A YOUNG Cork actor has a pivotal role to play in a new film alongside Hollywood stars Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots.
Vivarium, directed by Lorcan Finnegan, opens on streaming services this week with the cinemas currently closed.
Is features local actor Eanna Hardwicke, who is on the verge of becoming a household name. His dream of being an actor started at a young age and now, barely out of the drama school, he is hitting the big leagues at a remarkable pace.
Hardwicke was in his final week of drama school when he got the news that he had been cast in Vivarium.
“I had auditioned, but I really didn’t think too much about getting the part,” he says,
“This is an ambitious sci-fi film with a unique angle and an amazing cast. I can’t believe I got the chance to audition, let alone actually be in it.
“I was in tech for our final play of the year in drama school when I got the news that I got the part. I ran around the building for 10 minutes, I was so excited.”
Vivarium is about a young couple who go to view a show house in a newly-built estate. When they try to leave they learn there is no way out, and the house goes from being a banal suburban estate to hell on earth.
Hardwicke says working with director Finnegan was an amazing experience.
“It was mind-bending. When he is behind the camera he’s got such a vision. He’s created this whole world, with Garret Shanley, the writer. The way the sets were built, the way it was shot, it felt very much like we were just actually going into that world.
“Lorcan has an amazing knowledge of cinema and he would give you very unpredictable notes. He was always giving you things to keep you on your toes. That’s what I love about the finished product of the film. Everything you know, the places you think it’s going, Lorcan turns it on its head and takes the audience by surprise.”
The film takes twists and turns and it is best to say little about Hardwick’s character, to keep the mystery. Safe to say his character is connected to a performance by a younger actor, Senan Jennings, of Co. Kildare. Hardwicke says it was interesting to watch the young boy at work and gave him some ideas for his own performance.
“You do a lot of work for yourself and on your own. You construct it as best you can, but when your character is so tied to another’s performance it helps to see what they are at. Senan is just the most creative, engaged, fun kind of actor. Those qualities were so helpful because there’s a certain severity to the part. What I learned from Senan was to lighten that seriousness a little.”
Vivarium isn’t Hardwicke’s only big gig, he is soon to be seen in a BBC adaptation of Sally Rooney’s best-selling book, Normal People, an opportunity he relished.
“We are telling a story that’s about now. It’s about my generation at this almost exact moment, which is such a strange feeling as you’re filming it. It’s like taking moments from your own life and capturing them on camera.
“We were doing scenes in school and college and in bars and nightclubs and all of the locations where our lives are unfolding.”
Normal People also stars Cork actress Sarah Greene, who Hardwicke has known for years.
“I knew Sarah long before I started acting, it was great to get to know her in these circumstances. She is generous with her encouragement and helped all of us newer actors. She is a lot of fun to be around and has the best energy.”
The drama is directed by Lenny Abramson, who Hardwicke had dreamed of working with. “Lenny was on the top of my list. His films made such an impression on me.
“I saw Garage when I was a child and I loved it. I remember seeing What Richard Did in The Gate, right around the corner from where I went to school. I went to the cinema a lot at the time and that film was the most cinema had ever moved me. It made such an impression, it wasn’t just passing the time or entertaining me. It hit me hard.”
Working with Abramson was every bit as good as Hardwicke imagined.
“He is present and generous with everybody, I didn’t realise how important those traits were for a director because it made us all feel very comfortable. And of course, when people are comfortable and relaxed, that’s when you get the best work out of them.”
One of Hardwicke’s closest pals is one half of The Young Offenders, Chris Walley. The lads have been friends since they were ten years old and Hardwicke hopes they get the chance to work together some day.
“What a story the whole Young Offenders thing has been, but there was never any surprise for me when he got it because I knew what he could do.
“Since we’ve been kids we’ve been talking about the things we will act in together, you never know, we might get that chance now.”