Robbie Walsh Interview

“When you start, finish.  Always finish and do not just sit on it…. put it out into the world.”

– Robbie Walsh

Dublin born Actor and Director Robbie Walsh is on an upwards trajectory.  His film – ‘The Letters’ is winning awards and critical acclaim worldwide having just been listed on Apple TV.  So, as we like to support indie film makers, it felt only right that we reached out to Robbie and got to know the director a little more.
Here’s what we discussed.

Hello Robbie, welcome to The Silver Hedgehog.  Let’s kick off with a quick look at Imdb.  Imdb Trivia mentions you are ex- army, is that true and what did you do in the Army?

”Hi Garry,  yes it’s true.  I spent 6 years in the Irish army. I was a buck private, While I served I got my fitness up and boxed and did track for them.  Unfortunately I injured myself in a way that meant I couldn’t compete or do duties. So I went back to the other passion of mine and started studying acting.”

Robbie Walsh

Robbie Walsh

What a career to pick up after the Army. I see your acting credits lean towards the bad guy role, do you see yourself as a bad guy actor?

”I get cast or called to auditions for bad guy roles a lot. I don’t mind this as bad guy, good guy, or anti-hero, I see myself as an actor that will always look for what I can do to make each character stand apart from another.”

What has been your favourite job – Acting or Directing, so far and why?

”Acting: it must be my film ‘SPLIT’, I had my best mate (David Alexander) in the lead with me and my family producing, so I was free just to act and improvise.
Directing: it is ‘THE LETTERS’,  I was blessed to be able to capture some of the most talented actors in Ireland push themselves to tell this incredibly emotional story”

You burst into directing with the short ‘Aces’ back in 2009 and have followed up with films such as Split 2016, Eden 2016 and The Letters 2021 all of which have gained awards and positive critical acclaim on the festival circuits.

”Yes, and it’s nice to have that back catalogue of work to be able to see my progression as a film maker in real time.”

What lead you to directing and producing your own films?

”I wasn’t getting called to audition for big parts and as I have always been a student of film,  I decided to create a few short films, then progress to features.”

Your latest film, ‘The Letters’ is a poignant, if not distressing film based on the Irish Cervical Cancer Scandal. What prompted you to write it?

”I wanted to try and do my part to draw attention to the subject and to show the women in my family I spoke up.”

What makes the Letters so cutting, is your choice to focus on a set of women that reflect a cross section of society, and explore their situations and experiences through to end of life, including real commentary from the victims.  Why go down that route instead of creating a dramatized documentary similar to what ITV did with the Salisbury poisonings?

“I wanted to make the film relatable to everyone watching it, while making it feel like an existential nightmare, that you as the voyeur are inadvertently a part of”

The scandal is such a personal moment for many, other than your own story ideas how much input did the victims and survivors have in the story?

”When I wrote ‘The Letters’, I made sure that I spoke at length with some of the survivors, victims & campaigners.  I put some of this research and sentiment direct in the film, but to deepen the impact on screen I included artistic liberties at times, and included metaphors to make people think.”

It’s clear you love film and cinema, when I watched The Letters, I noticed some scenes seemed to pay homage to other film makers.  Could you tell us the film makers you reference in your shots?

”As a student of film I’m inspired by loads of technical filmmakers.  For the letters it’s definitely Felinni, Scorsese, Wheatly, Booreman, Lee, Lean, Goddard, Kazan and Von Trier to name a few.”

I bet you faced a massive challenge to get the film made, what advice would you give other film makers in similar situations?

”When you start, finish.  Always finish and do not just sit on it….  put it out into the world.”

What films do you like to watch yourself? and is there a particular film that has had a lasting impact on you ?

”I’ll watch as many films as I can, a few that have had a lasting impact include King Kong (original), Streetcar Named Desire, Cool Hand Luke, Aliens, Predator, Heat,  8-1/2, Pulp Fiction, Cinema Paradiso, Escape to Victory and Bullitt.”

Lastly If you could have drink with any historical figure, who would you choose? and what would you talk about?

”My grandfather, I’d sit with him, my Dad & my younger brothers and ask him his opinion on my films, and ask him to educate me some more on film over a pint.”

Massive thanks to Robbie for taking time out to answer our questions.

If you are in the USA, Robbie Walsh’s THE LETTERS screens in NEW YORK on 26th January, at the Origin Theatre Festival.
For tickets: 


Words Garry and Robbie

Editor JJ

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