Like many of us, Eve Hewson spent lockdown living back at her family home. It might have felt like a surreal place to watch her new show, The Luminaries, take off, but as the daughter of rock star Bono and businesswoman and activist Ali Hewson, the actor has spent her whole life skipping between the extravagance of the entertainment world and the grounded routine of her home life. Though flying on tour as a family sounds enviably glamorous, Hewson speaks frankly about the perspective her parents instilled in her and the ways it informs her approach to her work now, making it clear she has no interest in anyone putting her on a pedestal for her job.
Moving on from the wondrous world of The Luminaries — a mystical mini-series based on Eleanor Catton’s 2013 novel of the same name — next she will star in Netflix’s Behind Her Eyes, a twisting psychological drama about a single mother [Simona Brown], who takes a part-time job in a psychiatrist’s office, becomes entangled in an affair with her boss [Tom Bateman] and forms an unlikely friendship with his wife [Hewson].
From her temporary home in London, here Hewson speaks to her friend and fellow actor Jamie Dornan, who she met a few years ago filming Robin Hood. Starring in John Patrick Shanley’s Wild Mountain Thyme — a film based on his Tony-nominated Broadway show Outside Mullingar — this December, Dornan appears alongside Emily Blunt in the Romeo and Juliet-esque story portraying an Irish couple caught up in their families’ messy dispute over land. Next summer he’ll also be seen opposite Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo in the upcoming comedy Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar, but right now he’s catching some time with Hewson on Zoom before bath time with his kids. Between a lot of laughs, they reflect on everything from their Irish roots to their experience filming together in Budapest and standout celebrity encounters (spoiler: it’s Westlife), as Hewson looks back on the tutor who first got her into acting, what her younger self would think of her now, and the one piece of family advice she’s ignored
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JD: I wanna ask you about coffee. How many cups of coffee do you drink a day? EH: Do you want to know something controversial? I have a love-hate relationship with coffee… I have a problem. So if I drink coffee, I drink like four cups a day.
JD: That’s too much! EH: I go through periods of three, four months off coffee, and then I’ll fall off the wagon.
JD: What period are you in right now? EH: I’m in no coffee. That’s why I’m drinking so much tea. So I am proud of myself, it’s been three months.
JD: I am proud of you, that’s good. I have decided to not drink for the rest of the year. I’m on day five—I know, I look so good—but I am trying not to, just for the crack. EH: What’s the point of not drinking?!
JD: That’s something I am asking myself! Because my wife is not really drinking, Millie’s off the booze for a while actually, so it’s kind of to support that a wee bit. It’s just you get into such a thing of doing it all the time, particularly in lockdown, you know how it is. So that was my first question about coffee, which I think is a very important question to get a tone of who you are for people. Second question: where are you in the world right now?
EH: London! JD: There we go. How’s it been in London?
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EH: Good, I moved home to Dublin since March. I went from living by myself in New York for 10 years and then living with my parents, my sister and my two brothers. It was pretty sweet, but you know, it was also a lot of personalities in one house. So I have decided to come here for like three months. I have some work to do here, and then funnily enough my whole family has followed me over. My sister got a house and my brother is living with her, and then my parents are coming over. JD: When you are on our beautiful homeland, do you ever feel like ‘This is where I want to be, this is where I should live all the time’? Or are you like me — big up Ireland all the time, so proud to be Irish, love it but couldn’t live there?
EH: I might be a little bit like you. We have had this conversation, Irish people: greatest people in the world, no one better, hands down we win. But I haven’t lived there since I was in school, so I don’t know. And [in] lockdown it’s not like I was really living there, I was just in the house and then going for your daily walk. It wasn’t like I was working or anything. It was pretty great, we were right by the beach and we went for swims in the sea. You can’t complain, but I think I’m a New Yorker ‘til I die. JD: You’re a native New Yorker.
EH: I’m one of those Irish New Yorkers, I don’t think I’ll ever get a green card and officially become American JD: Looking back, do you remember what inspired you to pursue acting? Was there a specific person you looked up to or film that you remember watching? It’s OK to talk about me if I’m here…
EH: It was you… There wasn’t really a movie, I was more I had this tutor. Whenever I went away on tour with my dad we had to get a tutor obviously, because we were leaving school for three or four months. We had this tutor who was actually a filmmaker, so she started making movies with us to keep us engaged. I was terrible at school anyway, I hated it. And so I started getting interested in film because of that; we did film workshops and we made a short, and then she wrote a movie and she offered me a part in it when I was 15. I went to North Carolina for a few weeks and that was my first experience acting in film. JD: Your tutor wrote that film and gave you a part in it? That’s crazy!
EH: Yeah! Erica Dunton, what a boss. JD: That’s amazing. Growing up in Ireland, did you look up to any Irish filmmakers, actors, actresses that you were like ‘That’s cool that they can come from the same little island that I do and they are doing it’?
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EH: Yeah, I mean even Saoirse Ronan, she’s younger than me. I remember seeing her at the Oscars and being like ‘It’s grand, we’re just happy to be here!’ JD: She’s been getting nominated for Oscars since she was like, 11?
EH: Yeah, and she’s from Bray, I think. So that was very cool to watch. And I remember seeing Cillian [Murphy], even when he was in Batman and he worked with Neil Jordan, Jim Sheridan. Those kind of people were in and around my life, so yeah, they would be big inspirations. JD: This is a question from me: how many of Westlife have you met?
EH: All of them. JD: Oh my God, at once?
EH: Yes, at once. I think it was the MTV Awards, we met very briefly and I was completely terrified and in love. JD: Were they wearing their camel leather jacket phase?
EH: I think it was more like “Flying Without Wings” white, baggy T-shirts. That was the phase. JD: Those T-shirts that you can go straight to Bikram yoga from the studio? Multipurpose, that’s good. Growing up with your family in the public eye, did they give you any advice about the realities of the entertainment world?
EH: They said ‘Never trust an Irish actor’. JD: Oh my God. You have slipped too many times, I’d say.
EH: people always ask me: ‘What kind of advice did your dad give you?’ It’s more that I just ask him his opinion on many things rather than one specific thing. He wasn’t like ‘You can’t do this, or you should do this’. We’re constantly giving each other advice, to be honest. I like to tell him all of my opinions about his career as well, so it’s a two-way street. JD: Isn’t it cool? From the little that I have met your parents, they are so approachable and so easy to talk to. You grew up meeting all kinds of people as a kid, but most people are just normal, aren’t they at the end of the day? There is heightened versions, sort of pedestal versions of the people that are a little bit fantastic or a little bit ridiculous, but for the most part, people are fucking normal and you talk about normal things.
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EH: I think so. I mean, I am sure Prince was nuts. JD: Sure, but he is the exception. You’re talking, how about your Prince and your Lady Gagas and stuff, you’re a little bit like ‘Shit, I don’t know how to be around that!’ But then most people are pretty down.
EH: And we grew up in Ireland, which is something that they were very set on doing. We have all of our friends, our family, it’s a big clan of people. Their friends are from secondary school and then their kids are all my best friends, so we grew up in this group of painters and writers and poets and actors and musicians. I always felt safe within that group; I didn’t feel like I was like a fish out of water or anything. And when we went away — like I said, we would go away for two or three months, go and visit New York and LA and meet all the stars and have that more rock and roll experience — we would then come home and take the train to school and see our friends. So it was easier to make the distinction of ‘This isn’t real life’ and ‘This is our actual life’, and you can enjoy both. That’s a good example I think they set for us, too. Even if I go and do a movie and have this mental, crazy, fun experience, I know that I am gonna go home and that’s not what real life is. JD: I think it’s great that they instilled that in you, and I think it’s great that you grew up in Ireland. The Luminaries had an amazing reception — and by the way, I watched the first episode and it was really brilliant. Was it extreme to experience that while in lockdown, all this praise for the show and yourself?
EH: No, I think it was the best thing to happen. I truly enjoyed it. I got to be home, where BBC is a huge deal — in New York, everyone’s like ‘What the hell is BBC?!’ It
was so nice, I watched it with my friends every week. My school mates were on WhatsApp, everyone was watching because people were at home. What else were you going to do? It kind of felt like it was the best way for it to happen. JD: What was the filming process like?
EH: I went to New Zealand and just basically worked non-stop for six months, which was amazing. JD: How did you find New Zealand? I’ve never been there.
EH: Oh, you’d love it. I mean I literally went there and didn’t see anything; I saw like the car park of our studio and then inside the studio… JD: Was the situation like we had with Robin Hood in Budapest, where there were two restaurants that we went to every night almost?
EH: Pretty much, yeah. What did we do? We went to Nobu and Nobu… JD: It’s so embarrassing to say, but like, how much Nobu did we eat?
EH: Any time I go there now and someone orders miso cod I shudder inside. JD: This is the most privileged situation ever, to be sick of Nobu, but we were literally sick of it. Away from Japanese food for a second — with astrology and star signs being so central [to the show], do you believe in all that? For my money, I’m always a bit sceptical about that, but then someone will read something about mine or I’ll
seemingly fall in line with loads of stuff about when I was born.
EH: I knew I was a Cancer because everyone would tell me that, but I wasn’t really that into it. But then Ellie [Catton], who wrote the book and wrote the show, she is obviously completely obsessed with astrology. She started to get into it on set and she was doing everybody’s chart and everything, and then that sort of started to make more sense to me and I kind of got into it. I don’t know, it’s funnier to me but I don’t think it’s actually real, you know? Like if everybody has the same, there’s no way every Cancer is having the same day… JD: So here are a few questions for the new show [Behind Her Eyes]. Tell me about it…
EH: It’s a psychological thriller, based on a very famous book called Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough. It lands in the Gone Girl genre, The Woman in the Window vibe. It’s a great book and everybody loves it, especially women because it’s very sort of juicy. So it’s about this girl, or this woman, who starts a new job as a therapist’s secretary. She starts an affair with him while also sparking up a friendship with his wife, so it becomes this love triangle between the three of them and I play the wife. It gets really twisted and I don’t want to give anything away, but the ending is insane. I think people will be talking about it for sure. JD: Who else is in it?
EH: Simona Brown plays Louise, and Tom Bateman plays my husband. JD: Where did you shoot it?
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EH: In London. JD: Having had such a full-circle moment of going back home recently, what would your younger self think if she could see everything you are doing now?
EH: My younger self was not so forgiving, I think I have become nicer in my older years. JD: Yes, well I think you’re nice. What are your 17 most favourite things about Jamie Dornan? Take your time!
EH: Here we go! One memory that I’ll always have with you is when we were in Budapest, and we would always be like ‘Where is Jamie?’ I was like ‘I know where Jamie is, he’s in the bar having a steak and a glass of red wine’. And without fail, you would be there having a steak and a glass of red wine. I was like ‘He is so Irish. I just love it’. JD: That is a one way ticket to gout. ‘Where’s Jamie?’ He’s working on getting gout, that’s what he is doing. Which I haven’t done yet, I haven’t got there yet. And I am not drinking red wine at the moment, but I am eating a lot of steak. That’s a nice memory of me, I’ll take that. Looking to the future — which I think we’re all doing a lot at the moment, we’re like ‘Please fucking get us out of this’ — what are you excited about?
EH: I am excited about getting back to work. JD: What is something that you would like people to know about you?
JD: I don’t know, God! I have no clue. EH: Why don’t I answer to that one?
JD: Go for it. EH: I’d like people to know that… Well, just that you’re really nice. You’re really lovely and I think you’re really loyal. You’re one of those people that I think my whole life I’ll have your back and you’ll have mine, even if we don’t see each other all the time. I speak so highly of you to people when your name comes up. It happens a lot in our industry where people suss you out, and I’ve been asked a couple of times about you. I’m just full of praise for you, I think you’re a brilliant actor and a great person.
JD: God! My heart! EH: So there you go, you have that, that’s what people should know. It’s a tricky one, because I feel like I know you aren’t gonna like it — what do you want to be known for as an actor?
JD: Hopefully by being good… I think both of us would say we want people to know we’re good actors? EH: Well, you’re well on the way there. Yeah, I’m not in it thinking I am trying to leave behind some legacy or something, some body of work that can be gazed upon with great admiration.
EH: I don’t care about being dead and people still not knowing my name. I don’t understand why people care that much about someone knowing them. But I just grew up loving movies and genuinely loving stories, as cheesy as that sounds. I think I just want to be in good ones, and not be shit in good ones. That’s sort of the goal — it’s to not be shit.