Love, kindness, family, joy. For some people, October may be too early to start thinking about Christmas … but is it ever too early to be thinking about the spirit the season embodies?
October 4, the long-awaited and eagerly anticipated family Christmas film Santa Fake will finally make its debut in select theaters around the US and on iTunes.
In the movie, Damian McGinty takes the lead as Pat Keeley, a young man from Northern Ireland who was orphaned at birth. Sweet, gentle Pat travels, undocumented, to New York City, where he gets a job in an Irish pub. What he doesn't realize is that the man who hired him and took him under his wing is actually a crime boss! When Pat is asked to deliver two mysterious briefcases, a swirl of mayhem and chaos land him in Santa Fe, New Mexico. There, Pat is a fugitive from both the authorities and the gangsters. A chance stroll through the shopping mall puts him in the path of Emily (fellow Glee alum Heather Morris), who is desperately in need of someone to be the mall's Santa Claus. Pat hides in plain sight under a white beard and red suit and charms the children—and adults—with his humor and, of course, his singing! Through it all the spirit of Christmas, the kindness of strangers, and the guidance of a special guardian help Pat discover this jolly disguise is more than just a cover story: it is his destiny.
For Damian, taking on the role of Pat Keeley required a leap of faith. When he first got word of the movie in November 2017, starring in a movie was the furthest thing from his mind.
"I got a phone call from my agent an hour before I had a really big, live, 10th anniversary shoot for Celtic Thunder. She told me on the phone that there was a movie being made, and the creators were really interested in seeing me for the lead role. So, I got the script sent through, and immediately really liked it. I tend to get a lot of scripts per year, but this very clearly fit me in a way that something has rarely done before. Lead Irish role who sings. It was perfect. So I booked the role, and committed. It was incredibly daunting to look at. I had six weeks to prepare for the movie, but I was on tour in North America with Symphony Orchestras at the time. I would be learning scenes side stage. The idea of carrying a movie really excited me. A challenge I had never faced before, and my personality thrives off of that. I had such a great time and learned a lot.”
But one thing Damian lives by is the idea that you can’t get anywhere if you don’t take chances.
"This was, for sure, a risk. Jumping into something that i had never done before. I couldn’t turn it down, though. Working with all of those incredible people, people I watched as a kid. What an incredible learning experience. It has me in a really good place for whatever might come next in the acting world."
And so, in the winter of 2017/2018, Damian flew to Santa Fe, New Mexico, for a few whirlwind weeks of filming.
"It was intense. I spent every spare second going over lines. A few sentences on a Glee episode was one thing, but for Santa Fake I was carrying almost every scene. If I didn’t know my stuff, I knew I’d be holding up the entire production. But after a few days, I really settled into it. I was buzzing. It was incredible. I felt like I was in the zone. I could feel that I’d improved exponentially since Glee, and that was the feedback I was getting from others as well. It was a comfort thing. In Glee, I was uncomfortable due to the fact I felt a bit part player. That just isn’t who I am. I work better the more responsibility that I have.
"The experience sparked a new passion in me. I loved it. Don’t get me wrong—I’ll always sing. Singing is just part of who I am. But I’m excited to be branching out into more acting, as well. It’s an incredibly difficult and competitive world. Singing is as difficult but in different ways. In singing you have a bit more control. You can build a fan base and create art, and hope to get better and grow a brand as an artist. Acting is purely about craft and skill. You can’t create your own acting album, for example. You are part of a much bigger team. I have no idea what it’ll look like yet, I always have conversations about projects, and I’ve gotten really close to big projects recently, but as of right now, I’m really curious to see what will be next in that world.
"One of the things I love most in life is the opportunity to grow, to learn, to expand my skills. Santa Fake gave me a chance and a new path I didn’t even realize I’d love so much. If I’m honest, I’m pretty proud of how it all turned out. I truly hope the audiences will love the experience as much as I did. I think it’s an honest, fun, warm family Christmas movie. It’ll pop up a lot of places in the next few months, and I hope you enjoy it."