Mary Murray has been appearing in Irish television,film and theatre since the late 90s with her first film role playing Tracy in the short film “The Very Stuff” (1997). Mary has gone on to play parts in major Irish films, such as “The Magdalene Sisters” (2002) and “Adam & Paul”(2004). Most people would recognise Mary from her featuring promptly in the role of Janet in the RTE crime drama “Love/Hate”.
Mary tells of how she made her first on stage appearance.
“My first appearance was on stage in a local talent show at age five. I performed a poem and was awarded third place in the finals. Since then I was hooked. Throughout my childhood I got involved in the odd local play and at age thirteen I enrolled in drama classes at the National Performing Arts School in Digges Lane. I lived for Saturdays lessons and while I was studying there I performed in two big theatre productions at the Olympia theatre under the direction of Rebecca Roper. I grew in confidence and by the time I was sixteen I landed my first short film which was directed by Lisa Mulcahy. We spent a week in Connemara shooting and it was a fantastic experience.”
Mary has come a long way since starting off and has won many awards during her career including, the award for Best Actress at The First Irish Theatre Festival, New York for “The Pride of Parnell Street”. Mary describes her experience working on “The Pride of Parnell Street”.
“My most challenging experience was debuting the Pride Of Parnell Street’ by Sebastian Barry. This was a two hander directed by Jim Culleton for Fishamble Theatre Company. Karl Shiels (my onstage estranged husband) and I performed monologues over the course of one hundred minutes. My first monologue was around twenty minutes long as far as I recall. Up until then five minutes was probably the maximum amount of time I’d spoken on stage without responses from other actors. It was terrifying. I have no idea how I made it through that first performance. Luckily it was a huge success and it went on to tour both nationally and internationally on and off for four years.”
Mary was also nominated for Best Actress in Television for The Irish Film and Televisions Awards 2014 for her role as Janet in Love/Hate along with being nominated as Best Supporting Actress in Drama for the Irish Film and Television Awards 2015 for the same role. Mary describes how she felt working on “Love/Hate” from season three to five.
“I had a wonderful experience on Love/Hate. The cast and crew were world-class and the scripts were such a joy to read. I was introduced late into season three as the Madame in the brothel – Janet. Nidge played by the wonderful Tom Vaughan Lawlor was conducting an extra marital affair with me. In season four I managed to find Nidge’s soft centre and show him that I wasn’t as hard I seemed. We were both vulnerable and found solace in one another while we looked in control to those on the outside. However in season five viewers watched the deterioration of our relationship and culminating in a horrific demise for me.”
Along with appearing in Irish film, television and theatre, Mary also runs and operates her very own acting school, “Visions Drama School”, where she is an acting instructor.
“It gives me great pleasure to teach. I learn so much about performance by watching how different individuals learn and develop. I get just as much joy in the classroom as I do on stage. I’m very lucky to do what I love for a living.”
“I’ve had students win best actress and rising star awards for film, attend the Academy Awards, nominated for children’s BAFTAS, work alongside A list stars, perform in our most prestigious theatres, voice animations and become household names. The fact that students see their peers gives them hope that anything is possible and that some day they’ll get a taste of the action too and that always puts a smile on my face.”
Most recently, Mary and her students have worked on the short Irish film “Fingerprints” and she describes her experience of working on the film.
“Fingerprints just aired on RTE2. It was directed by Jimmy Smallhorne, an incredible talent. It was written by Siobhan Duffy, a seventeen year old from Ballymun with immense talent who won a screen writing competition. When Jimmy sent the script to me I was flabbergasted that someone so young could write so succinctly. It was powerful and heart wrenching and I was eager to play the role of the school teacher Miss Holden who tries to help a boy in need but manages to make his already miserable existence even more harrowing. The boy was played by a student of mine David Murray – no relation, and he was phenomenal. I managed to persuade Jimmy to use my students as his classmates and Jimmy was astounded by their level of professionalism on set. All of the kids involved were a joy to work alongside.”
Mary is a talented actor and teacher and will continue to develop in her career as well as developing those around her.
“Once I’m working, learning and meeting new challenges and incredible people who I admire. I’m content. I am living the dream – my dream.”