Patrick O’Kane has already impressed fans with his performance of one of Doctor Who’s must unique Cybermen. With more evil to come in Ascension of the Cybermen, Blogtor Who looks at his career on stage and screen
The Lone Cyberman. A villain like no other we’ve seen before in 54 year history of the cybernetic baddies. Aggressive, filled with rage and loathing, yet also smugly confident of Cyber superiority. Introduced in The Haunting of Villa Diodati, and set to be the Doctor’s nemesis in tomorrow’s Ascension of the Cyberman, he’s brought to life by Northern Ireland born actor Patrick O’Kane. As we’ll see, O’Kane is also a man of many faces. Literally, in the case of one of his most notable roles.
O’Kane’s imposing frame and glowering looks have meant his thirty year television career is scattered with villains and anti-heroes. In Game of Thrones, he was one of the faces of a man, Jaqen H’ghar, as he repaid his debt to Maisie Williams’ Arya (Ashilder/Me). Meanwhile, in the Star Wars universe, he was the aide of General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson). And he also lent support as heavies in the likes of Strike Back and Jamaica Inn. Another key role was Bession, the possessed priest and archeologist in The Exorcist: The Beginning. While he was also the cold hearted noble Francesco Gonzaga in The Borgias.
O’Kane’s first love has always been the theatre, where he has crafted magnetic starring performances for the National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company
But O’Kane’s main focus has always been his theatre work. He’s performed with both the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company. For the latter, he took the lead role of MacBeth, as well as Caravaggio in The Seven Acts of Mercy. Other classical roles include the uncompromising new king, Kreon, in Sophocles’ Antigone opposite Juliette Binoche (notably roles taken by Christopher Eccleston and Jodie Whittaker in another production). And as Faustus at the Royal Exchange Theatre.
Hailing from the same village near Belfast as acclaimed playwright Owen McCafferty, O’Kane has collaborated with him on several projects. He’s taken key roles in McCafferty productions including Closing Time and Scenes from the Big Picture at the National Theatre. But despite international success, he’s stayed loyal to the art scene of his hometown too, and though his work with Prime Cut Productions, has won the Irish Times Best Actor Award for his appearance in Red, and moved into directing, such as with 2007’s The Trestle.
O’Kane’s book on acting, Actors’ Voices, collects together an impressive list of heavyweight contributors
O’Kane’s dedicated to his craft can also be seen in the series of interviews he conducted with actors in 2008. Collected as Actor’s Voices: The People Behind the Performances, the book includes contributions from the likes of Simon Russell Beale, Patterson Joseph and Jim Norton. And it showed the depth of knowledge and understanding not just they, but O’Kane himself, bring to the profession.
In The Haunting of Villa Diodati, O’Kane’s magnetically malign performance quickly established the Lone Cyberman, Ashad, as one of the great Doctor Who villains. With his face half-concealed and his cumbersome costume, his every movement had to betray Ashad’s barely restrained viciousness. And even when standing still O’Kane’s entire figure radiated hatred. But it was probably in his face to face confrontation with Lili Miller’s Mary Shelley, where the power of love, for once, doesn’t save the day but simply spurs Ashad on to even lower depths of derision and cruelty, that will remembered by fans for years to come. Moreover, Ascension of the Cybermen will see Ashad at the peak of his powers, with a new legion of freshly minted Cybermen at his command. And we don’t have long to wait to see just how O’Kane tackles this even more dangerous and lethal vision of the Lone Cyberman.
Doctor Who continues at 7.10pm next Sunday on with Ascension of the Cybermen
The aftermath of the Great CyberWar. The Doctor arrives in the far future, intent on protecting the last of the human race from the deadly Cybermen. But in the face of such a relentless enemy, has she put her best friends at risk? What terrors lie hiding in the depths of space, and what is Ko Sharmus?
Series 12 stars Jodie Whittaker (The Doctor), Bradley Walsh (Graham), Mandip Gill (Yaz) and Tosin Cole (Ryan), with Chris Chibnall as Showrunner and Matt Strevens Executive Producing. Ascension of the Cybermen guest stars Julie Graham (Ravio), Patrick O’Kane (Ashad) and Steve Toussaint (Feekat). It’s written by Chris Chibnall, and directed by Jamie Magnus Stone (Spyfall Part One, Praxeus)