With a multi-hyphenated career as an actor, director, TV presenter, writer and chef, Simon Delaney is what you call a genius. All around the creative force is known for its high-octane energy, but it was only when we met, on Friday morning at the Gate Theater in Dublin, that the sheer scale came to light.
I need to do four different things at the same time,” he admits when the conversation turns to his amazing work ethic. “I would be unemployed if I only did three things. I am very proud that no one has ever called me lazy,” he adds. “I can’t stand laziness.”
It’s fair to say Delaney wants to keep busy. He wrote a 126,000-word novel in six weeks in lockdown and has regularly combined his role as Ireland AM reporter with international film roles, voiceover work, corporate gigs and cooking at Simon’s food truck.
But he does not deal with state or wealth, nor does he seek to add strings to the bow just for the sake of it, he tells me.
“I like to work, but you have to with four kids and a mortgage, and that’s why I tried to work,” he says frankly. “And touch wood, I’ve been doing this job for 23 years now and I’ve never been out of work.” [I’m] ready for anything, obviously. My manager once surrounded me and asked me to dress up as a Pot Noodle, walking up and down Grafton Street.”
Was he thinking? “Away! Because I didn’t have an ass in my pants. I said, “No Jesus, Lorraine, I can’t.” I said : Let me know that I am a king because I am there. I even asked her what flavor the noodle pot was, to make a difference to the king!
We are here today to discuss Delaney’s role in the production of Arthur Miller’s Gate Pricein which he plays the somewhat more serious role of Victor Franz, a cop who is approaching retirement age.
The perennial story, set on the top floor of a Manhattan brownstone in the 1960s, tells of two brothers who meet for the first time in 16 years to sell the remainder of their parents’ estate.
“Those are the ages of the family and the finances and how different family members remember their events differently,” he explains. “He is making a sacrifice because, as we have found, he is an older brother [Walter] he came to college, got his degree and became a doctor. But when their mother died, Victor chose to stay and consult his father.
“Going to college can’t afford a job as a cop. In Victor’s eyes he left Walter, but of course as Victor remembers. The circumstances are different and that is so clear.
In it also comes a stony stone of good dividends. “It’s still relevant, people are still falling over the furniture, because this isn’t it?” he says “There’s another thing you said…There are conversations in the story that we’ve all had with other family members, moments of guilt, ignorance of guilt, that’s all you can say to a family member. If you told someone on the street, you would be arrested.
Delaney, who is 52, says he can recognize his roles in both brothers. He also understands the loss of a parent’s heart. His mother died when he was 19 and he died seven years later. “
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My little sister was only 13 when her mother died and only 19 when her father died,” she said. “My brother was in Germany. My other sister just started in the civil service and I think I was driving a van for Sam’s Hire or something and I was doing my shows at night in amateur performances around the country. But we needed to pay €160 a week, because we had a telephone in the house and gas was in the meter. We had to start this together and crack it – and the four of us have had the closest time so far.
However, having lost both parents at a young age, he recognizes himself in the world in a very different way.
“It’s scary, and the most important thing for me is that you become completely helmsman. My mom and dad never saw me do any of this stuff. My father saw me doing a few amateur musicals and he was so proud. But he never saw me at the gate or in the West. I have this, and still do to this day, I touch the back wall of any theater I enter, and I say a prayer to my mother and father before I leave.
Delaney and his wife Lisa have four children: Cameron, Elliot, Isaac and Lewis. The fact that their parents had never been married, or had met their children, still reached him.
“I remember when Cameron was doing Communion and I was sitting in the church and I started crying and he said, ‘Is that okay?’ and premieres and whatever, but it’s not real-life stuff. And that happens once a week, still, and my mom’s been dead for 30 odd years.
Delaney says he got his work ethic from his late father, who was a printer by trade and a nighttime musician.
“He worked Monday, Friday and Friday and always had a half day on Friday, and then he would work a gig on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night and be back at work on Monday. Music was his passion, but he had to feed his kids.
At the age of 16, Delaney got his first job, driving a forklift truck in the factory where his father worked. He can vividly remember the day he first borrowed £81, and the plans he had to lay it out.
“I remember sitting in the car with my dad and looking at the paycheck and thinking, ‘I’m going to have a leather jacket, Duran Duran’s new album is coming out… I said, ‘What am I going to do with this money?’ and he said, “I will tell you what to do with it, when you go home to the bank and that money, and then you will give your bad.”
“I said, ‘What am I? Forty pounds? What?’ He said, ‘Clothes, school books, lunches, dinners, meals, gifts.
“Work ethic is very important to me,” he continues. “And that’s what I try to instill in my children. My oldest son works at the moment and loves it. It’s just getting out of bed and putting on your boots and going to work – like what else are you going to do? I’d go crazy if I didn’t have to. “
But still it is a lots work How does it hold so many plates without spinning?
“They say, ‘Where’s the time?’ I don’t know where I got it,” he said. “They don’t have a secret formula. Maybe it’s a nightmare… Five hours [of sleep] me, just less. But that’s from the kids. In my early twenties I was a night owl, but as soon as I got into this game, in my mid to late 20s, that changed.
“I was a sales representative for eight years selling life insurance, office equipment, advertising, print, cars, everything. f I am the king’s dearest seller. I am still a seller. Unless I’m not selling photocopiers anymore, I’m selling this brand – this is what I can offer, this is what I can do, when you need me, when do I start?”
If there is a secret to success, perhaps it is an aversion to procrastination.
“What I don’t accept from my own, or really anyone, is tomorrow I will do,” he admits. “Do them now! ‘I need to send this letter…’ Do it now! Things like renewing the car, I always open the envelope, take out the laptop and do it. My skin crawled knowing there was a renewal notice.”
He identifies this character as Virgo, the star known as the sign of perfection and order.
“I mentally write on a to-do list before bed. And I also think about the tables that are there,” he says. you have to attack it.”
His support is also crucial, the group says. “I am surrounded by strong women in my life. My wife, my two sisters. I have had the same for 23 years, Lorraine [Brennan]She is one of my best friends, and she is an amazing woman. All my managers have been women. Without help they do what they do…”
It also helps that Lisa, a former dancer/choreographer, takes on a precarious entertainment business. She was heavily pregnant with her second child when her manager called her in New York to tell her that she was out of a role in an American political and legal TV drama. A good wife. He had a few hours to collect and get to the airport, and his wife implicitly understood what it was.
Then there was the time that he bribed one of the tickets to the Cannes Film Festival in Los Angeles to “use the f***ing job”. Lisa surprised him with a positive pregnancy test before she got on the plane. He had the gig booked within two weeks. There is a sense that Delaney is enjoying rising to the challenge.
“But sometimes I didn’t bring back the bacon,” he adds, before recalling a career setback when he narrowly missed out on a seven-year US TV role with “funny characters.”
“I cried all over the house because it was the first time in my life where I went to do something and I didn’t do it. I f*** the king will be broken “. Work doesn’t always pay, muses. “But if you have a good work ethic, work will put you in more places where things will be paid.”
Now, however, there are more career payoffs than words. Delaney has just finished filming a BBC/Showtime series based on The Magdalene Laundry; Woman on the Wall, in which he co-stars with Ruth Wilson and Daryl McCormack, but by driving, and constantly driving to bring down the ‘bacon’, he continues on a rampage. He thinks and plans and plots and dreams and, as is his nature, he is open to discuss every opportunity.
What about? Recently, the Late Show? Will he step into Ryan Tubridy’s shoes?
“In all good faith and heart, I cannot sit here and say, ‘God no,'” he admits. I was not considered. But as a child, why should I not say? If I’m willing to put dressing on the Noodle Pot, I’ll happily do it Show the game. This is where I am.
The Price by Arthur Miller runs at the Gate Theater from April 13 to June 3