In this week's interview, we talk to Bafta-nominated writer and actor Conor MacNeill (32) whose credits include The Fall and Industry. He is from Belfast and currently lives in London.
Q. Tell us about your childhood?
A. I am from Andersonstown in west Belfast. I didn't start acting until I was about 14 and I started off with DubbelJoint Theatre company in west Belfast which was run by Pam Brighton.
I started acting with those guys because I played traditional Irish music and then ended up in a few of their shows during the summers in between school.
After school I pretty much went straight into an acting job. I did my A-levels in June, started rehearsals with Prime Cut theatre company in July, was on stage in the Waterfront when I got my A-level results and it hasn't stopped since.
Q. What are you most proud of?
A. I suppose my work and my four nieces and nephews. I'm so proud of them. They are all incredibly talented and they bring me so much joy, and my godchildren as well. I have two godchildren who I adore and I'm proud of everything they do.
My nephew, Sean O'Neill, is a musician - he's in a band called latearrival and they are starting to get a bit of traction. Watching him get into that has been quite exciting.
They are in the very early stages.
The work they are doing and the music they are recording... every time I hear a song it blows my mind that it's them.
Q. The one regret you wish you could amend?
A. Not having booked an incredible Airbnb by the sea at the start of lockdown would probably be my biggest regret!
I spent lockdown at home in London in my flat. But it was fine and you just have to remember how lucky you are to have somewhere to stay.
I was writing quite a bit. I'm writing a script with Jamie Dornan at the minute which we wrote during lockdown over Zoom.
I can't tell you too much about it but we have just had a really exciting production company come on board and we are in the stages of getting it up and running.
It's set at home so hopefully we will be home to make it happen at some point.
Q. What about phobias. Do you have any?
A. No, I don't think I do. Even if I don't like something, I will always try it. I don't think that anything terrifies me.
Being unemployed forever terrifies me - the concept of that - but that would be about it.
I love working and I'm a workaholic, it's what I know. Not necessarily being unemployed, but not having anything to put my mind to would be a nightmare for me.
Q. The temptation you cannot resist?
A. Fried chicken. There's a place in London called Butchies that does amazing fried chicken. I struggle walking past it - it's my biggest weakness.
Q. Your number one prized possession?
A. I have a picture from when I was a kid that my mum took of the Black Mountain, and I have it in a frame here in London in my bedroom window.
Q. The book that's most impacted your life?
A. I always go back to Heaney's Collected Poems.
There are certain things in his book, North, that meant an awful lot when we read it at school.
And then as I grew older I took a different interpretation every time I read them.
Whatever is going on in your life you can always draw some sort of solace in Seamus Heaney's stuff.
Then there's a Scandi writer called Karl Ove Knausgard.
His work is heavy and dense but it's profoundly moving and incredibly human.
He basically writes memoirs in the style of fiction - they are all true, all from his life.
He has an incredible take on the world - sometimes it's very bleak, and bleakly honest, but in a very moving way.
Q. If you had the power or authority, what would you do?
A. If I could do anything in the world I would inject everybody with empathy. If everybody was a bit more empathetic, I think things might be a little bit easier.
Once you stand in someone else's shoes for a minute, no matter what you think of their viewpoint, if you lean in to people a little bit then you realise we are all slightly more similar than we perceive.
Q. What makes your blood boil every time without fail?
A. I don't think I get raging about stuff. I suppose ignorance, when people just assume and don't want to listen, is annoying, or they don't want to educate themselves.
Q. Who has most influenced you in life?
A. My parents most likely. They are incredibly supportive and encouraging of everything I have done and acting is not an easy career to go into. In an ideal world, I think if I had said I wanted to do a degree and go and study law or whatever, they would have been absolutely thrilled - but whenever I said I didn't want to do that and I didn't go to university and became an actor, they were so encouraging and supportive. They have had a huge impact on my life.
Q. Your top three dinner party guests, dead or alive, and why?
A. I would say the singers Tom Waits and Nick Cave, and Seamus Heaney. That would be pretty interesting.
I adore them, I think they are all geniuses and I'd love to listen to them talk.
Nick Cave's The Red Hand Files, an online newsletter he uses to respond to questions from fans, is so incredible to read, he's a genius. I'd love it if Tom Waits got to sing at the end, or Nick Cave. It would be unreal.
Q. The best piece of advice you've ever received?
A. Take your job seriously but don't take yourself seriously.
It was Eleanor Methven, an actress from Northern Ireland, who said that to me early in my career, and the sentiment has been reiterated to me from people who I've loved working with. I try to emulate that a little bit, I think that's very important.
Q. The unlikely interest or hobby that you love?
A. Cold water swimming. When I was home last January after Christmas I was down in Helen's Bay quite a bit jumping into the sea. It's harrowing but you feel amazing afterwards.
I was working with an actress called Freya Mavor who loves it and we really enjoyed taking time to go swimming together.
If I'm in Dublin I'll always go to Sandycove and jump into the sea at the famous Forty Foot headland because I love how I feel afterwards.
But lockdown is a bit of a killer on that front and being in London I am not near the sea at the moment.
Q. The poem that touches your heart?
A. Follower, by Heaney. It's so heartbreaking and beautiful and simple, I think its simplicity is incredible.
Q. The happiest moment of your life?
A That's a really difficult question - there are too many moments in time that I adore.
The birth of my nieces and nephews was always amazing, performing on Broadway was always amazing - doing things like that is always profound and brilliant. And I think hanging out with mates again when you haven't seen them, because you miss them so much, because of what we are going through at the moment, little things become so much more special.
Q. And the saddest?
A. I don't think I have one. Everybody suffers grief, everybody suffers different difficulties, but they're all the things that shape you so there's nothing that I would look back on and say "that's the saddest thing that ever happened".
Q. The one event that made a difference in your life?
A. Doing The Cripple of Inishmaan play in the West End with Daniel Radcliffe.
I used to do little bits here and there, working in call centres and coffee shops and things like that. But from when I got that job in 2014 my career has been on a roll, a bit of a snowball. That job was a life changer.
Q. What's the ambition that keeps driving you forward?
A. To do good work and to tell good stories. There are so many brilliant stories to be told still. I'm sure nearly every actor or writer would say that you always feel like you can better yourself, and that always keeps you going.
Q. What's the philosophy that you live by?
A. I think it goes back to "take your work seriously and don't take yourself seriously" - I think that applies to life as well. Work really hard and have loads of fun.
Q. How do you want to be remembered?
A. As kind and funny and there for his friends and family.
Conor MacNeill stars in Industry, an eight-part series based in the world of international finance at a top investment bank in London. It is on BBC Two, Tuesdays at 9.15pm