The Man behind Wayne Molloy

Photos by Maria Shields O’Kelly.

Photos by Maria Shields O’Kelly.

Fair City, our longest running national soap opera has been dramatically illustrating the lives of Carrigstown residents for 25 years now, and has recently celebrated this landmark anniversary.

The show has managed to stay relevant, currently pulling in about 500,000 viewers a night, with many loyal fans keeping track of their favourite characters since it first aired in 1993, literally maturing alongside them.

As we look back over this time, certain memorable story-lines and characters stick out. Wayne Molloy has had an interesting year with on-screen wife Orla, filled with drama and pre-wedding humour.

NewsFour recently caught up with Victor Burke, who has played this part since the early days, taking a break for a while in the 90s when he lived in California. It was also around this time that his mother was receiving phone calls from a lad called Colin Farrell, who wanted to know if Victor was going to the States with him to become a movie star!

“It’s not even a business. A business has planning and strategy. There’s no rhyme or reason to the movie business. You have very little control as an actor,” he reflects of his time there.

While he was across the pond, however, he first dabbled with what would become an equally important facet to his career – writing. “I sold a children’s book about St Patrick to Time Warner in New York. I’ve been very unlucky. AOL bought out Time Warner, and I subsequently realised I missed out on being the top selling Irish children’s author at the time. Then I started writing as a script doctor, reworking characters and fixing problems, and that led to the story of a Mexican Boxer, which I completely rewrote. Currently, I’m working on my first studio picture for Sony, called Brother Jack, which is about the life of Jack Healy, who ran Amnesty for 30 years. A man described by Bono as Mr Humanitarian.”

NewsFour asks Burke if he puts any of his own experiences into his writing. “Not this one, it’s pretty dark. There are religious undertones in both of these stories. Jack Healy was an ex-priest, and the boxer killed an opponent in a Vegas ring and is obsessed with death. With these screen plays, production is costly and there’s a lot of risk involved. I try to make it relevant to a modern audience bearing in mind it’s not Transformers. No explosions. So I have to make the drama explosive.”

Burke tells NewsFour that Barry Levinson, known for Rain Man and Good Morning Vietnam, is attached to direct this movie. “It’s my job to keep the audience captivated while staying true to the story. It’s interesting, but you hand it over and that’s where the control ends. That’s why I do so many things. I’m working on a novel alongside everything else.”

Burke says of the business that it’s all make-believe. “Whether Wayne is finding out that his girlfriend is having another man’s baby or I have to get into the head of a 26 year old man who wants to leave the priesthood or indeed him as a 12 year old boy. The audience needs to be able to relate to the characters, and I try to do that with emotive writing.”

It is surprising that there is room for anything else, but the International media awards from London, Amsterdam and Paris in recognition of the success of IPC Digital Media, of which Burke is a co-founder, tells otherwise. They are leaders in the Digital out of Home (DOOH) marketing field and have pioneered this successful business model, with some major companies on their books, including Tesco, AIB and Musgraves. The company are marketing experts, using ‘how to’ shorts and animations to deliver messages where the impact will be most effective, at point of sale. “Literally when a customer is about to grab a product a sensor will go off, ‘suggesting’ a different one.”

Burke explains how it all started. “When I came back from the States I had responsibilities. I knew I needed to do something and the only thing I knew was audiences. I knew how to affect an audience either through the voice (Victor is one of the busiest voiceover artists in the country) or through acting. We started off slow and I personally went to about 150 pubs with cap in hand, and yes, being Wayne helped to break the ice.”

NewsFour asked if he had ever encountered any overly interested fans. “Oh yeah, that’s the thing about my character, he’s seen as unthreatening and a bit of gas. A huge amount of people approach me and say, ‘I don’t watch Fair City myself.’ Then they talk about it and know more than I do. Love it or hate it, Fair City is the most watched show in this country, pulling in more viewers than everything else on RTE. People just see me as the funny guy Wayne, and I am happy with that. I don’t need to tell them that I have another side to my life. It’s nice to do different things and take chances rather than being boxed into something you hate, limiting your chance of success. I love all of it.”

By Maria Shields O’Kelly