Muddy meets Connor McIntyre
We know him as Corrie villain, Pat Phelan, but actor Connor McIntyre shows Muddy a softer side with his new art show, Funny Weather, opening in Plymouth this month.
With a central role from 2013 to 2018 as arch villain, Pat Phelan, in the super-soap Coronation Street, actor Connor McIntyre must be one of the most recognisable faces to come to Devon.
Fortunately, Connor couldn’t be more different from the scheming Pat – and thank the Lord for that (Corrie fans, you know what I mean…) He’s also a talented artist, with a private studio in Plymouth, and this month he’s launching a fabulous new art exhibition, Funny Weather, in the Ocean City.
Muddy goes behind the scenes and asks the big questions few would dare…
Hello Connor! Congrats on your forthcoming art exhibition. But what’s a lovely Liverpudlian like you doing down here with the Southern Jessies?
Ha! People always think that. Actually I’ve lived in Devon for over 25 years, first at the Barbican in Plymouth and now I’m close to Royal William Yard.
The poor end, not the posh bit.
I came to visit my brother who was in the Navy and I loved it. Plymouth has a real pull for me, especially The Hoe. I lived on the Barbican for thirteen years before I moved to the Yard and The Hoe really signifies the city for me with its huge panorama, and prospect of sea and sky.
How did you get into acting?
I started acting very late, in my thirties – I was selling cars in Germany at the time but I was in Plymouth and I wandered in the Barbican Theatre where they were rehearsing a Steven Berkoff play. I was like, ‘What’s all this then?” It just blew me away, like one of those falling in love moments.
You seem like a great guy – is it hard to play a heinous character like Pat who murders, robs, and blackmails people for sex?
You know, the villains really are always the best characters to play. I’m a very lucky guy – I was invited to do three episodes and I thought, ‘Okay I’ll go along and make a bit of paint money’. But Pat’s character got real traction with viewers right from the start, and despite the complaints on Ofcom – this was pre-watershed remember, even Michael Parkinson said the storyline made him recoil – the writers really got behind the character and allowed him to grow.
Did you ever get people stopping you in your civvies to have a stern word?
Pat did evoke a strong reaction for sure, but I think people could see there was a good guy in there struggling to get out. One of the most memorable was when I met this couple and they said, “We’ll forgive you everything if you tell us just one thing – did you love Eileen or not?”
And did you, er I mean, did Pat love Eileen?
Well the evidence is there – when he thinks something bad has happened to Eileen because of his actions, he’s really upset.
You were on Corrie on and off over five years but when they finally finished Pat off, he gets stabbed and his ashes end up going in a bin. A fitting end?
When I came back for the second stint they really ramped up the storyline but it’s your job as an actor to make even the most controversial storylines work. Once the body count starts to rise, you know the character’s clock is ticking. It’s what people expect from soaps.
Of all the Corrie actors you worked with who was most different from their onscreen persona?
I’d have to say David Neilson who plays Roy Cropper. He’s almost the opposite to the character he plays – such a cool guy and very smart. It’s no wonder he’s been on the show for such a long time (since 1995!)
Barbara Knox (Rita) is always on the money. She’s brilliant – knows her stuff upside down, which is amazing when you think they’re recording six days a week.
How do you find time to learn all the lines? Can you squeeze some in between takes?
It depends on the storyline, if you’re in a lot of them you’ll spend all weekend learning your lines. There’s no time when you’re there – so you’d better be ready when you hit that floor!
What do you prefer – acting or painting?
As time goes on I see less difference between the two. As an actor I’m at the mercy of the powers that be, you know, I’m getting older so I think that James Bond job has escaped me! But in some ways art and acting are the same thing, although one pays better and you get the adulation and the awards, but with art I get to be in the studio which I love. Painting is other side to my personality.
How did you get into art?
A bit like I got into acting – by accident! Like I said, I’m a lucky guy. It was an acting exercise at the Robert Lenkiewicz studio. He said, “Make every mark a thought and every thought a clear one.” It really struck me because actors work a lot with intention, and it’s the same for artists – it’s the real you showing what you choose to expose. I was in the middle of doing a Fine Art Degree when the part on Coronation Street came up, and then I went on to do an MA.
What’s the inspiration for the new show?
Before Funny Weather, my art was fairly abstract. This is more of a direct commentary on where we’re at right now in the world. It’s carnivalesque, with cut-out characters and a sense of disconnection. Things are very abnormal, nobody knows which way is up, or who to believe, even long-held reliable sources. There’s this feeling of flux, with Ukraine, and how quickly we’ve turned to war in Europe, American politics, Brexit. How do we make sense of any of it?
Will people be able to say hello to you at the show?
Yes, I’m there every day, 11 till 4pm.
How do you feel about selfies?
Yes, I’ve had to learn about selfies! I’m fine with them. In fact, I’d be insulted if you leave without one.
WANT MORE, MORE, MORE? Here’s where to see the show (and get that selfie with Connor)
Funny Weather, St Saviours Hall, Lambhay Hill, Barbican, Plymouth PL1 2NS, 11am – 4pm daily, Mon 9 May – Mon 23 May 2022.