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Living a lie: ‘The South Westerlies’ explores consequences of deception

Orla Brady as Kate Ryan in “The South Westerlies.” (Courtesy of Acorn TV)

Orla Brady knows what it takes to tackle a role in film or TV.

She’s been doing it for decades.

When the role of Kate Ryan landed in her lap for the series “The South Westerlies,” Brady was hesitant at first.

“Somebody asked me if I have to like my character,” Brady says in a recent interview. “What Kate characterizes as a little white lie is a tough thing. She thinks, ‘I’ll go here and get the job done, and it will be fine.’ But we all know that if anyone lies to us, it’s very hurtful and leaves a bad taste in your mouth.”

“The South Westerlies” premiered Nov. 9, on Acorn TV. The six-episode series is available for streaming.

The series follows Ryan, played by Brady, who is on the verge of a lucrative promotion at Noreg Oil and a move to company headquarters in Oslo until her employer adds a last-minute caveat – a final assignment in Ireland for the company’s new wind-power subsidiary, NorskVentus.

Despite getting planning permission for a wind farm offshore from the West Cork town of Carrigeen, ongoing local protests are creating a PR nightmare.

Ryan must go undercover to Carrigeen and pretend to be a vacationer to quash objections before an appeals deadline and smooth the path for imminent turbine installation.

Steve Wall, left, and Sam Barrett in a scene from “The South Westerlies.” (Courtesy of Acorn TV)

When she arrives along with her 18-year-old son, Conor, played by Sam Barrett, she faces an eco-battle as she quickly discovers that the anti-wind farm lobby is much stronger than NorskVentus led her to believe.

Patrick Bergin as Mike in “The South Westerlies.” (Courtesy of Acorn TV)

Patrick Bergin plays “Big Mike” Kelleher, the town’s local councilor, who’s firmly on the fence about the wind farm.

Ryan’s eco-battle is compounded by the return of an old boyfriend, a crinkly-eyed surfer, Baz Crowley, played by Steve Wall, who bears a striking resemblance to her son, Conor.

Her old friend Breege, played by Eileen Walsh, who runs the local café, is unhappy with Ryan’s reappearance after 15 years of silence and is not so quick to forgive her comrade’s neglect.

The pressures mount for Ryan as tensions rise from local protesters, Breege figures out why she has stayed away from Carrigeen all this time and a surfing accident puts things in perspective.

Brady says playing Ryan was precarious.

“She remains in the position of not telling them the truth, and somehow she thinks she’ll get away with it,” Brady says. “It’s very blind. We teach children to tell the truth, and when they don’t it can be forgiven. With Kate, she won’t tell the truth, and she will suffer, of course.”

Brady has played an array of characters.

In the United States, she has appeared as Elizabeth Bishop in “Fringe,” as Claire Stark in “Shark,” in “Nip/Tuck for FX, and as Sophia Tsaldari in NBC’s “American Odyssey.”

Her most recent work in TV includes “American Horror Story,” three seasons playing Lydia on AMC’s “Into the Badlands” and her favorite, playing Laris the Romulan in “Star Trek: Picard.”

What drove her to “The South Westerlies” was the writing.

“The writer who literally had the idea of writing about climate change and whether we do the right thing,” Brady says. “That’s the backdrop, and it’s not stuffed down your throat. It’s a theme in the background that is important. There’s there’s the personal story of someone who has missteps. There is regret later in the series. I think that’s a very potent combination. Everyone has a point of view.”

A scene from “The South Westerlies,” which is set in Ireland. (Courtesy of Acorn TV)

The series was filmed on location in Ireland and features the stunning beaches, cliffs and seas.

The series filmed in October 2019.

“We were shooting a summer series, and it’s never really that hot in Ireland,” she says. “If you look closely, you will see the long underwear peeking out of the clothing. We were absolutely frozen some days. It takes hours to do a scene, and you just have to be there. Aside from the weather, it was lovely to shoot, and everyone involved was good and kind. This is the reason in the 1920s that studios moved all the work inside the studio.”

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