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LONDON (AP) — Daryl McCormack is the zen master.

It’s not a new acting role or a level of spiritual enlightenment, it’s a nickname he got on set for being extremely laidback.

The Irish actor is having a busy and rewarding year with ensemble appearances on TV in brutal period drama “Peaky Blinders” and dark comedy thriller “Bad Sisters,” plus a star-making performance as the title character in the film “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande.”

McCormack portrays a sex worker hired by Emma Thompson’s frustrated widow character and the movie got them a best joint lead performance nomination at the British Independent Film Awards. This led to his first ceremony experience. He took his mom.

“I’ve never had awards season, so I’m just taking it as it comes, you know. This film was so small, and it’s received so much love. So for us to make it this far, to had such recognition and for there still to be a lot of love for the film is really, really lovely.”

“As far as personally, I’m just kind of taking it all in my stride and and enjoying the moment,” he said, smiling.

Among the honors McCormack has received during a standout career year is being named one of The Associated Press’ Breakthrough Entertainers of 2022, alongside stars including Iman Vellani, Tobe Nwigwe and Simone Ashley.

McCormack is on a short break from shooting BBC-Showtime series “The Woman in the Wall,” a gothic thriller that involves the Magdalene Laundries — church run institutions in Ireland for unmarried women and their children, which has been investigated for allegations of physical and sexual abuse.

Ruth Wilson’s character Lorna Brady had been placed in a laundry and wakes years later to find a dead body in her house. McCormack portrays Detective Colman Akande, the policeman on her trail.

McCormack calls it an “important” story that has been “intense, good and rewarding” to film.

Not that he minds hard work.

“I always like to pick projects that I believe in the message behind. In a way, if the work is tiring, it feels rewarding because you know that you’re doing something you care about. So you’re willing to go through any sense of tiredness or exhaustion because you’re wanting to do the story proud.”

And to relax, he has his weekend off to see friends and family.

This is McCormack’s support network, the people he turns to on the rare occasion that roles don’t go his way. That’s something that was more common when he was first out of drama school, though he’s worked pretty consistently since 2018.

“I’ve had rejection for sure” admits McCormack. “I wish I came out unscathed, but no.”

“There’s not many people in my family that are in the arts. So when I first was kind of going through things and jobs not coming my way or not getting past an audition, I had to kind of explain to them that this is just part of the journey really, it is part of the process. But once they understood that, then they were like, ‘OK, he’s fine.’”

He’s also started to get recognized more, which he reckons is “grand.”

“They all want selfies or, you know, they say, oh, you know, ‘My girlfriend loves the show. She won’t believe me if we don’t.’ So you just take a photo and it’s nice. It’s really fun.”

McCormack also gets Googled with people looking up his eye color (green), his background (bi-racial) or who he played in “Peaky Blinders” (Isaiah Jesus).

It’s something else he shrugs away.

“It’s kind of a natural part of the job. They’re curious to know who you are and where you’re from and all that stuff.”

Next he’d like to play an American character and could be filming in the U.S. next year — he’s confident his accent skills are up to the task.

And McCormack would also like the pressure that comes with playing a historical figure.

“There’s a certain level of responsibility and you know, usually with those projects, if they’ve passed, some of their loved ones might be still around. And there’s just an element where that to me is like an amazing opportunity to storytell. And I would love to kind of welcome that pressure and have an honor to actually tell someone’s true story.”

As ever, he remains zen about whatever is to come.

“There’s no other option. You know, I’m very content and feel very grateful and yeah, I’m very, very happy to see where it all continues to go.”


For more on AP’s 2022 class of Breakthrough Entertainers, please visit: