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Stars lift the lid on 'dark and twisted' Northern Ireland-made TV thriller Dublin Murders

Two of the stars of the eight-part drama tell Ivan Little how they fell in love with Northern Ireland, and now one is considering buying a home in Holywood

Killian Scott as Detective Rob Reilly and Sarah Greene as Detective Cassie Maddox in Dublin Murders
Killian Scott as Detective Rob Reilly and Sarah Greene as Detective Cassie Maddox in Dublin Murders
Scenes from the TV show
Scenes from the TV show
Ivan Little

By Ivan Little

Belfast's about to have another starring role in a new, much-hyped TV thriller about... Dublin. And insiders have predicted that the hugely anticipated series Dublin Murders will rival other hit shows filmed in Northern Ireland like Game of Thrones, Line of Duty and The Fall in the popularity stakes.

The eight-part 'mysterious and dark' eight-part psychological drama focuses on two Garda Siochana murder investigations at the height of Ireland's Celtic Tiger boom.

Which explains why a Garda sign appeared last year on the old First Trust Bank building at Custom House Square in Belfast where much of the series was filmed.

Inside, the FTB building which has also been used as a location for other dramas was transformed into a Garda station too with incident rooms and interrogation centres upstairs and downstairs.

During filming earlier this year I met two of the Dublin Murder stars in an old bank manager's office which served as the hub of the Garda murder hunt.

The only thing missing was a working loo but a neighbouring restaurant came to the rescue and helped answer the call of nature.

Killian Scott and Sarah Greene are playing the two lead detectives, Rob Reilly and Cassie Maddox in Dublin Murders which the BBC believe will attract big audiences.

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A scene from the new drama
A scene from the new drama

"We're the two hot shots of the detectives' department," says Killian, adding with a masterstroke of understatement, "but all is not what it seems in the investigative team."

The detectives' boss is played by Conleth Hill, the much in demand Ballycastle actor who has found worldwide fame in the HBO cult series, Game of Thrones.

"Conleth's character throws us detectives into complex investigations that he thinks can't be solved," says Killian.

The probes centre on two murders that appear to be unconnected.

Killian says the first investigation follows the discovery by him and Greene's character of a body of a 13-year-old girl in woods.

The talented ballerina is lying on an ancient stone altar with her skull fractured and she's been suffocated.

Co-stars Killian Scott and Sarah Greene
Co-stars Killian Scott and Sarah Greene

The second seemingly unrelated murder that comes to the detectives' attention is that of a free-spirited young woman found dead in a roofless famine cottage.

But as the investigations progress, a link emerges not only between the murders but also with another mystery from 1985 in the same woods where the ballerina's body was uncovered.

Three young friends had gone missing and only one of them was found again but has no memory of what happened to the other two.

But Killian says that as the drama unfolds and with the aid of flashbacks, it emerges that his character is the youngster who was the survivor in 1985 and who has come back to Ireland from a new life in England to find out more about his past.

"It's like a Pandora's box," says Killian. "It becomes very muddy, broken, dark and twisted. Rob is obsessed with this extraordinary occurrence in his past and it begins to overwhelm his life."

Sarah Greene who's from Cork says there's also a darkness in her character's past, giving her a sense of guilt that she survived death too in a car crash that killed both of her parents.

Scenes from the TV show
Scenes from the TV show

"Cassie and Rob are very self-destructive," she says "They know each other's secrets and they are drawn together to look out for each other. It's not a healthy relationship though they are a great detective team."

Sarah says the work in Northern Ireland has been hard and the weather has made it even tougher. "It loves to rain up here," she laughs. "We had a four-hour shoot in the rain the other night on top of a mountain but it's going to look amazing."

Sarah now lives in London and relished the opportunity to come back to Ireland to work for seven months. So much so that she's been toying with the idea of buying a house in Holywood.

"I absolutely love Holywood," she says. "And Belfast has been great too. The restaurants and the bars are stunning."

Sarah who has been nominated for awards for her roles in plays on Broadway and who has also worked extensively on American TV dramas is also part of the London cast of the hugely successful Jez Butterworth play The Ferryman about the Troubles.

However, she says she almost didn't get the job on Dublin Murders, adding: "When I first got the scripts for the auditions I absolutely devoured them and I desperately wanted the part of Cassie. I felt it was my role, that it was meant to be.

Sarah Greene
Sarah Greene

"But when I was initially told I hadn't been successful I was gutted. So I was delighted to hear later on that they were casting me."

Most of the filming took place in Belfast though a number of scenes were shot in Londonderry and there were a couple of weeks on Dublin Murders which were actually spent in Dublin.

Killian like Sarah says he enjoyed the Belfast buzz.

Killian says: "It wasn't my first time up here. I was in the Terri Hooley film Good Vibrations, playing the part of Ronnie Matthews, the lead singer of the band Rudi and I really enjoyed it.

"I didn't know much about the Belfast punk scene beforehand but I became seduced by it.

"I was only up here for a week back then but this time has been very different.

"The only problem is that when you're working to such tight schedules you don't get to see as much of a place as you'd like.

"I shot a Netflix series called Damnation for four months in Calgary in Canada last year and I was in the apartment and I was on the set. And that was basically it. I know nothing about Calgary.

"Belfast has been a little bit different. I've had a couple of weekends to enjoy myself. The city and the people are so cool.

"The whole experience has been fantastic. My role is an incredible one and it's a brilliantly written script with a magnificent cast including Sarah Greene who is a dream. We clicked really quickly. She's really funny, really kind and very natural in front of the camera."

Killian is also in awe of Conleth Hill. He says: "He is a magnificent person to act opposite. Some of my favourite scenes in Dublin Murders have been with Conleth but he is also great fun to be around."

Killian was born Cillian Murphy but changed it because his Irish namesake was already an established actor who's currently starring in Peaky Blinders.

Killian's brother Eoghan is Fine Gael's Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government and another sibling Colin Murphy is a playwright.

Killian, who first caught the eyes of TV audiences in RTE's award winning TV crime drama Love/Hate, is a singer-songwriter as well as an actor.

He says: "I was a drummer in a band at college but I wasn't very good. Now I play the guitar and I write songs but I haven't been able to find enough time to really concentrate on the music. I haven't released anything yet and I get annoyed with myself that I haven't done anything about making a record. But my plan is to carve a body of work into an album.

"But I am a singular sort of person who focuses on one thing at a time. I am lucky in that I love what I do and I know that some of my friends who are really fine actors have never really had the opportunities that I have had. "

The storylines of Dublin Murders have been adapted from Irish American author Tana French's best-selling Murder Squad novels by massively respected screenwriter Sarah Phelps who has worked on everything from EastEnders to movies like Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None.

She says that being part of the Dublin Murders project has been an exciting experience from the get-go, adding: "I didn't really know Tana's books but when they were sent to me I was completely absorbed by page 10 of the first one.

"My brain just went crazy because it made my imagination run wild.

"The books are painful, beautiful and driven. I didn't think twice about adapting them. And I would love it if they were to make more series from Tana's books and if I were to be involved," says Sarah, who is also executive producer on Dublin Murders.

"It's been my baby from day one and watching the creative process here in Ireland has been like sending a kid to school. Seeing the first episodes on screen has been tremendous. Everything about them was so good that I actually forgot that I wrote the lines."

Sarah says she had never worked in Belfast before Dublin Murders. "But now I don't want to work anywhere else. It's been brilliant. The local crew have been incredible. They've worked on Game of Thrones and other series and they are extremely professional and harmonious.

"They not only work hard but they play hard and it's been amazing fun."

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