Follow Us on Twitter

The Town - Owen Burke interview

Owen Burke

Interview by Rob Carnevale

OWEN Burke talks to IndieLondon exclusively about filming The Town for director Ben Affleck and why the role offered this Charlestown native an opportunity to turn his life around.

He also reflects on working with co-stars such as Oscar nominated Jeremy Renner, the late great Pete Postlethwaite and where his acting career might take him next…

Q. Hi Owen, congratulations on The Town, it’s an amazing film and your performance is brilliant. The film was definitely one of last year’s best! What do you think of co-star Jeremy Renner’s Oscar nomination?
Owen Burke: Thank you. I couldn’t be happier for Jeremy. This is the second time he’s been nominated for an Academy Award, so that speaks volumes as to how talented and passionate that guy really is.

Q. How was working with Ben Affleck as both star and director? What did you like about him as a co-star? And how tough is he as director?
Owen Burke: As a director, Ben made it very easy for me to be comfortable on camera which is something I never thought I’d be able to do.

Q. What do the people of Charlestown think of the area’s depiction on film?
Owen Burke: Everyone that I’ve spoken to about The Town is a big fan. People here are proud of the film, there’s no dislike toward it because bank robbery is something that’s died out here for the most part.

Q. You claim to have done a lot of bad things growing up… what made you decide that enough was enough?
Owen Burke: Sitting in a cell all day wasting away, not being able to do much of anything was quite the unnecessary learning experience. Thankfully, I only wasted a few months of my life. Also, and more importantly, really seeing the affect my actions and behaviour had on so many others. Making a living off of the misery of others is something I couldn’t be a part of anymore.

Q. What were you doing before you became involved with The Town?
Owen Burke: Before I became involved in The Town I was recently released from jail, working landscaping “off the books” at the baseball field in Charlestown that I’d played on as a kid. I was (and still am today) a full time student at a community college, trying to get a full time job and piece my life back together.

Q. How hard is it to break away from the type of lifestyle depicted in the film?
Owen Burke: I can’t speak for anyone other than myself because my circumstances make it a hell of a lot easier to break away than 99% of people committing crime. At first it was not hard, however; after a while when the going gets tough, it can be very difficult to fight off the temptation fast money brings.

Owen Burke

Q. Do you know any bank robbers?
Owen Burke: I know several guys who were convicted in a court of law of robbing banks.

Q. What does your father think of the film and your performance? Did you see the film with him? I gather you’re indebted to him for telling you to go back and join the queue for casting?
Owen Burke: I was able to bring my father, Matt, to the Fenway Park premiere. My father felt the film was “very well done”, and he gives credit to Renner especially. He also appreciated the dedication to the hard working, blue collar citizens of Charlestown like himself.

Q. How has The Town enabled you to turn your life around?
Owen Burke: The Town introduced me to a passion that brings cheer and enlightenment into other people lives. The Town helped me put my past into perspective even more and keeps me motivated to stay on the up and up.

Q. Is acting something you’re going to pursue now?
Owen Burke: Yes. I’ve booked a few roles since The Town. Working on a film gives me a feeling of satisfaction which in turn makes me want to work on another, and being better in the next than the previous.

Q. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve taken away from your experience on The Town?
Owen Burke: Listen to my father.

Q. I don’t think you share a scene with him, but did you get the chance to meet the late great Pete Postlethwaite at all?
Owen Burke: I met Pete Postlethwaite once. I shared one scene with Ben, Jeremy, Slaine and Mr Postlethwaite during which his character, “Fergie”, introduced and explained the Fenway heist. My close friend Dennis McGlaughlin who played “Rusty”, impressively I must add, spent much more time with Mr Postlethwaite than I did, and he’s told me that Mr Postlethwaite was one of the most genuinely nice men he’s ever met.

The Town

Q. What was your most enjoyable day on the set?
Owen Burke: My most enjoyable day on set was when we filmed “Dez” entering Fenway Park before the heist went sour. I worked with Ben Affleck and Robert Elswit a lot that day, both of whom are amongst the best at what they do. That day I decided I was going to pursue acting after The Town.

Q. How was the experience of attending the film’s premiere at Fenway Park?
Owen Burke: The experience was amazing. As I was sitting down in my seat before the film started I remember thinking about all the ball games I’d seen there and how I dreamed of playing there as a kid. I wasn’t quite playing for the Sox, but seeing all of the people in attendance to watch something I was a part of making, I imagined, must be a similar feeling.

Q. What advice would you offer to anyone wanting to follow in your footsteps as an actor – especially since that career path maybe didn’t seem achievable from the outset?
Owen Burke: I say if it’s something that you want to do, do it ASAP. Take acting classes. Watch good quality movies, the internet has sites that have movie scripts available for free. Copy down scenes and practice them in the mirror or with someone else who’s interested in acting. No one is born a Hollywood actor.

Read our review of The Town

The Town is out o Blu-ray and DVD on Monday, January 31, 2011.