Conor O’Farrell, a member of the Idyllwild “glitterati,” is frequently expounding on his most recent idea at the Town Baker. The well-known stage and screen actor has just returned from Atlanta, where he was filming the pilot episode for “Game of Silence.”
He spent three weeks in Georgia acting, visiting his like-named daughter, Georgia, and kayaking on the local river. If NBC picks up the pilot, he will have several months in Georgia.
So if he has the opportunity to return, O’Farrell plans to tie a kayak on his car roof so he can entertain himself during the long waits. When filming is away from Los Angeles and for several months, he described it this way: “It’s like going on vacation by yourself.”
While filming in Australia, he actually joined a local church to keep engaged. “Guys like me who are social need these activities to do …”
“A lot of the time actors spend on the set is waiting,” he said. Then he quoted actor Gene Hackman: “They don’t pay me to act, they pay me to wait.”
O’Farrell’s been a kayaker for years and is quite familiar with California’s best white-water runs.
Shooting this pilot was great fun for O’Farrell. “I really like the people — the producer and director,” he said. The show’s creator is David Hudgins who was responsible for “Friday Night Lights” and “Parenthood.”
But it was the opportunity to visit with Georgia, his daughter, that seemed to truly excite O’Farrell. She had just returned from a week working in Haiti. They hiked and talked. He explained how she holds down three jobs — working a vineyard, helping at a family farm and teaching elementary school students about the value of community-grown vegetables, such as turnips.
Just as the recent award-winning Town Crier columnist (“Off the Leash”) stands out in Idyllwild, he did also on the set. “I was the oldest guy in the cast,” he exclaimed, which led him to believe he was, de facto, the authority figure, since he plays a prison warden.
During one scene, while the director was placing the actors and discussing the action, O’Farrell offered his suggestion on how to improve it. “Don’t worry, Conor, you can trust me, I’ve done this before,” said Director Niels Arden Oplev.
The next day O’Farrell wore the T-shirt he bought for his coffee club after some volatile sessions. It reads, “I’m loud, I’m opinionated and I’m always right … let’s have coffee.”
O’Farrell has been an actor for many years; he has survived and found a place in a very difficult profession. Many more people come to Hollywood to be on the screen than the ones who actually are in film, either movies or television.
“They can’t handle the lifestyle. It’s a roller coaster. I try not to get prematurely too excited,” he said, while discussing the pilot and its possibilities. “Every time they tell me, ‘You got the job,’ I’m still amazed and ask ‘Really?’”
One of those moments occurred as he was doing a production for the South Coast Repertory in Orange County. His co-star was a Yale theater graduate. But on opening night, just before they walked on stage in front of a sold-out house, she grabbed his shirt, pulled him close, lifted her head and asked, “Conor, are we going to be alright?”
Naturally empathic and supportive, O’Farrell calmly replied, “Don’t worry. I went to community college and we’ll be fine.”
“Finally, after all these years and about hundred shows, I’m enjoying the process,” he said with a smile. “It’s not about anything but enjoying what you’ve done and not taking yourself too seriously …”
“We spend our time pretending to be someone else,” O’Farrell sighed. “It’s a privilege to be able to be with people in a child-like profession.”