An actor’s life: Barry Ward, on fatherhood

From a street casting aged 13, to the lead in Ken Loach’s award-winning 2014 film Jimmy’s Hall, Barry Ward tells us about growing up in Dublin and his new role… as a father

This article was first published on The Early Hour in 2016.

Meet the actor, Barry Ward…

“I live with my partner Laura and our son Tom, 18 months. I never felt anything other than excitement about having a child; our careers (Laura is a film producer) neither complicated nor simplified it.

Babies have been born into and thrived in all manner of circumstances. We weren’t doing anything particularly unprecedented. Time away and less predictable working hours only add to the adventure.

We’re managing well on that front – a happy child is testimony – though we don’t discount future problems arising. So far, Tom being so young, he’s been able to travel with me for some jobs.

barry and tom

I’m not sure it’s possible or fair to compare looking after Tom to going out to work. They’re obviously very different and have their own rewards and challenges, and both influence each other. I’m very lucky in that I get to mix the two. I have spells of full time work for a period and then get to spend uninterrupted time with Tom. I look forward to doing both.

I never really decided to become an actor – at 13 I was street cast and I’ve been doing it ever since. I am pleased I stuck at it, as the rewards can be plentiful, however inconceivable this had been at times.

Barry Ward on childhood…

My upbringing was an average northside Dublin one: street football and mischief being our pastimes; musical tastes defined us. Me and mates were/are mad into The Beatles and The Band… and a lot of early 70s music.

City suburbs all over the western world share similarities despite, or maybe because of, their apparent lack of opportunity. I was street cast from a northside Dublin suburban school. I had no other plans. My only concern was playing football but always now, never ‘when I grow up’.

Barry and Tom 2

Contrary to public opinion, deciding which acting roles to take is not a reality. More often than not it is take a role or work at something else entirely. Accepting roles comes down to a lot of factors.

First, for me, is the script; then the role itself; director is obviously very important; location; time; money… and any one of these, if right, can override the rest, however unappealing. A lot of the same factors that anyone considers for any job, really. I guess I’m lucky my jobs are never life-long. You know they’ll be over soon.

Some jobs I’m happier with than others. Family (tv mini series) was my first and so means a lot to me. I also think it’s a very good show so there’s a certain pride in being part of that. Plus having no training or experience I’m just delighted to have pulled it off.

The first ever play I did, Buddleia, for the same reasons. More recently two movies I did are very special to me, Jimmy’s Hall and Blood Cells. Maybe because I feel like I invested more in those roles than any before.

What’s next for Barry Ward?

I’m currently between jobs… it’s a welcome break, but not really a break at all as I’m preparing for the next one and auditioning for others. Thumb twiddling is not something I’ve ever tried. Not active enough, and too easy.

Next up I’m shooting a short film and have a couple of features in the pipeline, depending of course on finances falling into place. Family growth is a possibility, we may leave it to Tom to decide. At 18 months he’s reluctant to give us an answer.

Advice for balancing work and family? Get on with it. And stop reading advice columns; there’s work to be done.”