Depending on your age or origin, Martin Delaney ‘s face will be familiar for different reasons.
US residents in their 20s will remember Martin Delaney as the team captain in Nickelodeon’s Renford Rejects (a cornfed version of Jossie’s Giants, if you will), whilst Brits of a similar vintage will know him as the scouse stylist in Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps.
Producing, directing and writing jobs came a little later, interspersed with acting parts in Clint Eastwood’s Flags of our Fathers, Katheryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, and Sturla Gunnarsson’s Beowulf & Grendel.
Luc Floriani finds out what tickles him.
Martin Delaney: There’s a few noticeable ones really. In film the biggest change I have seen, is the gap between small and large films. It’s definitely widened over the years. Now you have these movies made for $500,000 – $1,000,000 versus huge franchises. You still have middle tier cinema but it’s getting less.
In TV it’s clearly the rise in reality, but of course you have many more channels. You mentioned the West End there in your question, I’d say the biggest change I’ve seen in stage, is the impact of TV actors or reality stars appearing in big shows and musicals.
I guess you could say stage is more heavily screen influenced these days. I can’t really comment on whether any of this change is good or bad really and I don’t think it’s important to. The point is that change has taken place, and the best thing to do is accept it and keep moving.
From stage to TV to film? Which medium has had the most impact on you?
Martin Delaney: Without a doubt it’s film. The reason I became an actor was because of my passion for film. Even if I wasn’t an actor, I always wanted to be involved- to make films and to tell stories. I had a video camera as a teenager and used to make home movies all the time. I remember watching films like One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, or Psycho when I was perhaps too young to, I grew up watching a lot of older classics by film makers like John Ford or Akira Kurosawa.
My dad would sit watching movies in silence in our house, with the lights out, like our own movie theatre. There was always a level of respect for cinema in my house growing up. I loved the idea that something made years before I saw it, could still make me feel certain emotions, make me laugh or cry, feel fear or joy. Amazing! I was totally intrigued by that really.
being a role model for
anyone. I have no desire
to be famous for the sake
of being famous
Where do you think cinema sits within contemporary culture?
Martin Delaney: Well, cinema is still a huge business and important art form but, as we touched on earlier, it has changed. In an age where we are constantly distracted by our mobile phones or have shorter attention spans, I think the idea of watching a movie in a cinema environment is still hugely important.
You need to be able to escape into a movie, to be taken away on the journey like you do with a good book.
Although there are benefits to watching a film in your front room, I’m still a massive believer in the theatrical experience. This is evolving all the time, who knows what the next step is?
Does this sit well with you?
Martin Delaney: Well I like the accessibility of film these days, yes. However, I like to give a film my full attention too, it deserves that. I think the cinema is the best place for that. However, watching with audiences is becoming more of a challenge, with people pushing the boundaries of social etiquette when watching a film! Gone are the days when a person with a torch could kick you out for talking too loudly!
Ha! I’m starting to sound very old but I can assure you, I’m not really. Haha!
How do you see your actions affecting society?
Martin Delaney: My actions? I guess I don’t really. I grew up in a very creative environment and I consider myself a form of artist, however I’m not sure that what I consider myself, or want from my career, is important enough to impact others.
I like to be part of telling a story. I like that story to be emotionally charged, or didactic in some way, to potentially reach a person. However, ultimately whether it does or not, is simply not up to me.
So, to twist the question around, how do events in society affect you?
Martin Delaney: I guess we are all affected daily by our interactions and so called events. I like to think I’m a good person, so hearing about bad things in the world does have an effect on me and my thinking. I’m interested in people, it’s part of what I do, so I tend to overthink the bad stuff that goes on.
Maybe I’m too empathetic, it’s probably why I try not to watch the news these days. I think constantly hearing what we call ‘news’ in this country – which seems to be the repetition of negativity – has too much of an impact on me. Hearing of the death of an artist that I’ve met, respect or worked with, is very sad.
Hearing of Philip Seymour Hoffman for example, I found it crushing. I can’t help but think of the pain he must have been in, battling his addictions, my mind just races – his poor children! Not to mention the sadness of his genius, just gone forever. A true great.
who contribute good to their social
environment on a daily basis, whilst
maintaining healthy relationships,
they’re the real role models
I met Paul Walker when I was on Flags of Our Fathers with Clint Eastwood and he was a charming man. Similarly with James Gandolfini on Zero Dark Thirty. I didn’t have scenes with either of them but I met them, enjoyed their company and respected them. Another British great, Richard Griffiths died last year and it affected me – I did my first ever TV role with him, playing a public school boy in Pie in the Sky. He was just so lovely to work with and so incredibly funny!
Has becoming a producer affected your understanding of being an actor and a role model?
Martin Delaney: I’m not sure I can say I am a role model in any way! I’m full of bad habits! Ha! My parents brought us up in this environment where we didn’t have role models growing up really. I never remember my parents talking of crushes, or people they idolised. So we never really did it.
They also taught us that people on TV or whatever, were not necessarily special and certainly not better people than us, so we never understood celeb culture. It’s similarly the reason why I don’t aspire to being a role model for anyone. I have no desire to be famous for the sake of being famous but I have a lot of passion for what I do.
I am fully aware that I am really good at making mistakes too, so the idea of anyone putting me on some kind of role model pedestal is not something I would recommend! The only insight that being a producer has given me, is that you can’t always put a monetary value on telling stories.
Which probably makes me a bad producer. Haha!
What single event changed from your ordinary state to where you are now?
Martin Delaney: Haha… I’m not sure. I would say, that I’m still very much ordinary. I’m a person like any other person. Career wise, it’s been varied and interesting and I’m very grateful for that. I’ve been involved in some great projects over the years. Last year I was involved in Zero Dark Thirty which won an Oscar, so I guess that’s pretty topical. It’s the second feature film I’ve made that was nominated for an Oscar but in the grand scheme of things, I played small roles in both.
How has being in the business changed your own definition of a role model?
Martin Delaney: I wouldn’t say the business has changed my definition. I guess role models are people who do something you can’t or couldn’t do, that you respect or admire. For me, there are a multitude of people like that. People in our society who keep the cogs moving, the hard workers, the people that get stuff done. The good family men and women who get their priorities right.
The teachers and educators, firemen and nurses of our society: they’re my definition of a role model today. The reason I say that, is because I know I’m not cut out for that kind of hard work, which in turn makes me have a lot of admiration for them.
Doing the kind of thing I enjoy doing is not something to be looked up to. People like me are just the manifestation of an over-active mind, not cut out for the hard work of the real world! So-called ‘normal life’ would be too hard for me, literally. The good people in our society who contribute good to their social environment on a daily basis, whilst maintaining healthy relationships, they’re the real role models for me.
That doesn’t mean that people who entertain us through art, creativity and sport are not important, of course they are. It’s just all about one’s definition of role model I guess.