For Rory Fleck Byrne, playing Harry, the long-suffering boyfriend to Ben Whishaw’s work­aholic junior doctor in BBC drama series This Is Going To Hurt, was a case of right role, right moment — arriving at a personal and career crossroads, and after a period of introspection at the start of the Covid pandemic.

In the midst of directing his debut short Dash, the breakthrough role arrived when “I was starting to explore things that were close to my heart, like my queerness, being a gay man, turning a lens on that myself”, says Fleck Byrne, who was born in West Sussex, England but grew up mostly near Kilkenny in Ireland, and graduated from RADA in 2010.

“At this point in my career, I was just tired of auditioning for the same kind of guys, and I needed to find something that was closer to my truth.” With the support of the show’s creator Adam Kay, lead director Lucy Forbes, Whishaw and the producers, “our work together led to something very honest and beautiful. And to be in something highly watched, when you’re artistically in flow, that’s an amazing opportunity.”

This Is Going To Hurt landed on screens in early 2022, and was preceded by Dash, in which Fleck Byrne directs himself as a stable hand struggling with his femininity in rural Ireland. Already in post is a second short, This Is Not An Attack On Your Parenting (also with an LGBTQ+ theme), while a third short, In Heat, is out to funders. He is also in development on his first feature Celine.

Concurrently, new roles have arrived in the upcoming second season of Australian TV series The Newsreader, set in a 1980s TV newsroom, as a bisexual talk-show host; upcoming UK TV series The Inheritance; and indie dramas Falling Into Place and In Camera, directed respectively by Aylin Tezel and Naqqash Khalid.

An only child with a yen to perform “out of the womb”, Fleck Byrne was always “dead certain” on his chosen profession, and mentions Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko and later Xavier Dolan’s Mommy as films that had a particular impact. Now he is ready for the next phase of his career, this time with firmer purpose. “I know who I am, and I’m standing firmly in my own shoes,” he says. “I’ve grown into an artist, and whatever comes out of that, I’ll go with it.”

Contact: Adam Hogan, Hamilton Hodell