There is something very fun about seeing up and coming Hollywood stars at press conferences in Chateau Marmont, Los Angeles. Irish beauty, actor and producer, Shari O’Donnell, talks about her work on her latest Hollywood movie and travelling the world from one movie set to another. Yet, she tells me she feels more at home with her family in the Irish countryside where she can relax and watch little lambs run around!
In her latest film she plays ‘Poppy’ a djembe drummer in ‘Along the Roadside’ with Michael Madsen (Kill Bill). This is the first role where Shari really gets to show her comedic chops. Not only does the Irish beauty have a beautiful face but she possesses a ‘so sew me’ hilarity, which you can’t help but love. Without trying too hard, in ‘Along the Roadside’ she creates a raw character which is one of the four films she appears in this year.
When I meet her, Shari, 28, is just back from India, where she was working on a film. She’s relaxing in a bungalow by the pool at Charteau Marmont which is surrounded by producers and movie stars. When she sees me, she nods and walks towards me with her bond like body which is complimented by a river of shining, thick hair. She sits down in the oversized chair in the press room and removes her aviators to reveal her piercingly sexy grey eyes. I can’t help telling her that she looks so different to the character she plays in ‘Along the Roadside’. “Well I suppose I’m doing my job then! I mean I’d like to think that I can transform myself into the right roles and really give up everything to become that character so I’m glad that I can do that and be recognized for that” she replies.
When I was walking in to set up for my interview I got a peek of her in action at a press conference where she’d gone off on a long riff in her charming Irish accent about how there is not enough female roles in the film industry. I ask her what it’s like to be an up and coming Hollywood star, travelling the world making films.
She tells me ‘I love what I do. I love travelling the world and talking about great stories and getting movies made but the truth is that a lot of people in this industry work incredibly hard and give up a lot just to survive in it. If you look around us today, a lot of these people are just here to be seen, LA can be quiet superficial at times. But it’s really the best place for real people who make things happen, they are generally the ones who worked insanely hard to get where they are today and that’s the path I want to go down. I love being in fancy places talking about films I was a part of, but for me, nothing compares to being back home in the Irish countryside with my family. I really feel the atmosphere is so alive in Ireland and a story really comes to life when you’re sitting by a fire and there is rain pelting against the window.
I ask her what it’s like working with a first time director and keeping her Irish accent in the movie. ‘When I got asked to audition for this role, they specifically wanted an Irish accent but I’d like to think I added some nice dimensions to my character other than the fact that she was Irish. So we decided that her deep thoughts is what give away her motivations. That process was really enjoyable for me as an actor. And Zoran was a great director. It’s almost kind of refreshing as it is scary working with a first time director. A huge part of you claps your hands for the new comer and the other half prays that he has talent. But thankfully as soon as we got into rehearsals I felt excited to work with Zoran. He is the kind of director that doesn’t like to talk too much, he likes to observe. He is always watching and then when it is highly relevant he will say something. But that something will be deep. Everyone else will have missed it. and you’re like ‘wow’!
I ask her how was India and does she enjoy travelling with her career as an actress and producer. She tells me well, first of all ‘I hate flying’ and it gets worse every year [her fear of flying]. I was just in India working on ‘A brief history of the world cinema’ and that was mind blowing. I worked in France and Ireland this year which I loved and next year I’m off to Hong Kong to produce a horror movie but overall my base is in LA. My favorite bit of promoting movies is travelling to film festivals to promoting them, especially Cannes Film Festival. I’ve been going every year for almost a decade now so it’s like the central hub for seeing my friends and people I’ve worked with over the years.
Shari is currently in talks for her next film ‘Spuds’ and is preparing for her role of Mina in a Dracula themed moved ‘Moonman’.
I then follow her on twitter and turns out her twitter name is @lovelybutmental
A SPECIAL OP ED PIECE BY MR. GERRY PIKE
Irish theatre, Film & TV correspondent