With an irresistible charm his rugged Irish looks and dulcet tones, Shaun Paul McGrath is carving out his own little place in the wondrous world of indie cinema. Originally hailing from the town of Strabane in Northern Ireland, McGrath is known for playing intense characters who bring a unique blend of energy to the story and to the narrative.
With his fervent steel gaze that pierces through those sharing the screen, a reminiscence from his days as an authoritarian stage hypnotist, McGrath exudes a committed and resolute demeanour whenever it is his turn to shine in the scene. With characters that are both stoic, strong men and vulnerable victims, McGrath expertly fills the screen with a weighty presence that is both hard to miss and difficult to ignore. As an audience you simply believe the character he portrays, he goes wherever the role demands, as one Director aptly put it, “He has a superlative understanding of the art and craft of acting and can evoke more with one small look in his eye than many actors can with their entire range”. Director, writer- K.Collins. Certainly an actor to look out for on our screens
One of McGrath’s most recent roles filmed internationally in the Bavarian region of South Germany, was that of the upcoming Irish artist Ben Benner, in the thriller, The Widow’s Moon. To be released later this year. It is in this role that McGrath is truly given a chance to shine. Playing the role of an aimless artist looking for international stardom. McGrath makes the role his own as he dives completely into the dark obsessive side of the character. He anchors the slow burn thriller through a performance that is both edgy, unnerving and sometimes downright scary. Played beautifully and softly alongside a strong German born co-star Hanni Bergesch. Both actors have a powerful onscreen chemistry that draws the audience inward, evoking a voyage of discovery for the viewer. The Widow’s Moon, has a storyline which will have the audience discussing, what is reality and when it has crossed that line. Beautifully portrayed by both leads in terms of the unfolding through line.
In Katharine Collins’s feature, A Dying Breed, McGrath plays the lead antagonist with fervour and resolve. He makes the viewers question his character morals to the depths of hell. With his mannerisms, facial movement and all-around status within the scenes, he makes his presence very notable when it’s his turn to shine. McGrath’s character Simon Collins, is an interesting deviation for a performer who has frequently played protagonists and at times we see softness yet a narcissistic side to his character. It had me questioning how much power does he really want within the four walls, and why does he not just take everything, including the females. This highlighted an excellent piece of writing by Collins. However, he brings the same energy here as he does to all of his roles, elevating the entire film in the process. Being a survival thriller, A Dying Breed needs a great villain and McGrath’s electrifying performance ensures a memorable antagonist for the audience to loathe or love. .A cast of several actors who produce a symbiotic performance to a simple tragic storyline.
One of the most popular roles that put McGrath on the map was in the Turner Classic Award winning short film ‘Endgame’, based on the violence and civil disobedience in Northern Ireland. McGrath plays a family man, Martin, who finds himself caught up in an undercover war. Eventually kidnapped and tortured, it has him sincerely begging for his innocence and life. As the Times Film Critic Wendy Ide, put it, “A sucker punch of an ending, powerful and unsettling stuff. It was voted runner-up winner by a panel of judges including, Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman, Dame Helen Mirren, Julian Fellowes, Gurinder Chadha. It was this confirmation that brought McGrath to the fore. There can be no qualm that he brings a level of earnestness to the role, and that his underplayed on screen presence helps elevate the entire story. As the film rests on his shoulders alone, McGrath gives a tour de force performance of a man out of his depth in the giving situation. With his character meeting a surprising end as the narrative simmers down, the most pertinent takeaway from the entire short is his own performance. It is not only nuanced but also has the required emotions to empathise with the character and the unique situation that he finds himself in.
McGrath also had a memorable albeit brief role in the television series , The Invisibles. He played a alongside Warren Clarke and Anthony Head, two renowned actors of British Film and TV. With his suited clean cut persona, he held his own and dominated the scene as his character dictated. McGrath brings his character Hollins, to life with resolve as he beats the two protagonists to a pulp. He seems to be enjoying himself in the role as well. It was one of those roles that had me wanting to see his character return for retribution.
McGrath is now set to star in a new television series that will surely lift him to the heights of being a household name. Carthago will be shooting in Columbia for three months this year. The TV series mixes suspense with wit. A modern take on a classic 1940s prison of war camp set in a remote jungle in Africa, making it an inescapable hell. Written by well-established Emmy Award film makers. Reshef Levi and Tomer Shani. It’s set to be a hit with viewers of this genre. McGrath plays the head officer in the camp, second in command, his character originally from Ireland is notorious among the prisoners for his cruelty. An anxiety ridden character who uses violence to command control over the camp, his character also suffers from PTSD. A role that McGrath can adapt and play with ease. This genre and style of the Inglorious Bastards meets The Great Escape, should prove to be another success for the team as the Israelis produce written shows which are winning over millions of viewers from around the world.
Possessing an incredible ability to don wildly varying roles coupled with a look that is easy on the eyes, Shaun Paul McGrath is just getting started. As the streaming wars rev up and take over the world, we hope McGrath shows up in many future roles from the many hours of content sure to inundate our screens.
From heist plots to action thrillers to slow burn dramas that put characters front and centre, McGrath has done it all with flying colours. With each role, he has challenged himself immensely only to emerge more nuanced and more refined, and to borrow a quote from one of his previous director comments, “you simply cannot keep your eyes off him when he’s on screen.” Shaun Paul McGrath is an actor who thankfully has finally returned to our screens, yet we feel he’s always been there. His style and on screen presence is recognisable and unforgettable. He is certainly destined to be alongside our greatest talent base. An actor of incredible range and with a plethora of shorts and feature length productions under his belt, he is ready to embark on his latest role as the lead antagonist in the new upcoming television series, Carthago, set to film this year. We anticipate to see much more of this talented Irishman in the near future.
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