Game of Thrones actor plays hard-case private investigator Jack Taylor

Iain Glen, known for playing Ser Jorah Mormont in Game of Thrones, stars in Irish crime drama Jack Taylor. Photo / supplied
Iain Glen, known for playing Ser Jorah Mormont in Game of Thrones, stars in Irish crime drama Jack Taylor. Photo / supplied

Galway, in Western Ireland, may seem a world away from the fantasy landscapes of Game of Thrones, but it's familiar ground for Scottish actor Iain Glen.

Perhaps best known as Ser Jorah Mormont in the epic series, Glen has spent quite a bit of time in Ireland in the past few years. Much of Thrones is filmed in northern Ireland, and Glen is also the lead actor and executive producer of Jack Taylor, a crime drama series filmed on location in Galway, on Ireland's wild west coast.

Jack Taylor also sees Glen playing quite a different character to his knightly incarnation in GOT. Based on the series of novels by Ken Bruen, Jack Taylor features an hard-bitten ex-cop-turned-PI of the same name, who takes on cases to which the police have chosen to turn a blind eye.

"It's a wonderful role, and very satisfying to play," says Glen.

"There is a duality in the role, which all the best roles have. He's a very troubled man, very messed up and so he tends to screw up his own and other people's lives accidentally. But he also has this very strong moral core and fundamentally is a good person. That's why he's trying to fight the battles that other people won't take on, helping the dispossessed in society. He really cares about people."

One of the other "stars" of the series is the city of Galway itself, on Ireland's wild west coast. Glen says the setting, which features strongly on screen, is physically beautiful but has a dark undertone.

"It really does become part of the story. It's a bit of a paradox -- its very beautiful but there is a big youth culture and a lot of crime and a drug problem. It's not like Midsomer Murders, which has so much going on in this sleepy little place -- it has a rough edge to it."

Music is a big part of the series too, and Jack and his mates frequently chew over their cases in the local pub, as a traditional band provides the backdrop.

Glen, whose natural accent is somewhere between Scottish and English, takes on a convincing Galway brogue for the role.

"I enjoy dialect -- it's like putting on a different set of clothes. The Irish have been very accepting of me -- either that or they're very forgiving. Whenever I talk the streets of Galway I get lots of 'Hey Jack, how y'doing, have you solved the crime yet?' The locals really are natural extras.

"The whole series is imbued with an Irish wit, too, which really appeals to me."

Although Jack Taylor is firmly rooted in Ireland, Glen hopes it will appeal to audiences Downunder. "I don't know why it is, but it seems the more localised you are and the more you're true to an area you're trying to portray and the detail of it, it becomes universal. If you try to second-guess how to make it appeal to other places in the world, you just fall over yourself."

Those familiar with the earlier series of Jack Taylor will notice a change in the actor who plays Taylor's love interest, garda (police officer) Kate Noonan. Nora-Jane Noone, who was not available for the third series, has been replaced by Siobhan O'Kelly.

"In Game of Thrones there have been a couple of actors who have been replaced and you kind of hope people blink and don't think about it too much," says Glen. "Kate is a part of the storyline that we didn't want to affect, in terms of her on-off romance with Jack."

Taylor's "sidekick" Cody Farraher has moved on and there is a new sparring partner in the form of Darragh Noonan.

"We were always committed introducing a new, different sort of person who comes in to help Jack. The new character is somebody who, in a funny way, is more of a match for Jack. First of all, there are the emotional complications of his being related to Kate, but he's also very capable of looking after himself, so he's more of a sparring partner for Jack than Cody, who was more comfortable to follow in Jack's footsteps."

Making feature-length drama for TV appealed to Glen, who has been fortunate enough to have major roles in two of the past decade's biggest successes, Game of Thrones and Downtown Abbey.

"It used to be a thing with actors where it was perceived that if you were doing TV it was because your film career wasn't working out. But everyone does TV now because of these are such great stories."

Jack Taylor will begin screening on Vibe on Tuesdays from April 4 at 8.30pm, beginning with the latest episodes: Cross, Headstone and Purgatory.

- Weekend magazine

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