Development & Alumni Relations Office 

MEET DESMOND EASTWOOD – NOT JUST ANOTHER 'NORMAL' QUEEN’S LAW GRADUATEDesmond Eastwood pictured in front of large gate posts of country estate in Italy

14 May 2020

His recent credits include the role of Conor in the soon to be released Black Medicine (2020), directed by his older brother Colum; that of Taz-Ran in Krypton (2018) and of Owen in Blood (2020) for Virgin Media One – not bad for Queen’s LLB (2014) graduate, Desmond Eastwood from Lisburn.

It is, however, for playing the part of Niall in BBC Three’s new 12-part drama Normal People – one of the most watched shows on iPlayer – that Desmond has been thrust into the public spotlight.

Based on Irish author Sally Rooney's New York Times bestselling novel of the same name, Normal People charts the joy and heartache of the turbulent ‘first love’ relationship between two young people from the West of Ireland, Marianne (played by Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Connell (by Paul Mescal).

Desmond’s character Niall – described by former Queen’s Graduate of the Year, Lisa McGee (of Derry Girls fame) as the ‘soundest person’ in the drama – becomes Connell’s roommate when the pair house share while attending Trinity College, Dublin.  

Born in Lisburn, County Antrim to Desmond and Mary Eastwood, Desmond has five siblings - brothers Colum, Luke and Pearse  and sisters Holly and Lana. He is a former pupil of Friends’ School in Lisburn, where he was a keen rugby player and won an Irish Schools badminton medal.

It was while studying Law at Queen's that he first became interested in acting. Initially inspired by his older brother Colum, film-maker and fellow Queen’s Law graduate (LLB 2009), Desmond decided to pursue his acting dream and moved to Dublin to join the Gaiety School of Acting.

Desmond’s film debut came in 2014 when he played the role of Pearse in the short movie Tout, since when he has appeared in almost 20 television and movie productions. Among those roles have been as Taz-Ran in Krypton, as a Saxon Messenger in Vikings (due out in November 2020) and as Owen Mooney in the television series Blood, where he performs alongside fellow Northern Ireland actor Adrian Dunbar. He also acted as an extra on HBO’s Game of Thrones.

Among Desmond’s stage credits are as Brendan in The Lieutenant of Inishmore at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin (cut short by the coronavirus pandemic), and as James in Blackout in the Lyric Theatre, Belfast - a production which also toured throughout Northern Ireland. He also starred in his own one-man show Black Eyed Dog for the Scene & Heard Festival in the Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin.

Screen credits include the NI Screen funded short films My Favourite Paul and Skinny plus the RTE Storyland project, Social Influence and the feature film Thursday's Child, and the lead role of Owen in American filmmaker MD Neely's short film Unseen. That piece was used as a suicide awareness tool across schools in America and Ireland.

Though he had a number of big projects lined up for the early part of 2020, Desmond has returned to Lisburn during the current coronavirus ‘lockdown’.

Speaking to Maureen Coleman in Sunday Life, Desmond said: "Because the book was such a great piece of work and was so successful, we knew there was a lot of anticipation for the drama. Even Barack Obama had it in his top 10 books of the year!

"The viewing figures are unbelievable and there have been so many recognisable people around the world tweeting about it.”

In addition to Lisa McGee’s endorsement of Desmond on Twitter (and who could rule out a future part for him in Derry Girls?), Richard E Grant (who said it was the most ‘emotionally charged’ show he’d ever seen) and James Corden (who claimed the drama had ‘changed his life’), Normal People is enjoying widespread praise from the highest quarters.   

There can be no doubt that the phenomenally popular BBC/HULU series will bring many post coronavirus offers – from home and abroad – to the bright and highly promising young Northern Ireland actor.

'Normal People' continues on BBC One NI on Monday evenings at 9pm; catch up on previous episodes on the BBC iPlayer.

For general enquiries about this story or to submit a graduate news item, please contact Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office, Queen’s University Belfast.

Credit: main image above © Element Pictures / Enda Bowe; headline image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay  

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