Written in 2013.
Jack O’Higgins is a 19-year-old film and broadcasting student at DIT. Since starting college in Dublin, he’s landed a job, taken to the stage and is loving every minute. He was the star of DIT Drama Soc’s critically acclaimed production ‘A Slow Day in Purgatory’. We caught up over a coffee and a doughnut to talk parents, Paul Rudd and everything in between.
It was a crisp march morning and Jack was rolling a cigarette with unerring precision,
“I’ve been to the city in the past for shopping or whatever, so I’m not exactly a country bumpkin,” he began, “but it’s more about getting to know good spots to hang out, and just being able to chill in the city.”
The Wicklow native was quick to endorse the location of his beloved college, “In that sense, the college is my campus. If any of the DIT board members are listening, I think the move to Grangegorman sucks, I really do.”
Jack licked the skin of his rolling paper as he sealed his ‘rollie’ cigarette shut,
“When it comes to juggling college work and social life or whatever, you’re going to have to choose, you’re going to have to drop something. It’s like Sophie’s Choice.” Our peaceful surroundings were spoiled as a voice came over the tannoy, “Smoking in this area is strictly prohibited.” Jack lit up.
It’s not just college commitments that have Jack bogged down, his creative endeavours have also dealt a blow to his free time, “For about three weeks leading up to the play, I wasn’t even thinking of any college stuff,” he took a drag and continued upon exhaling, “I was also helping to MC the Gig Soc Battle of the Bands, so college really passed me by.”
Despite his growing concern about a lack of income, Jack is more than happy give acting a go in the interim, “The play, A Slow Day in Purgatory, reminded me how much I enjoy that kind of thing. Acting’s one of the few things I’m actually comfortable doing. So to hell with getting a real job!” The play itself was the brainchild of fellow film and broadcaster Pierce McDonough and has received a positive reception. “It was a play about a bunch of people in purgatory which is depicted as a super boring waiting room,” Jack explained, “They have to walk through a door but they don’t know if they’ll go to heaven or hell when they walk through it.”
Off-stage, Jack harbours a burning passion for film and is quick to point out that his course isn’t merely a placeholder. He has done everything in his power to blag his way onto sets, from low-budget student films to the Emmy award-winning Moone Boy, “I was location manager assistant on the set of Moone Boy. I saw Chris O’Dowd but to my shame I never approached him,” the sense of regret was palatable, “He was also directing so he probably wasn’t in the mood for a fan-boy slobbering all over him.” He did manage to rub shoulders with Paul Rudd who was also involved in shooting the scene, “I got to shake his hand.
He comes up to me and says ‘Hi I’m Paul Rudd.’ ” Jack gave up on his dodgy American accent to continue, “I may have come across kind of passive aggressive ‘cause I almost shouted back ‘I know who you are!’”
As far as obstacles are concerned, there’s a large commute-shaped one in between Jack and a thriving social life, “Not living in town makes it awkward to go out, especially if you have responsibilities at home. My dad tells me that if I’m living at home full time, I have to pull my weight and that I’m not getting a free pass. He’s basically like a pushy flatmate.”
Jack was down to a mere butt by the time we made it onto home life. Making time for family engagements is an art which Jack has yet to master, “I haven’t sat down and talked to my dad for more than twenty minutes in over two weeks, before I have to go off and do something.”
College years are supposedly the best of your life, and I brought our chat to a close armed with the question, “Do you agree?”Jack paused to eke out what was left of his tobacco,
“I can certainly see why people would think it. It’s a great excuse to go out all the time.
But personally I hope they aren’t. I don’t want to finish college knowing the best years of my life are behind me. I’m having a pretty good time at the moment so if these aren’t the best years of my life I’ll be fairly happy.”
I finished off the dregs of my coffee and licked my sugar-coated fingers clean as Jack flicked his cigarette butt into the gutter. We said our goodbyes and parted ways safe in the knowledge that the best years are still to come for Jack O’Higgins.