Republic of Doyle’s Mark O’Brien Gets Us Ready for the Final Season

Tonight marks Republic of Doyle‘s final season premiere, and we have an exclusive interview with Mark O’Brien to share with all of you! Read the full interview below, and make sure you’re tuned in at 9pm (9:30 in Newfoundland) for the Season 6 premiere! will be at the Season Premiere bash in Toronto so if you’re on Twitter, follow us @thetelevixen for updates. Mark also told me that he’ll be tweeting, so be sure to follow him @markobrienNL!

So much has happened to Des over the years on Republic of Doyle, and in your recent guest appearance on Saving Hope, you were in quite a mess. Is there a reason why shows keep putting you in these uncomfortable situations?

I think Allan Hawco started a sick trend of enjoying seeing me hurt, and then Canada caught on to it. Now it’s a routine and I’m used to it.

The final season of Republic of Doyle is coming up, and although I’m sad to see it go, I’m glad it’s getting a proper ending. What are you able to share with us about what’s in store for these last episodes?

With it being the last season, everything is kind of amped up. It ups the tension and ups the drama of everything happening, and it’s also a more serialized season than previous seasons. There are many running threads throughout the entire season, so it’s really, really entertaining. The ten episodes are jam-packed, and it’s a lot of high stakes … it’s higher stakes than anything we’ve seen before with the main cast.

Des has always been a fan favourite on the show. What can you tell us about the experience playing this character over the years?

He’s a character that really means well. When we first pick him up, he’s in his early 20s and then he grows into a man. He’s really matured along the way, and that’s what’s made it interesting for me. I think it’s also that I could always see what they were going for. He was certainly more bumbling in the beginning but there was a certain kind of endearing quality in that for me approaching it as an actor. It was bumbling in the sense that he was always trying to get something right, or always trying to do a good job, and I find that an admirable trait because even though he gets knocked down, he still keeps going and still keeps trying. Even with Tinny, he keeps trying to win her over. He’s very persistent and while he might seem almost like a passive character, in actuality I think he’s quite the opposite. He’s willing to fight through whatever happens to him — his family situation with his father, then joining the Doyles, and messing up sometimes then pulling through. He’s a persevering character.

You’ve been doing quite a bit of directing, and you even stepped behind the camera for the second episode during this season of RoD.

Yeah, I directed the second episode of this season and it was great. I really love directing. It’s something that I’m drawn to. Even as an actor, I’m always curious about what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. I think I’m just in love with film in gereral, so directing is a natural progression. Right now, I’m in the middle of a shoot. I’m directing a short film with some Doyle alumni — Lynda Boyd who plays Rose, and Rachel Wilson who was Nikki, Jake’s ex wife, and Rick Roberts who played Mayor Clarke on Doyle in Season 2 and came back at the end of last season as well.

I know with some actors that step behind the camera to direct, their character tends to have a smaller part in that episode, but some prefer to just play the role as usual. What was your style in directing the episode?

It was the same amount of Des, even more — I’m in that episode quite a bit, but I wanted that. I thrive under being busy, and if I’m on set anyway directing, I would love to be on set acting as well. My only concern was the episode previous to the one  I directed. I had to prep the episode while I was shooting the one before I directed. For that episode, I wanted to be as available as possible to prep, because when you prep, you’re actually not on set, so that was actually more important for me. Once we were shooting, I had no problem stepping in front of the camera while also directing. I love it, actually, to do both things at once.

When it’s come to spoilers for the show, have you preferred being in the dark along the way, or knowing what was coming for the story and for Des?

I used to always want to know what was going to happen. Sometimes you want to be able — like in a film — to know what the character’s going to do so you can plant the seed of who they are throughout the film because you’ve read their story. With a series, because you’ve already established the character and you already know who they are, I kind of like being surprised because it keeps you on your toes a little. That way you can’t cheat and give away something that’s going to happen later as a performer playing that character. With a series, I don’t like to know at all, but with a film, I definitely want to know everything.

Now that Doyle has concluded for you, are you looking for another series regular role, or are you taking the opportunity to pursue more directing opportunities?

I really want to focus on the things that I’m interested in doing, and sometimes that means turning down things. Right now, there are eight or ten things that I’m in development with — either directing or producing or as a vehicle to star in — and those are the things that I’m really interested in right now, and they’re all in different stages of development, so we’ll see what happens. If a series comes along and I think it’s good, then I’d go for it completely. Being on Doyle for so many years made me realize the things that I really like and the things I don’t like and I think it’s important to do what really inspires you. I’m doing a lot of writing, and I’m going to kind of see what happens because it’s an interesting time. It’s almost like being a free agent in sports.

Would you say that being on Doyle has almost been like going to school for you, and that you can take what you learned and put that into practice?

Oh my goodness, 100%. It was like going to film school. I think you can never stop learning, especially as an artist, it’s an open field. The more you’re on set, the more you learn. Doyle’s taught me so much, being in that world twelve hours a day, five days a week for six years. It taught me a large majority of what I know right now.

Republic of Doyle’s had an international fan base — it was one of my American contributors that first introduced me to it — and has this indescribable way of bringing people together. Do you have anything you’d like to share with the fans, or anything you’d like to tease about the final season?

We get a lot of acknowledgement from fans, and I think we owe them as much acknowledgement because the show would not have gone for six years if people had not just watched it, but communicated about it on social media. Like you said, there’s something about the show that makes people want to come up to you and talk to you, it has this kind of “home” feeling to it and makes you feel close to the characters. People come up to me like they know me and treat me like Des which I think is very nice because you make people happy and you entertain them. The fans could not have been more gracious and excited, and it’s that kind of enthusiasm from the fans that made the show so good. When you’re walking down the street or on Twitter and people say such nice things make you want to go and do an even better job. The success of this show is because of those people. I owe them my career.

Photo Courtesy of CBC

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *