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A Conversation with Copper’s Donal Logue

A Conversation with Copper’s Donal Logue

Actor and previous Nerdist Podcast guest Donal Logue is a very busy man. After recently wrapping his shooting on two shows, Sons of Anarchy and Copper (whose second season premieres tonight on BBC America), he immediately jetted off to Ireland to begin work on the next season of Vikings. It’s from this location that Donal is calling. And as we begin he’s in a great mood but with so much going on, he has a lack of enthusiasm for being disconnected from the world, “You can’t live without internet. I’m at a cottage in Ireland where I’m shooting and it’s going to take twelve days to get them out here. They were like, ‘We’re going to call a taxi to take you…’ I can’t go into town to check my email. It’s so weird to get caught out without the ability to communicate. Even in the truck we have a little Verizon Wireless modem.”

terriersLogue is perhaps best known for his television series Grounded for Life, but many fans recognize him from work ranging from mid-budget comic book movies Blade and Ghost Rider to The Tao of Steve and the single season wonder Terriers. As our conversation gets rolling it becomes clear why Donal isn’t happy about being disconnected from the world, he’s a workaholic. “It’s a great time, I was doing two shows in two different countries and then I had to jam here. It’s thrilling it’s just, the only byproduct is it’s tiring. There were days I’d go to Toronto and blast out Copper and fly back to LA and blast out Sons and go back to Toronto and just get off the plane and go straight there. It was a cool thrill ride. It was just taxing, but in the best possible way. There’s no break. I don’t know when I took a [break]. It’s kind of the lifestyle, because you don’t know when a job is coming up. I think the only time I ever took a break with my kids and stuff was in years past when I was on Grounded for Life and I knew it was coming back the next year. Then you knew you had a job.”

Donal’s desire to create security for his family and to consistently have gainful employment led to him starting his own trucking company. “When I first started working, you’d do two days on a movie, you’d make $1200 and take $400 of it home and you lost your telemarketing job. The transpo guys were like, ‘Well, if you get your class A CDL you can always work transpo.’ And that’s what allowed… you could work five months on a movie if you had a job job on it. I think that’s probably part of being Irish. I was driving the truck earlier this year and the way scheduling is… I hadn’t worked for a long time, because I did a pilot for TNT and they weren’t going to pick it up, but they weren’t going to release it. You’re kind of unable to work for six or seven months in that process, while they’re making up their mind. It’s a weird trap. So, I can drive a truck.”

donal-logue-sons-of-anarchy-fxWhile Donal’s is a face many people are fairly familiar with, he says it’s still work to get work. “It’s all hustle  I’m just trying to be as pro-active as I can. I want to be creative and right now all of my decisions about the jobs have kind of worked out. All these jobs happened and were going on. Last year, three days conflict in a schedule and you can’t do a series because for those three days you’re in another place doing an indie movie or something. You might not work for a year because of that conflict. It’s all completely an utterly fair, it’s just kind of what comes with wanting to be in this industry. My thing is always, don’t wait for that decision making process. Do something on your own that’s active and fulfilling.”

Being on the road during gaps in production has helped Donal focus in on another passion, his first novel. “I was driving a truck and then I conceived of this novel that I wrote. I thought, ‘Well, you can always be creative, you don’t need permission.’ So I wrote this novel called Agua that I sold to Harper Collins. So right now I’m trying to get in my last two drafts to my editor and hopefully it comes out early next year. I think of this with six in mind, for the series. At first they were like, ‘Don’t save anything back for a second book, you only have one.’ You know it’s nice to think that way, but if you have the ability it’s better than one and done.”

donal_logue_brendan_donovanDonal can be seen starting tonight on the season premiere of Copper as Brendan Donovan, a brigadier General from the battlefields of the Civil War. As Logue begins to reflect on that character he can’t help but tie it to his experience on Sons of Anarchy as former US Marshal Lee Toric as well. “It was really freeing. We did some really wild stuff on the show that, of course, hasn’t come out yet. They took this character that had hints of darkness around the edges, and some righteous stuff, and Kurt Sutter just went deep with it. I’ve rarely done stuff… I compartmentalize what I’m doing really easily. I get into it in a way… I know what the scene is, I know where the beats are, I know where the marks are. I know what you’re supposed to do with all of the technical aspects of it. It was rare that I left a job on both Copper and Sons of Anarchy where I am so disturbed by what I did. It was intense. Both of those characters were pretty dark.”

After wrapping up a day of battle prep, Logue is excited about his current work on the second season of the History Channel’s Vikings. Donal caught us up on his experiences on the set. “I play King Horik, who’s actually the King of Denmark. He’s the first viking king really recognized in the annuls of history. It’s crazy. He wrote it with me in mind. He was a real character so of course he’s going to include him. But, how long would I have survived in viking times? About 42 seconds. However long it takes to run through a village before some throws an axe into your head. We’ve been doing all of these fight sequences today, so it was fun. It’s fantastic. It’s a great project. There is nothing to not like about it. There’s an incredible cast. It’s international, I’m the lone kind of Yankee Doodle Dandy.”

Donal-Logue-Horik-VikingsTransitioning from roles where he was either the hapless-schmuck vampire or the working class dad to playing a king and a general has been a treat for Logue. As he’s gotten to play characters that have moved up in the world, he’s also getting to play characters with a lot more going on in their heads, much like his peers Bryan Cranston and Michael Chiklis. “They’re all Machiavellian. You come at this from a point of view where you want to make this person empathetic. You gotta put that aside. This guy is different. He would behave in ways you would never behave and he would do things you’d never do. It’s a good comparison, those two guys. They were both people I knew from way back when and would be confident to do any material thrown their way. But the thing is, and it’s not unfair, when you do certain types of work for a long time, that’s what people think of you as. It’s hard to break that stereotype and you have to be lucky enough that someone’s going to give you the chance to show that you can do that. The chance that Bryan got with Breaking Bad, the chance that Michael got with The Shield. He had to fight to audition for that part.”

As Donal has bounced between three TV shows steeped in theatrical and literate origins, Donal connected to the idea of his current workload having a lot of the same elements from his time doing repertory theater at Harvard. “That’s exactly it. You get all of these different plays and it could be from Shakespeare to Sam Shepard that involve dialect work… It’s just theater. The best example for me is doing summer repertory theater and going through these really varied landscapes really quickly. Today it was interesting, because we’ve just reconvened on Vikings and they created this Nordic accent, this kind of amalgam that we’re getting back into and fight training and weird stuff. And it’s just like, ‘Oh, stage combat.’ It reminds me of theater, those old days. It’s fun. It’s fascinating going from 1855 New York to 796 Scandinavia and then a completely contemporary motorcycle club drama that is super-Shakespearean in its approach. It is like doing this wildly varied theater.”

Copper premieres tonight at 10/9 CST on BBC America. Sons of Anarchy returns to FX this fall and Vikings will return to The History Channel next year.



  1. Liz says:

    If this show started on the 23 June, why did we only get re runs and where is it????