help when you know the crew well, and you can push yourself emotionally in front of them without feeling ashamed or embarrassed. I’ve been on stuff before and felt self-conscious doing crying scenes or anything very emotional and we got beyond that.”

Just like Rupert Grint, Robert has found the experience of working with two directors thrilling, but he also noted that the good thing about Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn is that “they have their own territories marked out — each being in charge of different things; like Lisa was 100% on the drama and going through the script in the rehearsals, and Glenn is much more of a visual worker. I mean he was a graphic designer before for years — so they don’t step on each other’s feet and you’re not getting two voices in your ear at the same time.”

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