THE contact list on Donegal actor Jason Matthewson’s mobile phone must quite literally read like a who’s who in Hollywood.
From Anthony Hopkins to Mark Wahlberg to Benedict Cumberbatch to Margot ‘Harley Quinn’ Robbie, you name them and the Rathmullan man has probably worked with them.
Roles in movies like Transformers: The Last Knight, The Mummy and Jason Bourne have propelled the 31-year-old right up the roll call of influential movie directors and producers.
For his next project though Matthewson is moving closer to home. He has just secured a lead role in the new UK comedy series Hayfields.
It has been quite a journey for the Donegal man whose acting career began in the halls of St Joseph’s National School and on stage at the now demolished Pier Hotel.
Speaking to the Donegal News about life in the Los Angeles fast lane, the star revealed how the role he is most looking forward at the minute though is a Christmas reunion back in his native Rathmullan.
“Rathmullan isn’t a huge place and as kids, my friends and myself would spend a lot of time at the beach,” said Jason.
“Back then a lot of tourists, especially from Northern Ireland, would come for the summer holidays. They got to know the locals and to this day a lot of us have remained close friends.
“Like most of the village I went to St Joseph’s and I think that is where my spark for the arts came from. I took part in a number of small productions like Annie, Grease and Joseph and his Technicolour Dream Coat which were staged at the now gone Pier Hotel.
“I did that until I was 11 or 12-years-old, by which stage the bug had well and truly taken hold and I was starting to explore getting into television and film. At least that’s what I wanted to do but had no clue at that time where to even begin.”
From the Pier Hotel, Jason moved to the more professional surrounds of Letterkenny’s An Grianán Theatre where he quickly became a regular performer.
“I can honestly say that the An Grianán and all the people there, from the wonderful Patricia McBride, Martina Murphy, Niall Cranney, Pete Rose, Pluncead Ferry, Patrick Doherty and so many others became like a family to me and all the other young actors that worked there. They really did take the time to nurture us and allow us to develop as artists. I learned the nuts and bolts of my craft and business there and I’ll be forever grateful to them all for that,” said the actor.
With a plethora of blockbuster appearances under his belt, Jason Matthewson is well weathered when it comes to working with Hollywood’s great and good.
But even now he is taking nothing for granted.
“I’ve been very lucky to have had great opportunities and after a lot of hard work things do seem to be heading in the right direction. Is it all in a day’s work?
Definitely not. When you do anything for a long time it does become familiar to you but I still question myself all the time. I don’t know that seeing Anthony Hopkins chase Mark Wahlberg through the streets of central London or Gerard Butler yelling at me to dive the submarine to get away from Gary Oldman ever becomes normal.”
With a passion for action movies, Jason revealed how he had always dreamt of working on a film set aboard a plane or submarine. That dream came true last year when he got to work with childhood hero Gary Oldman on Hunter Killer.
All has not been well in tinsel town of late though with the Harvey Weinstein controversy still reverberating through studio halls.
While he never met Weinstein in person, Jason has worked recently on the movie The Current War with Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Holland which is being produced by The Weinstein Company.
“I can’t say I’ve ever met the man but I don’t think you can work in this game in any serious way and not know who Harvey is. As a producer on a strictly professional level Harvey was ‘the producer’ and a powerhouse in Hollywood and I think that’s all I would like to say about that,” the actor added.
With a whole host of projects in the pipeline, the future is undoubtedly bright as well as extremely busy for the Rathmullan man.
He is currently co-producing a new series for Irish television called Sticks and Stones and is looking forward to hosting the Gold Movie Awards in London on January 11.
“I’ve just landed a series regular on a new AMC dark comedy series which shoots in Toronto early next year and a series lead in the new comedy series here in the UK called Hayfields which I’m so excited about,” said Jason.
“A movie I shot a little while back called 21 Files alongside Oscar winner Giancarlo Giannini will be coming out very shortly as well. I’ve a load of other things either in post-production or in the pipeline so I should be kept busy for a while.”
Looking forward to a festive time out with his family who still live in Rathmullan, Jason added, “The big cities, whether it is Los Angeles or London, they can get a bit much at times and it is really nice to get away from the constant hustle and clear your head.
“I do like to live my life at a fast pace and I always have a million things going on. And as nice as the peace and quiet is, after a while I think I’d miss the madness.
“I don’t get home nearly as much as I’d like to but my brothers and I are all heading home this Christmas so I’m really looking forward to the family all being back together for the first time in a long while. It’ll be good to catch up with friends and of course a home cooked Christmas dinner.”