Liam Brennan: An interview with the award-winning star of An Inspector Calls
Acclaimed actor Liam Brennan returns to his role as the indomitable Inspector Goole when JB Priestley’s classic An Inspector Calls reopens on November 4th at the Playhouse Theatre. A unique and inspiring thriller, the play has won more awards than any other theatrical production in history. With particularly extensive credits as a Shakespearean performer, Liam’s impressive experience encompasses theatre, film, television and radio. Winner of the 2006 CATS award for Best Actor for Tales from Hollywood, this year he was granted The Stage Edinburgh Award for his work in Diary of a Madman. As Inspector Goole, he is remarkable. We had the opportunity to chat with Liam about his work in this intriguing play.
I saw your performance as Inspector Goole in An Inspector Calls in April and was very impressed. Is this character a challenge for you? What do you think you bring to this role?
A challenge yes, but you are supported by the fact that you play a wonderful part. I think because he is written with a kind of neutrality, you have to bring a lot of yourself to the Inspector and trust that you are interesting enough.
I thought this play was magnificent and I can’t imagine another actor more perfect for the part of Inspector Goole than you are. Did you feel the role was a good match for you right away?
Thanks for that! Not necessarily originally, but as we progressed I felt it was “one of my parts” in the sense that it feels comfortable and real.
How much of your personality is in the character?
A lot I hope. As I said, I think that’s essential with this role.
Do you feel an affinity with the Inspector in terms of political ideals and principles?
Yes. I hope I can relate to his innate decency.
How did you/do you prepare for this role?
I don’t particularly have a different method for approaching different roles. I just try to immerse myself in it and work as hard as I can.
To what extent do you feel the morality tale in An Inspector Calls is relevant today?
I think the themes of tolerance and looking after each other, especially those perceived to be at the bottom of the heap, are eternal.
An Inspector Calls is quite surreal. Do you think this type of theatre allows you more freedom as an actor? How does it affect the way you interpret the role?
I don’t think it’s helpful as an actor to think that something you are in is surreal, that’s up to the audience. You strive to be free as an actor in the same way in all kinds of productions by being as relaxed and truthful as possible.
What do you think is the key to this play’s success?
It’s a great, intriguing story with a message and doesn’t give us all the answers. We are left wondering. And wonderment is good.
You recently won The Stage Edinburgh Award 2016 for your role in Diary of a Madman, and in 2006 a CATS award for Best Actor for your performance in Tales from Hollywood. Were these roles particularly significant for you? What past performances have been your favourites and why?
They were significant because they were great pieces of writing and great parts. Hamlet and Iago were past favourites; I’ve also been lucky enough to do a lot of Shakespeare.
What do you enjoy most about being an actor, and what inspires you?
The opportunity to be a story teller. And to put yourself in other people’s shoes.
If you were not an actor, what profession would you like to attempt?
I’ve always quite fancied being a farmer!
Are there any future projects you’d like to tell us about?
“Inspector” runs until February next year so I am not looking beyond then! That’s enough in advance!
Thank you so much for your time.
An Inspector Calls is at the Playhouse Theatre from 4th November 2016 until 4th February 2017. Book your tickets here.