Ep 104:  City on a Hill Actor, Mark O'Brien 

If you've been watching City on a Hill this year on Showtime there is no doubt you've been riveted by Mark's portrayal of Jimmy Ryan, the slippery brother to Jonathan Tucker's Frankie Ryan.  But what you'll know after listening to our conversation is that, not unlike every other guest on 10,000 "No"s, the quality of his work is mostly the result of Mark's sheer will, passion and tenacity.  

He's been a series regular on AMC's critically acclaimed Halt and Catch Fire, Amazon's The Last Tycoon, and did six years prior to moving to the US in his native Canada on the CBC series Republic of Doyle, for which he was nominated for two Canadian Comedy Awards for Best Actor in a Television Series as well as a nomination for Best Director of a Television Series (they let him behind the camera because he's also an Award Winning Filmmaker for several short films he's written, directed, produced, edited and starred in).  He's also starred in Denis Villenueve's Arrival, The Front Runner opposite Hugh Jackman directed by Jason Reitman, Noah Baumbach's next untitled project, opposite Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson. But the real joy of this conversation is the wisdom and experience and the lessons that we can all learn from the journey Mark took from the tiny town of Paradise in Newfoundland all the way to Hollywood. 



How Mark landed City on a Hill and why it’s such a special role for him, (4:05). “So I booked my own flight from Atlanta to New York, put myself up in a hotel for two days and literally just went over it and over it and over it and over it...,” (11:05). “I wanted a role like this for as long as I could remember...”, (11:41). “If things were coming easily to me... ... hand me anything.“ (14:13). “If there’s something more interesting you can do...”, 16:53). “Things seep in you sometimes don’t know where they come from...”, (18:20). Growing up in a tiny community with no connections to show business, (23:10). “We would edit with two VCRs... ... a way we can do it”, 25:08 – 26:08). After all of his filmmaking, not getting into film school and having to go with the flow, (28:20). With no agent and not much happening locally, Mark catches a crazy break.... that takes a year, (30:58). “I knew I could do it...”, (32:48). Going into massive debt to make movies when nothing was paying him, (35:30). Watching Edward Norton in Primal Fear and thinking, “oh, that’s a performance,” (38:10). “Eventually someone’s gonna think I can do it the way I think I can do it,” (39:34). PWI - Passion Will Inform, (40:02). “If you have passion, Will and information, you’ll be fine,” (43:11). The move from Canada to Hollywood, (44:10). Why American filmmaking can take more risks than Canadian filmmaking, (45:02). How fatherhood has changed Mark’s work and approach, (48:23). The advantages and disadvantages of two actors in the family (husband/wife), (54:30). How being a filmmaker has helped Mark understand “no”s as an actor, (57:36). The secret to Mark’s chamelian-like shifts with accents and vibe, (1:01:00). “Quote about Stella Adler and imagination and films with buddies”, (1:01:40 – 1:02:28). Discussion about Gary Oldman and choices as an actor to be big and bold, and sometimes quiet and invisible, (1:05:10). “I still find that you need to know your role in the movie,” (1:05:43). “Advice to younger self... ... the whole time,” (1:14:13 - 1:14:22). 



IMDB: Mark O'Brien Film / TV Credits 

Instagram: @MarkOBrienForeal 

Twitter: @MarkOBrienNL 

Video: How Mark Mastered the Boston Accent 

Video: More on how Mark played his Hot-Headed "City on a Hill" Character 



Ep 53: Emmy-Award Winner Richard Schiff, of The West Wing & The Good Doctor 

Ep 87:  How to Survive Being Killed Off a Sitcom Prematurely  

Ep 88: Mad Men & Parenthood's Emmy-Award-Winning Casting Director, 


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Matthew Del Negro