LIKE most aspiring actors, Cork-born David Fynn had to do his fair share of part-time jobs before he hit the big time.
“I pulled pints and I waited tables, I dressed as Santa. I sprayed perfume in Harrods and handed out leaflets. I did the lot!” he recalls.
Then, he landed a part on Channel 4 comedy The Inbetweeners and his career took off.
David, aged 37, went on to land roles in Game Of Thrones and Black Mirror, and has just finished a stint in London’s West End as the star of a production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School Of Rock — and has just filmed a movie with Oscar-winning actress Jodie Foster.
Not bad for the boy who was born on Leeside and still has lots of links to the city and county.
Fynn was born in Cork to a southside father and a northside mother. “My dad is from Ballyphehane and my mom is from Gurranabraher,” he says. “We lived in Mayfield and St Lukes when I was a kid but moved to London when I was four.
“My grandparents moved over first, then my dad and his siblings. My grandparents are back home now in Macroom so I think, slowly but surely, the siblings will follow suit and all move back. All of my mom’s side are still in Cork.”
David says moving to London at a young age was an eye-opening experience for him and his siblings.
“Growing up in London, you couldn’t really play outside so coming back to Cork was just like being let off the lead. We would go wild for six weeks.
“It was very different from what I was used to, it definitely toughened me up a bit!”
Fynn is the oldest of three. He says, “My brother is in Bristol and my sister is in Wales. I don’t get to come back to Cork as much I would like, although I was back last year for a cousin’s wedding in Ballincollig.”
Fynn says he got the acting bug as a teenager. “I did a bit of acting in high school in London. Then I moved back to Cork for transition year. I went to Colaiste Choilm in Ballincollig and played Danny in Greece! That was great. When I came back to the UK, I decided to go to drama school in London.
“London is very competitive in the acting world but the older you get, the less competitive it is.
“When you first leave drama school, you go to an audition and there are 25 guys there that look like you. But over the years it becomes four or five guys and you kind of get to know each other. You all nick jobs off each other, it’s still competitive but you’re all mates. People fall away and leave the business. The freelance life isn’t for everyone.
“There is definitely talent involved but it’s more about how much grit you have to stick it out.
“After drama school, we all think arrogantly ‘other people will struggle but I’ll be fine’. I remember thinking that and it’s a shock to the system when you leave and you have to do whatever it takes to make ends meet! It was really tough for the first four or five years after I finished.
“Then I got an episode of The Inbetweeners and from there my career took off, slowly but surely.
“It took until about six years after I graduated drama school to be able to work full time in acting but I haven’t had to go back to any other work since.
“I’ve been able to pay the rent with acting, which was always the goal.
“It’s about sticking it out and keeping your head down and not letting the knock-backs hit you too hard.”
David says the Irish acting community in London “is quite tight. I’m friends with a lot of them and they all look out for each other so in that way it’s an even smaller community.”
He has also enjoyed some success Stateside. “I did a musical in the West End a few years ago and an American guy saw it. He told an agent to take a look at me and my agent in London sent some stuff out to him. I went out for pilot season and booked a TV show. It was a seven-year contract but ran for three years.
“Los Angeles is very different, it’s a very tough place. It’s harder to find the community that you would here.
“In London or Cork, everyone goes through training or theatre together and there is a community feel, that’s not the case in LA. It can be kind of isolating, but when the going is good over there it is a great place to be. It’s beautiful and the weather is great.
“I am not sure if I would go back but never say never. Self-tapes are massive now so you can literally do auditions overseas.”
For the moment, Fynn is busy in London.
“I just finished a film with Jodie Foster about a guy who was illegally detained in Guantanamo Bay bay for 14 years. It’s based on a true story, that was amazing.
“Being asked to come back and do the last few weeks of School Of Rock was also great. I opened with the production three years ago so I loved coming back to finish it. I am also doing a TV show for ITV with Luke Evans.”
What does he say to anyone thinking of trying out a career in acting?
“I would say have a plan for what you want to do and if you feel it’s getting too much, there is no shame in saying you have had enough.
“But if you want it, work hard at your craft. It’s usually the hardest workers that stick around long term.”