Hanging with Bono and the U2 boys, squiring Taylor Swift and plotting his first ever Dublin show, musician-turned-actor Reeve Carney has certainly been flying high since he played Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark.
Today he’s grappling with the enviable problem of whether he should be considered an actor or musician first but back in the day, Reeve Carney earned a living laying down cheesy jingles. Not only that, he also made a few quid impersonating a perma-shaded Irish rock star.
“When I was 19 I used to get paid to sing demos in the style of Bono!” he confesses.
So you’d think the New Yorker would find the penthouse suite in Bono and Edge’s Clarence Hotel to be a particularly surreal place to end up at the age of 30. It would explain why the fresh-faced New Yorker (he could still feature in a teen drama and not raise eyebrows) is such a ball of positive energy.
In reality, this is nowhere near the height of surreality.
Living in Dublin whilst portraying Dorian Gray in Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, he casually mentions he’s been spending time with U2 as they finish their new record.
“I actually had the opportunity to hang out him in the studio the other night. Watching them work, I’m like, ‘how are you guys still so hungry for this?’ That’s what’s crazy to me. It’s really inspiring to see guys who’ve had that much success still be like that. I’m not even sure I have that energy now!”
Carney, who bonded with the singer over the fact they are both “Beatles freaks”, even got some of that fabled Bono advice.
“He said that, when you’re dealing with record companies and all these people, you really have to have songs that are bulletproof. It doesn’t matter if it's a hit, unless everyone thinks it’s a hit at the label.”
In 2010, Reeve Carney secured the titular role in Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, the most expensive musical ever on Broadway. Scored by the U2 pair, eventually it had a popular run in New York but its genesis and early days were infamously shaky.
Bedevilled by technical difficulties and cast injuries, Carney admits there were times when he was concerned for the production.
“The funniest thing anyone ever asked me was ‘oh, you’re in Spider-Man – are you the one that got hurt or are you the understudy?’ Um, neither! It’s kinda crazy – a lot of the press helped us. No one ever landed on an audience member but the fact people said that made it end up being a sketch on Saturday Night Live. Wow! It was interesting.”
Carney left last September. “You could compare it to finishing high school. But also, because of some of the struggles we went through, it was an even a deeper type of bond. I think maybe (Spider-Man) stretched the boundaries of what people think of as being ‘Broadway’.”
His involvement stemmed from Julie Taymor, involved in both projects, spotting him performing with family band Carney in New York’s Mercury Lounge. Another example of his musical passion leading him down a different path came about when Taylor Swift stumbled upon Carney’s ‘Love Me Chase Me’ promo.
“I don’t know how that happened, but she said, ‘that guy would be really good for my video’ (2012’s ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’). I was happy to do it!”
Ms. Swift later invited Carney to accompany her to the 2013 VMAs (presumably to tackle Kanye if necessary). “At one point she went, ‘be careful or else they’re going to think we’re dating!’ I don’t think anyone would really have thought that. She’s a very lovely girl. I’m not someone who necessarily wants all of that attention. I wasn’t worried about that. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some really talented heavyweights in the music industry and I try to learn as much as I can.”
That knowledge will go into his debut solo album. “Probably my favourite record of all time is Paul McCartney’s Ram. That’s the approach I’m taking with this one. I think the release is probably going to be something that’s just all me.”