Belfast actor Martin McCann has a new-found love for Joey Dunlop after landing a role playing the motorcycle racing legend.
The Survivalist star, who will appear alongside Jamie Dornan in this week’s episode of The Fall, is currently doing his homework on the road racing superstar.
“The more I’m learning about Joey, the more I’m amazed,” he told Sunday Life.
“I am completely in awe of the man.”
Ballymoney biker Dunlop, who died racing in Estonia in 2000, won the TT Formula One World title five consecutive times as well as 26 wins at the Isle of Man TT and 13 North West 200 victories.
He was respected not only for his achievements on the road, but also for his charitable work, for which he received an OBE.
“I’ve realised that Joey Dunlop didn’t say a lot, but he let his actions do the talking,” said McCann, who previously played U2’s frontman in the film Killing Bono.
“The more I know about him, the more complex he becomes. You can’t get to the bottom of Joey, he was his own man.
“He was an enigma. The script tries to understand what his obsession was with racing and the trance that these men go in. As someone who isn’t in the sport, you have to wonder what makes you race at 210 mph.
“Joey was widely quoted as saying there’s two green blurs and a grey blur and I try to stay on the grey one — that’s how fast he was going — so as an actor, it’s interesting for me to be able to try and get into that mindset.”
The film has been penned by Boogaloo and Graham Oscar-nominated writer Ronan Blaney and will be made with Northern Ireland Screen.
After being in Maze, a film based on the 1983 jail escape, McCann hopes the Dunlop movie shows another side to Northern Irish history.
“Joey is someone I think we should be very proud of and hopefully I do him justice,” said the 33-year-old.
“Joey Dunlop is a big role for me, but I treat all of my roles with the same importance, passion and love, whether that’s a smaller role in Maze or a lead in The Survivalist.
“I think it’s important people see our history has a broad spectrum in Northern Ireland, not just the Troubles. We have a lot to celebrate here, especially in terms of sport, and Joey Dunlop is one of those things.
“To go to the Isle of Man TT at the age of 48 and win three times in three different divisions is beyond incredible.
“He was looked at as essentially an old man against all these young guys who were hungry to win and he makes history again, then sadly dies in Estonia two weeks later.
“I think it could be a big success, especially in Ireland, because so many people loved Joey Dunlop even if they weren’t big bike fans.”