Colin O’Donoghue 101: an Irish gem with all ‘The Rite’ elements

By Saturday, March 12, 2011 Permalink 1

Colin O'Donoghue - photographed by:Shane Cowley

Heads were turning for different reasons that you might expect in the recently released exorcism thriller The Rite.” When Colin O’Donoghue appeared onscreen, certain segments of the audience—women, gay men—found it difficult to focus on Anthony Hopkins chewing the scenery.

The Irish actor plays a dispirited-yet-hunky young priest whose harrowing adventures with a Vatican exorcist (Hopkins) rekindles his damaged faith. Reviews for the film were mediocre at best, so it certainly helped to have O’Donoghue on hand to enliven the proceedings (in Roman Catholic circles, handsome priests are known as “Father What-a-Waste”).

Colin O'Donoghue as Michael Kovak in "The Rite" (Warner Bros)

Although “The Rite” was poorly received, O’Donohue received a PR boost nonetheless for his feature film debut. The 30-year-old was born in Drogheda, Ireland and has been acting professionally for the better part of a decade. He made his bones onstage in the U.K. and Ireland, and in half a dozen Irish dramas and soap operas, including highly rated series “The Clinic” and “Fair City.”

O’Donoghue also turned up in a season-three episode of “The Tudors” on the Showtime cable network. That role earned him meetings with eagle-eyed casting scouts and landed him a Hollywood agent.

“If you’re going to be Ireland’s next big movie star, it won’t hurt if you look like Cillian Murphy and Tom Cruise combined,” gushed IrishCentral.com in an interview published in January.

“I have no idea what way things are going to pan out,” he admits. “I don’t think you can ever really plan anything. This time last year I would never have thought I’d be doing a press junket for a movie and seeing my face on a billboard all over Hollywood. What I’ve already learned from this business is that you can’t really legislate for too much, you know?”

A bit of trivia: O’Donoghue also plays in a band called The Enemies, which has continued gigging even as he works in Hollywood. “They’re still playing without me and are probably even better without me,” he joked.

UPDATE (03/11/11): O’Donoghue’s star continues to rise. He was cast this week as the male lead in “Identity,” a drama pilot for ABC that apparently derives from a British program. Deadline.com notes the show “centers on an elite police unit formed to combat the explosion of identity-related crime.” O’Donoghue plays “an intensely private, psychologically insightful former undercover FBI agent who’s secretly never left his undercover identity behind.” None other than Angela Bassettcostars. We’ll know in a few months if “Identity” will be picked up to go to series next season.

CLICK HERE for the full IrishCentral.com profile.

CLICK HERE for Colin O’Donoghue’s official website.

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