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Hollywood stars were once ‘biggest rivals’ at Irish acting school

Vikings stars Elijah Rowen (centre) and Jack McEvoy (left) (AbFab PR/PA)
Vikings stars Elijah Rowen (centre) and Jack McEvoy (left) (AbFab PR/PA)

Vikings stars Elijah Rowen and Jack McEvoy have told how they went from being each other’s biggest rivals at acting school to becoming onscreen brothers on the Emmy-winning show.

When the pair met each other at Dublin’s Gaiety School of Acting, they knew “very quickly” they were the same casting type and would be competing for the same roles.

Elijah Rowen and Jack McEvoy interview
Vikings stars Elijah Rowen (right) and Jack McEvoy (AbFab PR/PA)

After leaving acting school, Elijah Rowen, 25, who plays Asbjorn in the Emmy nominated History Channel drama, struggled to get an agent and spent two years sending short videos to producers and casting directors.

The Dublin-born actor, who is travelling to Hungary and China at the end of February for a new project, said he landed the Vikings role in “quite an unusual way”.

“It’s probably quite unheard of,” he said.

“I had no agent and I thought, what can I do here to make something happen.

“There’s no blueprint on how to be an actor.

“I started emailing tapes of myself from random old film scenes to producers, directors and casting directors and hoping some sort of intrigue would be sparked.

“The idea of constantly sending videos to people who have no interest in you is emotionally draining. I kept going with it. I was very stubborn.

“There was a lot of competitiveness between us back then.

“Eventually, Vikings’ casting director, Frank Moiselle saw it and asked who I was.

“He asked to meet me and gave me a script from Vikings. A week later he rang me, saying I got the part.

“He said he didn’t think he had given anyone a part without an agent.”

It was not until Elijah arrived at the Ashford Studios in Wicklow, where the show is mainly filmed, that he discovered his on-screen brother was his former rival from acting school.

“There was a lot of competitiveness between us back then,” he said.

“In acting, everybody is put into a category of your casting type and we knew very quickly we are definitely the same.

“There’s only limited enough roles as it is. So I thought, this guy is going to steal my roles, there was a bit of tension at the start, and I think he thought the same, so it was an interesting turn of events to play his brother.”

Jack McEvoy, who grew up in Wexford, secured an agent shortly after he graduated and a month later he got an audition for Vikings.

However, despite getting to the final few he was told he did not get the part.

McEvoy said: “I was heartbroken, they said they would keep me in mind for future roles.

“But a year later I got a call that I had a role in the show. It was great.”

Following on from Vikings, Rowen has a starring role in Curfew, filmed in Manchester, which also stars Sean Bean and Billy Zane.

McEvoy is also set to star in The Rhythm Section alongside Blake Lively and Jude Law.

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