Meet actor Ryan McParland. The Irish-based performer is one of the stars of the new sci-fi action series Halo. The show is on Paramount Plus. Set in the year 2552, McParland plays Adun, the assistant to Dr. Halsey, (Natascha McElhone), a creator of Spartan super soldiers. In the futuristic show, humans on planet Madrigal are fighting for independence from Earth.
“Adun works very closely with Dr. Halsey,” shares McParland. "Together they are trying to understand a newly found artifact that the Covenant are also searching for. Adun is meticulous, forensic, and deeply loyal to Dr Halsey.”
McParland, an Irish-based actor, is no stranger to performing in award-nominated and winning films. He has appeared in the BAFTA-nominated Calm with Horses, with Cosmo Jarvis and Barry Keoghan, director Aoife McArdle’s Kissing Candice with Ann Skelly, He also shined in Matteo Garone’s only English-speaking Palme d’Or-nominated film, The Tale of Tales, alongside Vincent Cassel and Salma Hayek and in the BAFTA-nominated film "Good Vibrations.
With deep roots in theater, he earned raves playing the title role in the UK premiere of the play Teddy Ferrara, directed by Dominic Cooke. The play is written by Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer Chris Shinn. McParland also received accolades for his performance in the one man play East Belfast Boy, which premiered in 2018 at the MAC in Belfast as part of the Edge Fest series of new theatre work highlighting mental health issues relating to men. In the play, McParland offers an emotional solo performance playing Davy. He shares his character’s stories on drugs, street-life, bonfires and school. He also starred in the play Summertime written by David Ireland for which Ryan received an Irish Times Best Actor nomination. His other plays include How Many Miles To Babylon and Drum Belly by Game of Thrones actor Richard Dormer.
Ryan McParland shared more.
When did you know you had to be an actor? And what was one of your favorite performances you did?
It became a very real thing for me when I was around 14. Then when I left school, I started working in the theater in Ireland. One of my favorite performances at school was in a school musical. It was an in incredible experience being on stage every night. The school hall was filled with parents and family. We had a great director called Mark Hughes who worked so hard to get every aspect of the show right. It was a very rewarding experience. It’s been the foundation for my love of acting ever since.
You grew up on Play Station. Were you a fan of “Halo” as a video game? And when did you come to know about the game?
I did grow up on Playstation, yes, but I was a massive fan of the original Halo video game. I still am. I remember first playing it at a friend's house. We were all gathered around the television, taking it in turns to play for a little bit. The original was ahead of its time. Most of my friends played games, we’d hang out and play some football, then take a break and head inside to play Halo. A lot of the time it was raining so it was the perfect excuse to play.
Can you share the moment when you learned that you were cast in Halo? What went through your mind?
I was sitting having coffee on my own outside at this coffee shop. My agent called and my heart started beating like crazy. It was either going to be disappointing news or amazing news. We chatted for a little bit and then he said, "would you like some good news?" There were tears of joy. I was in total shock for a while. I walked across the street to a store and bought an outdoor stove. I needed one! I then called my father first since he’s been on this journey with me since the beginning. I owe my parents everything.
Halo was a major production with big sets and lots of green screen. What were some of your favorite moments from shooting?
Watching the stunt artists. The stunts on this show were out of this world. Literally. I have the utmost respect for what they do. I’d never seen stunts like that before. Every day on set was rewarding. To be there, to be a part of the show, was a real honor. It’s been a privilege start to finish. We had the most incredible crew from all over the world who worked so hard to bring this beautiful story to life.
Early on in your career you worked on a film called Tale of Tales with Vincent Cassel? What was that experience like?
I still think about that film. Vincent is one of kindest people I’ve ever met and we’ve remained friends since filming. I learned so much on that film not only from him but from everyone. As a 23 year-old actor, it was an out of body experience. I was in Rome, the sun was shining, I’d just finished a play back in Belfast.
Working with director Matteo Garrone was one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had; he encouraged so much improvisation. He and Vincent educated me on the importance of taking risks with my work. Salma Hayek, John C Reilly, Toby Jones. I never thought that I’d be able to work on a film like that. It was very much a dream come true. A lot like Halo, both of which were cast by Jina Jay and her team. So I’m forever grateful to them for giving me these opportunities.
You live near a historic landmark. The Ring of Gullion. What can you share about this Irish folklore?
I must warn you that a giant lives there! There is a lake at the top of the mountain that is bottomless. A long time ago a prince touched the water in the lake and turned into an old man. It’s a beautiful place with a lot of history, wonderful stories, wonderful people. I’ve been fortunate to be around it growing up. I still climb the mountain regularly whenever I’m back home. I love the mountains, I love being in nature. And The Ring of Guillion is a magical, beautiful place with incredible people. If you like hiking, you're in for a real treat.
You are a big soccer/Futbol fan. How often do you play and what are your favorite teams?
I’m a massive football fan and I have been ever since I was a young kid. I grew up playing for teams in my city. Right now, whenever I am home, I play two to three times a week. I was playing a lot of indoor football before the pandemic so now it’s mainly outdoors.
My favorite team is Liverpool FC but I love many teams. I just love football. I grew up learning about teams from all over the world. My favorite player was Luis Nazario De Lima Ronaldo. I’ve been a big fan of Brazil since I was very young. I used to wake up early on a Saturday morning to watch the Gazzetta football show. I’d watch all the highlights of Serie A in Italy because Ronaldo was playing for Inter Milan at the time. He’s had some serious knee injuries in his career but always came back stronger. He was kind of an idol growing up. El Fenomeno was his nickname. At Liverpool I follow Mohammed Salah, Sadio Mane, Luis Diaz and Konate. Jurgen Klopp is such an exciting coach to watch. Okay, I like football just a little bit.