The Young Offenders stars talk improv, Cork accents, and their unique friendship

Ireland and the world couldn’t get enough of Cork’s two young offenders, Jock and Conor, when they went off to find adventure and cocaine on the Wild Atlantic Way back in 2016. So it was a treat to hear that the duo had found themselves a home on the small screen with RTÉ. With less cocaine and more girls, bikes and fantastic one-liners, it’s fair to say we’re in for a treat.

A quick chat with Chris Walley (Jock) and Alex Murphy (Conor) ahead of the episode airing showed a bit more behind the rat moustaches and stench of masculinity. “Young lads love Conor and Jock,” Murphy told Hot Press. “On set, they prefer Jock - ‘cos Jock’s the cool one, he’s the hard one. Conor shows his emotional side so they don’t like me very much - which is a shame!”

Despite the film being released in 2016, reassuming their roles was as easy as throwing on a jacket, Walley explains. “Once you get the haircut and the moustache and put the tracksuit back on - you just can’t help but feel that character again.”

“The razored eyebrow was the bit that I thought was kinda cool,” adds Murphy with a grin.

Walley nods. “It’s nice when you get to do something because of the job that you secretly think is really cool. I liked the haircuts this time around as well…”

What will be different in the show compared to the film?

“In terms of the series,” says Walley, “you get to explore the character a bit more. It’s been written so well that it just showcases more elements to Conor and Jock. As an actor, it’s great to explore that.”

“This focuses more on the daily struggles of the pair,” chimes Murphy. “It might not be as big a deal as going down to West Cork, but it’s a big deal to them.”

A big deal to them, obviously involves - spoilers incoming - stealing lead off the roof of a building in Cork and talking about blow-up dolls, before haring away from Sergeant Healy who is still of the belief that he’ll catch the boys in the act of trouble. Here, the actors reveal that the majority of dialogue in that scene was improvised - a common theme throughout the filming for the series and film.

“The best thing you can have from a scene partner when you’re acting across from them is that they’ll always give you something to work with. In improv, you never know what you’re going to get… When it’s just the two of us doing improv, where it’s a scene like that and you’re being introduced to the characters, you can really talk about what you want. As long as you’re hitting the narrative beats, then you can go real mad. And it does go really mad. Some of the stuff Alex was saying… really funny stuff.”

But it’s actors like this who can sell even the most unexciting and polite phrases too. “You’d be surprised what people’s favourite lines are, like really - what I thought, would be mundane,” Murphy ponders. One person adored a moment from the film, where Conor complains about chicken - “It’s dry like.” Here, both lads turn and look at each other in bewilderment. Is it the thick Cork accent? Is it the character? Some weirdly niche deadpan comedy?

“We do have a particular sense of humour but luckily it travels,” Murphy considers. “I think it’s a comedy that is Irish - but these characters are everywhere. It’s just nice to see them in such a particular culture. Cork is very specific. I think people just seem to like how it is and how different it is from a lot of other places.”

Walley thinks about this too. “Yeah, I like watching TV where you can feel the community or where it’s shot. It’s generic but like, you know what it is. Like Happy Valley on BBC… Aye, I do watch it, yeah! (laughs)”

The Young Offenders airs every Thursday on RTE2 at 9.35pm.


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