10 THINGS – Mark O’Brien

You have quite the experience in this business. How did you initially get your start as an actor?

I did a lot of theatre starting out. That led to booking a role in a Canadian mini-series about WWII called Above and Beyond when I was 21. That helped me get an agent and keep moving forward, but there was never really a defined moment for me. It’s all been a very natural progression, which has actually worked very well, because I haven’t had any sudden jumps in my career that I felt like I couldn’t handle.

Which actors body of work made an impression on you and which ones would you love to work with, given the opportunity?

Edward Norton was always an inspiration for me growing up. From there, I’ve always loved Christian Bale’s work, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is the best comedic actor I’ve ever seen. I’m also a huge fan of Maureen Stapleton and early De Niro. I honestly love working with any actor that is prepared, professional and a good human being. I once got to read with Al Pacino at his house. That was certainly a highlight.

Let’s talk about the film, The Front Runner. How were you first introduced to the project?

I got a call from my agent that Jason Reitman wanted to meet with me. I’m a huge admirer or Jason’s work, so I immediately was excited and flattered to have the opportunity.

What was it about the script that made you jump at the opportunity to do it?

It was just so well researched and honest. It took a situation we all either remember or can relate to, and made it human. It’s not about sensationalizing something as much as it is about sensationalism itself, and how that affects so many people.

In the film, you play the role of Billy Shore. What can you share with us about his personality and what makes him tick?

Billy was Gary Hart’s aide-de-camp. Gary described him as a saint. Nowadays, Billy runs a very successful not-for-profit organization to feed hungry children. He’s a very considerate man. I also found the character to be, above all, loyal. He was there for Gary and was selfless in his work. And still is.

What can viewers expect to see from your character Billy and the rest of the cast?

What’s great about the film is that it’s a massive ensemble of incredible actors, whose faces audiences will recognize – all centered around Hugh Jackman and his phenomenal performance. I’ve seen the film and each and every performance is very special, making the film something very impactful and resonant.

The Front Runner also stars Hugh Jackman, Vera Farmiga, J.K. Simmons, and Alfred Molina. What was your experience like working with these seasoned actors and creating the magic on set?

Hugh Jackman is a fantastic leader. He’s professional, courteous, inclusive and fun to watch. Vera burns up the screen in everything she does, and it’s no different here. She just leaves a mark on everything she does. And J.K. has such a presence that it’s a pleasure to be near him. Mostly, they’re all wonderful people I felt lucky to work with.

If you weren’t working as an actor, what type of career would you be in?

I write and direct. So, I suppose I’d do that full time. Outside of the arts, I’d love to do something in academics, teaching someplace. Teaching is a form of collaboration and that’s what I love so much about being an artist.

When it comes to fashion, what styles do you tend to gravitate to?

I like a classically formal kind of hip hop style. I like a look that can work in many different environments.   

We look forward to seeing you in The Front Runner. What other projects do you have coming up?

In 2018, you’ll see me in Drew Godard’s Bad Times at the El Royale as well as Noah Baumbach’s latest untitled project for Netflix. I recently finished filming the biopic Goalie about the life of Terry Sawchuk – in which I played him. In January I’ll start filming the new Showtime series City on a Hill as a series regular.


Twitter: @MarkObrienNL 

Instagram: @MarkObrienFoReal

Interior Photos: Kevin Garrison 

Exteriors Photos: Tim Leyes