Interview : Ian Toner, Rising star

Actor Ian Toner talks to Déshabillé about his career, ahead of his starring role in The Gate Theatre's production, John Osborne's Look Back In Anger.

Q. When did you know you wanted to be an actor?

Ian : I’ve always done it, so it’s something that’s always sort of been there. I did youth theater growing up in Cabinteely with a teacher called Paul Cullen, all through school. I thought until recently my theatrical debut was at the tender age of 6, in the Pied Piper, but then I found a photo of a play-school production which predates that. I’m dressed as a bear. I look thoroughly unhappy, perhaps I found the character one dimensional, I’m not sure. Anyway I decided around 18 or 19 to go to UCD, do lots of plays with Dramsoc and go on to drama school. 

Ian Toner

Q. What kind of experience was it going to the Gaiety School of Acting?

Ian : I had what I still consider to be two of the best years of my life there. We had some brilliant teachers, and our year happened to be incredibly talented which helped a lot. Drama school is a ludicrously demanding experience. It asks a lot from you physically, mentally, emotionally. Fortunately, I met some exceptionally good people who are still some of my closest friends, and it helps to be surrounded by that.

Q. Who are your favourite actors?

Ian : I don’t really identify any actors as my favourite, I’m more grabbed by particular performances. I like actors who are physical and a little weird and dangerous. Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson...actually that’s just the cast of Three Billboards but that movie could have been custom made for me.

Claire Dunne in Look Back In Anger

Q. Are you excited to be starring in Look Back in Anger?

Ian : I genuinely can’t wait to put it in front of an audience. It’s quite an intense and confrontational (and brilliant) play, so it will be interesting to feel it out in front of an audience. Playing this part and on The Gate stage is really one of the best things I’ve been able to do in my career. 

Vanessa Emme in Look Back In Anger

Q. What advice would you give to aspiring actors?

Ian : It can be a gruelling and seemingly uncaring industry, so I think it’s just important to look after yourself and try to have a good life outside of acting. Find some tolerable way of making money while auditioning. And don’t bump into the furniture. 

Ian Toner plays Jimmy Porter in LOOK BACK IN ANGER by John Osborne - the play is given a fresh look by award-winning Irish director Annabelle Comyn and opens at The Gate Theatre, Dublin from February 7 running until March 24 (previews from Feb 1) - further info at 

Photos :  Luca Truffarelli

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