Jack O'Connell on going 'full Fassbender' for Starred Up and his Irish roots

Jack O'Connell on going 'full Fassbender' for Starred Up and his Irish roots

JACK O’Connell has spoken about going “full Fassbender” for his his latest film, the British prison drama, Starred Up.

The Derby actor, who is second-generation Irish, was required to strip bare in the freezing cold whilst shooting a scene for the movie in Belfast.

He admitted that he decided to “bite the bullet” and do as Michael Fassbender did in Shame, and embrace the nude scene.

“Even though it was the middle of February in Belfast and lukewarm water was as much as they could help me with because of steam issues, I was pleasantly surprised with the final product,” the former Skins star said.

On the publicity circuit for Starred Up, O’Connell has also spoken about his Irish background.

His Dad is from Kerry and – despite not visiting Ireland until he was a teenager – O’Connell has maintained an interest in that county’s GAA teams.

He told the Irish Times: “I went to two Catholic schools. So there was a massive Irish influence in my life. There was a strong Traveller community there, when they decided to turn up. This is probably a bit insulting, but, when I was a kid, I presumed Ireland must be a place in Derby. I had that affiliation through doing dancing at the Irish centre. They used to call me Jumping Jack.”

Starred Up, which was released on Friday, is based on a script written by former prison counsellor Jonathan Asser.

23-year-old O’Connell plays the character Eric Love, a tremendously violent young inmate who is prematurely moved or ‘starred up’ to an adult prison.

In order to add authenticity to their characters, several members of the cast even slept in Belfast’s decommissioned Crumlin Road Gaol, where Starred Up was filmed.

O’Connell, however, was not one of them.

“I chose not to stay in the prison because there was no central heating,” he smirked.

“Even in Wandsworth (where he visited in preparation for his role) they have f*cking central heating. If I wasn’t on set, I was sleeping. I just wanted to crack on.”

He may not have completely thrown himself into the hostile environment that his character found himself in on this occasion, but he admitted that “a lot of time was spent in the gym” in preparation for his “physical” role in Hollywood blockbuster 300: Rise Of An Empire.

He is also currently wearing his hair an unnatural shade of black for Angelina Jolie’s new biopic Unbroken, in which he plays former Olympian and World War II hero Louis Zamperini.

O’Connell adds that  starring in the movie is “the biggest challenge” of his career to date, and that the way he aims to tackle this is by “making it f*cking awesome.”