Sean Cronin on playing so many villains: ‘Have you seen my face?’

The Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation baddie talks working with Vinnie Jones and leaving the world of goth music for film.

Sean Cronin Loaded
Super villain Cronin's latest role sees him wreak havoc as a gangster in Kill Kane.

Sean Cronin was a member of goth band The Marionettes in the 90s, when he was spotted walking down London’s Portobello Road and told he would make a fantastic film baddie.

The Marionettes had supported Pearl Jam and Nirvana, but Cronin was soon lured by the seemingly brighter lights of the film world.

Soon after, he found himself on the set of James Bond’s The World Is Not Enough with Pierce Brosnan, clinging onto Denise Richards, a menacing look in his eye. It kicked off his many arch-villain roles.

Now 51, Cronin has starred in everything from Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets to The Mummy and a more recent stint in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation alongside Tom Cruise. And as far as playing villains goes, if it ain’t broken…

Always the baddie
Always the baddie Sean in character in Kill Kane.

So what is it about Cronin that makes him such a convincingly sinister baddie?

“Have you seen my face?” he laughs. “I think it has a lot to do with my face. I also really get into it in each film. I’ve been in 75 films and I’ve died in every single one. I got electrocuted in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation 52 times, but you only see it once. They kept asking me to come back and do it from different angles.”

Such is Cronin’s dedication that he adopts a menacing mental-state before he even enters audition rooms.

“I like to have a bit of a method acting approach like Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill The Butcher,” he grins. “When I’m going to an audition, I’m in character to everyone I meet on the way there, from the receptionist to the casting director.”

Someone else he may have terrified was Denise Richards.

“I had to spend a few days with my arms around Denise’s waist and she didn’t even say hello to me,” he recalls.

He's behind you
He's behind you Cronin's first villainous role was in 1999s The World Is Not Enough alongside Denise Richards.

Cronin’s most recent role is in British gangster film Kill Kane alongside Vinnie Jones. Cronin is still amused at the fact that notorious hard-man Jones plays an ordinary bloke in the movie, while Cronin’s Kane is a terrifying murderer.

“Vinnie, funnily enough, plays the goodie which is pretty unusual,” he says. “My job was to out-villain Vinnie, which hopefully I did. had great fun working with him. It was quite amusing on the set as both Vinnie and myself can be quite intimidating, but the young and talented director Adam Stephen Kelly handled us brilliantly.

“Although he might not be an Oscar-winning actor, Vinnie is just very good at being him. He’s great on the set. We shot the entire film in nine days. It’s low budget and a gangster flick and it really does have its moments – it’s a great little film.”

Later this year, Cronin will star alongside Eddie Redmayne and Colin Farrell in Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, based on a JK Rowling short story set around Harry Potter’s Hogwarts.

“The film is set in New York and was just a wonderful experience,” Cronin recalls. “JK had insisted that we were all well looked after so there was just this really lovely atmosphere on set. I was also bowled over by Eddie Redmayne, he’s a terrific guy.”

Cronin has also dabbled in directing and cinematography and is about to go into production directing dark period drama Irongate and Give Them Wings, a semi-biopic of severely disabled football fan Paul Hodgson.

Does he miss his days of goth metal with The Marionettes?

“Back then, I was bit of a real-life villain,” he admits. “Now I just get to pretend I’m one.”

Kill Kane is out now on DVD in the UK and March 1 in the US.

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Loaded’s entertainment editor Jennifer O’Brien is an award-winning journalist who has written extensively about popular culture as a national newspaper columnist and author. Follow her on Twitter at @Jen_OBrien1

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