Trailer: Good Vibrations
Terri Hooley is a rebel and music-lover in 1970s Belfast. When the bloody conflict known as the Troubles shuts down his city he opens a record shop on the most bombed half-mile in Europe.PT1M59S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2rbb5 620 349 August 6, 2013
With his turns as Beric Dondarrion in Game of Thrones and Terri Hooley in the movie Good Vibrations, Richard Dormer seems to have carved a small niche playing one-eyed men. And there's something vaguely appropriate about that: for decades, his native Northern Ireland was torn asunder by the blinkered vision of sectarian violence and the hatred of those who could only see one side of the equation.
Thankfully, those days are past.
Richard Dormer as Terri Hooley in Good Vibrations.
''There's a minuscule minority of people trying doggedly to rock the boat, but 99.999 per cent of people are going, 'You know what, we don't want it any more','' says Dormer, the 44-year-old stage veteran (as writer and actor) whose first film lead comes in a biopic about Terri Hooley, a man known in his Belfast home town as ''the godfather of punk''.
''It will never go back to what it was, please God. Well, it can't, because people have seen what an amazing country it can be now,'' Dormer says.
Led by Game of Thrones, which has for the past four years done much of its location and studio work there, Northern Ireland has become a thriving hub of production. ''It's given the whole country a new lease of confidence. Where once people were shooting each other, now they're shooting a really successful TV series.''
As Lord Beric Dondarrion in Game of Thrones.
Even the BBC is coming to town, he says. ''Before if there was a series being made that was supposed to be set in Belfast, they'd shoot it in Liverpool because they were afraid about insurance and trouble taking off, but now they're actually doubling Belfast for London.''
The Belfast of Good Vibrations is not this beacon of possibility, though, but rather the terror-stricken city of the Troubles.
Hooley was born Protestant but had no truck with all that. He'd lost his eye as a child, a factor Dormer suspects led inadvertently to his fascination with music.
Playing him, Dormer wore a scleral lens that made him completely blind in one eye. ''Over the weeks,'' he says, ''my other senses heightened. My hearing became really quite clear, and I think that's what happened to Terri. Once he lost his eye, music really started to hit him.''
A DJ and all-round sociable fellow, in the early 1970s Hooley was threatened from both sides of the sectarian divide with violence if he didn't clear out.
''His response was, 'I'll open a record shop on the most bombed half-mile in Europe, and call it Good Vibrations','' Dormer says. ''That's the nature of the man. He just stuck his fingers up to the paramilitaries and the IRA and the factions and said, 'I'm here for the kids, I love music and I'm staying'.''
Hooley is still there, several closures and the odd bankruptcy later. His shop is now a kind of museum funded by the council because, as Dormer puts it and the film has it, ''he's such a bad businessman that he'd basically give records away rather than sell them''.
Along the way, Hooley gave a start to such acts as The Undertones (he released their seminal single Teenage Kicks, which the late and influential DJ John Peel once called his favourite song ever), and signed Ash and Snow Patrol to his label.
Good Vibrations is a jaunty and infectious film that paints all this as a small but far-from-insignificant act of defiance – hope, even – where few dared take a stand. Little wonder, then, that Hooley loves it.
''He cried his eye out the first time he saw it,'' Dormer says. ''And he's seen it about 12 times since.''
It's a random coincidence perhaps, but Dormer's Game of Thrones character Beric – the seemingly immortal leader of the Brotherhood Without Banners, last seen in season three – is missing the other eye. ''The Brotherhood Without Banners are rock'n'roll dudes," he says. "They're like Robin and his Merry Men, only not that merry.
''I love Beric, it's a beautiful part. He's honourable but dangerous,'' he adds. "What man wouldn't want to be dressed in armour with a flaming sword fighting a seven-foot man?''