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TV Quickfire: Irish actor Eoin Mackin on starring in Netflix series Nightflyers

Netflix sci-fi series Nightflyers, based on a novella by Game of Thrones author George RR Martin, is set in the year 2093 and follows a team of scientists as they embark on a journey to find other life forms. We quizzed Irish star Eoin Macken (35) about it

Nightflyers Dublin star Eoin Macken has appeared on TV in Fair City Merlin
Georgia Humphreys

WHEN DID YOU FIRST HEAR ABOUT NIGHTFLYERS?

It was November 2017, and I ended up having a conversation with Mike Cahill [Nightflyers director] about it. We talked about his interpretations and how he wanted to film it, and what the show meant from a visual language point of view. And also from a humanitarian point of view; the philosophy of going to try to explore extraterrestrial intelligence and life and what that might mean.

WHAT APPEALED TO YOU ABOUT YOUR CHARACTER, KARL?

I think being an astronaut seems quite scary. And if you are doing that on a mission to possibly try and find unknown creatures who may or may not want to murder you, that is scary in itself. You have got to be in a certain mindset. I thought that was interesting, why people want to do that.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE IDEA OF SPACE EXPLORATION NOW?

I have mixed feelings about it because space exploration is really fascinating and important, but if we were to meet intelligent life I don't necessarily know if it would be a good thing either way. We, as a species, have explored the Earth and torn everywhere to pieces and not really respected anything about it. I would be surprised if we would do something different if we did actually meet any aliens.

HUMANS DON'T HAVE A STRONG TRACK RECORD?

We don't. We are not great at general cooperation and global communication. That's what's interesting in Nightflyers – who ends up being in charge and how people communicate, what sacrifices people are willing to make and whether people are going to put their own selfish agendas [first], as opposed to what is actually better for the greater good and even for the greater good of those on the ship.

WHEN FILMING SOMETHING THIS INTENSE, DO YOU HAVE FUN DURING BREAKS ON SET?

Yes and no... only when it calls for it. Nightflyers is the kind of show where there is a certain gravitas attached to it. We also had a certain time frame to shoot an awful lot and the show was very big in scope. I think doing something like that you need to be in a certain head space, so I find it quite affecting, and it is quite draining because it is very heavy and claustrophobic.

THIS SHOW TOOK YOU TO COMIC CON IN THE US. HOW WAS THAT?

I love Comic-Cons, they are great fun. They are a bit bats**t and it's awesome. I have been engaged in that kind of fan culture since [hit BBC series] Merlin; I have always really liked all the fans of Merlin. You get fans who are really passionate about a project and it's been fun to talk to them and meet them. You do that in Comic-Cons and you get to see how shows affect people and to properly have chats about it.

DO YOU PREFER DOING TV OR FILM?

No, it's not really a conscious choice; I am doing a film in March. It has been kind of circumstantial, when you find a character or a project that works. You spend more time on a character in a TV show, yes – and you have to be more open to things changing. A film, you have a finite set of parameters to push your character though. But for me, once you understand where your character is in the first place then in doesn't really matter what scenario they put your character into, as long as it doesn't change the basis of your character.

:: Nightflyers is on Netflix now.

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