meet patrick gibson of 'the oa', everyone's favorite bad boy-turned-good

The latest Netflix star propelled to extra-terrestrial height, Patrick Gibson discusses his breakout role, sex, and sci-fi.

by Tish Weinstock and i-D Staff
23 May 2017, 4:30pm

This article originally appeared on Vice UK. 

The first time we met Patrick Gibson he was American, mid-coitus, and being a bit of a dick. But, of course, he was in character, playing the role of high school bad boy Steve Winchell in Netflix's binge-watched sci-fi series The OA. In real life, Patrick couldn't be more charming. He also couldn't be more Irish. Born in Dublin, the now 22-year-old has been acting for most of his young life. It wasn't until he landed a role in Lenny Abrahamson's scintillating coming-of-age story, What Richard Did, that he realized he could actually make a career out of acting. Fast-forward to today and Paddy is smashing up the small screen with major parts in The OA and The White Princess. Currently starring in Guerilla, a political drama set in the 70s about a pair of activists' fight for freedom against racial prejudice, we caught up with our new favorite Irishman to talk sex scenes, fame, and staying true to yourself.

Read: Ian Alexander of The OA is breaking new ground for trans representation.

Hey Paddy, how's it going? Why don't you start off by telling us a bit about yourself?
Oh fuck, that's a horrible question! Okay, well, my name is Paddy. I'm 21 — I'll be 22 next week. I was born in Dublin and I suppose I'm an actor.

How did you get into acting?
I was living in Ireland and I was doing a bit of acting. I feel like I'm narrating my own biopic. 

It does feel pretty rehearsed, TBH.
Well I've done this like a million times!

Great way to make a girl feel special! Anyway, so you started off in Ireland doing some bits and bobs. 
Yeah, I guess I've always been interested in acting. It wasn't like my parents forced me into it or anything. I was never that good in drama classes.

At what moment did you realize acting was something you could pursue seriously as a career?
Erm, never! I did a film called What Richard Did which Lenny Abrahamson directed. I was 17.

So, like, basically a year ago. 
Yeah, like literally 20 minutes ago. That was the first time I got to explore a character in the way that I can do now. I'd never really tried to make a character feel real before — I used to approach it from the outside in.

What is it about acting that appeals to you?
This is going to sound pretentious. I think it's a combination of escaping the real. But also to experience emotions by conjuring them up and faking them, it's kind of a release for emotions in real life.

Do you think you've experienced more emotions playing a character than you have in real life?
Probably. I've probably allowed myself to go to darker places or sad places in character, as it feels safe. I think otherwise those feelings are repressed. It's cathartic.

Tell me about The OA, how did you feel when you first read about the dance/the movements?
I guess we never saw it as a dance. But also, I think in a lot of ways I felt like how the characters feel in the show when they initially see them, as in, "What are we doing?" But then the idea of having faith in the movements is sort of like life having blind faith in religion. It seems crazy and outlandish, as it's never been seen before, and nobody has done it, but I think they needed something like that for us to take that leap of faith.

With episode one, we go straight into your sex scene. How was that for you? It's quite a punchy scene to start with.
Yeah, that was fine. It's part of the job, isn't it? 

Is it?
Well, people have sex in real life, don't they? Now I'm feeling nervous. I think it's only weird if you're made to feel uncomfortable. But you know it was a bit of a challenge, I enjoyed it.

Did you realize how big The OA was going to be?
I mean, I'm kind of used to people hyping things up, especially when you're doing it, but you just can't predict it. Sometimes you can do something and the experience is incredible, but it doesn't translate into an audience enjoying it.

How do you feel about fame? Is that something you're after?
No, definitely not. All I wanted to do was act. The main thing for me is when you're doing a scene with somebody and you could look them in the eye and there's nothing else — everything else falls away. That's what I was chasing. I think if anything fame is a barrier to that.

Would you consider moving to L.A.?
See that's another thing, I wouldn't move there. I mean, I like going there — I love surfing — but I don't think I would enjoy it if it was my life. You don't really need to be there anyway. You can audition from home.

Do you get nervous doing auditions?
Yeah, I do. It's a really precarious thing; you're going in there trying to hit a certain emotion. You can't fake it, and sometimes you don't feel like it. If you do fake it people can see that, and I don't want that to happen.

Moving forwards, what are you interested in doing next?
I'd really like to do a play. I did a show when I was like 13, but I'd really love to act in a the play.

What do you stand for?
The last two years have been very full on, and I've realized that acting is quite self-centered. Acting is all about yourself, which is great, but my brother is a doctor and I compare myself to him. I've spent the last two years focusing on myself and he's spent the last two years focusing on other people. So I'd like to spend some time trying to be good to other people and not get oo caught up in my and my own importance.

What's the bravest thing you can do as a young person?
Be true to yourself.

Read: Outsider star of indie flick Handsome Devil, Fionn O'Shea is the young Irish actor you need to know.


Text Tish Weinstock
Photography Finn Constantine 

The OA
finn constantine
patrick gibson
steve winchell