Men We Admire: Mark O’Brien

Actor and filmmaker Mark O?Brien is set to reprise his fan favourite role as Des Courtney during the sixth and final season of CBC?s Republic of Doyle. Audiences will also get a taste of Mark?s directorial side once again when he directs the second episode of the new season airing October 2014.

Debuting in 2010, Republic of Doyle is an award winning comedy-drama series set in St. John?s, Newfoundland. The show follows private investigator and former police officer Jake Doyle (Allan Hawco) and his father Malachy Doyle (Se?n McGinley) whose cases find them involved in all sorts of dealings ? not all of them on the right side of the law.

Mark?s character, Des Courtney, is a young Private Investigator, going from a delinquent to a valued member of Doyle & Doyle Investigations, specializing in the technological side of things.

Mark can be recognized for his roles on several hit series including NBC?s Hannibal, where he played a recurring role as Randall Tier, a psychotic serial killer. He has also been featured on episodes of CBC?s Murdoch Mysteries and Syfy?s Warehouse 13. In 2010, Mark starred in the Sundance Film Festival selection Grown Up Movie Star alongside Orphan Black?s, Tatiana Maslany.

Recently, Mark produced and starred in DENNIS, a short psychological thriller inspired by true events. Hitchhiking the Irish Loop of Newfoundland in the summer of 2010, director Nicole Dorsey learned of a series of unsolved kidnappings and murders that occurred through the 1980s. In this short she follows the story of Dennis, played by Mark, capturing his developing psychosis. DENNIS leaves viewers privy to an unsolved case and the possible reasoning for its occurrence.

Mark?s directorial credits can be seen in select episodes of Republic of Doyle, as well as nine short films including Better People, which showcased in 10 film festivals across Canada and the United States, and Sweetieface, seen in film festivals all across the country. Both films received critical acclaim, winning multiple awards including Best Short Film at the 2013 and 2014 WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival. Mark currently has the three features in post-production including The End of Days at Godfrey Global Inventory, Len & Company and The Dark Stranger.

Mark Head shot 1Name: Mark O’Brien

Age: 30

Occupation: Actor/Filmmaker

Pets? A cat named Louie

Car(s)? When I return home, it’ll be a 2011 BMW 328i

Gadgets? iPhone 5

Sports? Hockey, Basketball

How did you get started on your current career/lifestyle path?

When I was around 14 years old, my buddies and I started making short films with our parents’ video cameras. First we did it just to make each other laugh, but by the time I was around 18 or 19, we’d made about 30 of these little films and I began to take it more seriously. I started learning about editing and what’s needed to make a scene communicate what was needed, etc. Then I started acting professionally, and I’ve used that as a grounds to make films, fund films and learn more.

Did you have any mentors who helped steer you on this path?

I worked with a producer at CBC named Victoria King who helped me a lot when I started out. I was the host of a kid’s show and she really helped show me the ropes of the business.

How has your work contributed to a) your development as a person and/or b) the lives of others?

I think my work has made me more aware of who I am and what interests me. Once you know that stuff, things become a little clearer in general. It really blows off a lot of confusion in your life and helps you become stronger and more capable. Consequently, I think that leads to being in a position to help others and acknowledge others a little more readily, because you’re at peace with yourself.

If you had one piece of advice for someone just entering your field, what would it be?

Learn everything possible about your craft and take every opportunity you can to grow in your field. Be nice to everyone you work with, and treat everyone equally. Conversely, don’t work with people you don’t respect.

Mark Head shot 2Do you have a personal work philosophy?

Your passion will inform you.

What do you do for fun?

Travel with my wife, play hockey, watch films.

What motivates or inspires you?

I’m inspired by people who are acknowledging of others. We’re all in this together and I think that’s such an important aspect of life. Artistically, I’m motivated by artists who’ve put themselves in a position to choose their own work.

What has been your greatest achievement (personally, professionally or both)?

Marrying my Georgina Reilly (my wife) is far and away my greatest personal achievement. Professionally, I would say the fact that I’ve been a working artist for 10 years. I’ve never really had to have another job.

What is the one thing you hope to achieve?

Artistic & creative freedom

What is your super power?


Who’s your hero?

John Cassavetes, Tupac Shakur

What are you reading (or watching) these days?

I watch many many films. The last film I watched was Contempt by Jean-Luc Godard. I’m currently reading The Book of Laughter & Forgetting by Milan Kundera as well as Unbelievable – a biography of Notorious BIG.

Mark Head Shot 5Insert any piece of advice, anecdote, villain story, funny story, joke, recipe or life lesson you’d like to share with our readers.

It’s insane to me that I ended up becoming an actor. When I was younger I wanted to be an accountant, then an NHL hockey player, then a rapper, and then an astronaut. Now, I can pretend to be all of those!

Thinking back to a time when you had to make a hard choice, how did you decide, and do you feel, in retrospect, that you made the right move?

I recently moved to Los Angeles. It was a huge decision, but myself and my wife immediately felt like it was the right thing for us to do. The decision was simple – where’s the movie making capital of the world?

If you had it all to do over again, would you change anything?

I wish I learned to play a musical instrument at a young age.

What’s next for you? What’s your next big idea, project etc.?

I’m directing an episode of Republic of Doyle right now. I’ve been on the show for 5 years and this is my first directing effort on the show. I’m also shooting season six of the show right now. I also have a rap film I’ve been working on for the past year.

What one piece of advice would you give to your own son (hypothetical or otherwise) in the hope of making him a better man?

Your passion will inform you.


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