The 29-year-old actor and writer, from south Belfast, has just had his stage play My Left Nut - based on his own experiences - adapted for the BBC. He has recently finished a long UK tour with the Royal Shakespeare Company. As well as My Left Nut, he has also written stage play The Alternative. His long-term girlfriend Naomi Sheehan (29) works as an architect.
Q: Do you take regular exercise and if so, what?
A: Regular is a strong word. Like most things in my life it comes in bursts, sometimes doing a lot, other times not so much. Nothing too fancy, mostly jogging or going to the gym, I have a membership at Queen’s PEC which I’d use. I’ve tried to get into more classes or team sports in the past, but it’s hard to commit to anything with a schedule when you’re working as an actor - you can’t really commit to anything. So I mostly just stick to the running and doing bits at the gym. I’d do the odd bit of yoga, but again rarely at a class, I’d just do a bit of stretching on my own.
Q: What is the worst illness you’ve had?
A: I had a hydrocele on one of my testicles as a teenager. It’s nothing too serious, just a build-up of fluid, but the nervousness and panic around it led me to not tell anyone for over three years. The worry and panic around that was certainly very serious, even if the condition itself wasn’t. Eventually there was so much fluid built up that my testicle was the size of a can of Coke. I think the reason I didn’t tell anyone was my father died of motor neurone disease when I was very young, so I only really had my mum. No teenager wants to talk to their mum about their testicles. But also I think on a subconscious level, I’d seen my dad go through a terrible illness and I didn’t want the same to happen to me. So I just ignored it and tried to put it out of my mind. It was a very strange time in my life. I’ve now dramatised the story (along with my writing partner Oisin Kearney) into a theatre play, and now a television series - My Left Nut - which you can see now on iPlayer or on BBC One tonight.
Q: How healthy is your diet?
A: Like my exercise my diet goes back and forth. Some weeks I’m very healthy - kale smoothies, chicken salad, bean casserole - and other times it’s ham and cheese toasties fried in obscene amounts of butter and an entire packet of KitKats. I’ve always struggled with my weight. When I was in university I weighed around 18st, now I’m down to around 13st - but I do have to watch it doesn’t slip back up again. It’s something I have to concentrate on. I do like eating healthily but if I’m tired or busy, my go-to is just to eat a full packet of biscuits.
Q: Any bad habits?
A: Apart from eating entire packets of biscuits? Not really. Although I’m sure if you were to ask my girlfriend or my mother they’d come back with a list as long as your arm. My old housemate used to complain that I’d leave lemon pips all over the kitchen after juicing lemons - so there’s that.
Q: Do you drink and smoke/if so how much?
A: I’ve never smoked, but I do enjoy a drink. Although it’s definitely decreased in recent years. I’ve finally reached the stage of the two-day hangover. So mostly just a couple of pints at the weekend, maybe a hot whiskey before bed on the odd school night. I’ve gotten really into Belgian beers recently, especially Gueuze or Lambic - which is a sour beer. Really delicious.
Q: Do you take any supplements?
A: I’m mad for a Berocca - that gets me going in the mornings. This year for the first time I started taking Vitamin D supplements during the winter, I was worried I wasn’t getting enough daylight.
Q: How do you take time out?
A: The Lagan Meadows keeps my head sane. I live very close and when I’m home I’d run or walk through there at least twice a week. It’s one of the main things I miss when I’m working away from home. It just clears my head.
Q: How well do you sleep?
A: Not brilliantly. When I get over to sleep, I’m out for the count, but it often takes me a while to finally get over. It’s difficult if I’m acting on a theatre job - you might not come off stage until 10.30pm, and you still have a lot of adrenalin in your system, so it can be hard to wind down. Especially when I’m lying in bed staring at a bright phone screen - that’s something I’m trying to change.
Q: Do you worry about getting old?
A: My girlfriend is always teasing me that I’m getting old - even though she’s not even a year younger than me. No, it’s not something I worry a lot about. I’m still very young and except for the aforementioned two-day hangovers I’m not feeling the old body break down quite yet.
Q: What is your go-to product that keeps you feeling healthy?
A: Gotta be the Berocca. Although I’m not sure if it keeps me feeling healthy or just stops me feeling unhealthy.
My Left Nut launches on BBC One tonight and is also available on iPlayer