Michael Flatley has urged young people to “go for it” as he spoke about his motivation for making his debut feature film, saying people had told him it was “impossible”.
The dancer and choreographer (64) has written, directed and also stars in the spy thriller Blackbird, in which he plays former MI6 operative Victor Blackley who is drawn back into a world of espionage he left behind.
The film screened at the Monaco Streaming Film Festival last year, where Flatley picked up the best actor award.
'It's exactly the kind of movie she would have loved'
Riverdance star Michael Flatley told #BBCBreakfast that his latest career move in a spy thriller is what his mum would have always wanted pic.twitter.com/Gs4N89pqKf
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) August 30, 2022
He told BBC Breakfast that he had been proud to be able to give a host of talent their first roles in the film, adding: “Young people are remarkably talented, and I love the young minds.
“And I’ll tell you what, the big motivation for me making Blackbird is all the people that said ‘Impossible. You can’t do it. You can’t be an actor – you’re a dancer’. I mean, I’ve heard it till I’m blue in the face and you just have to go for it.
“And there’s so many people out there that have a dream to do something or be somebody or do something great, and they’re paralysed by fear. ‘What’s everybody gonna think? What are other people gonna say?’
“You can’t let that stop you, stand up, throw your best shot and let the chips fall where they may.”
Flatley added: “Especially the young people, go for it. Don’t listen to other people. You have to just go for it. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed.
“There’s no shame in failure, the shame is not getting up and trying. That’s the way I look at life.”
Flatley, who was born into a blue-collar Irish-American family in Chicago, was catapulted to fame through Riverdance, which was first performed as an interval break in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1994.
It was extended into a full-length show and opened at Dublin’s Point Theatre in 1995, followed by Flatley’s own stage show creation Lord Of The Dance.
He has gone on to create, produce and direct other productions including Feet Of Flames and Celtic Tiger.
Blackbird also stars Hollywood actor Eric Roberts, Robin Hood’s Patrick Bergin, Game of Thrones actor Ian Beattie and Nicole Evans, whose credits include a role in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger.
Flatley recalled how his mother had encouraged him to pursue acting, saying: “For 25 years we toured the world with Lord Of The Dance. We sold out every big venue from Mexico to Moscow, from Tokyo to Madison Square Garden in New York, we were very blessed.
“And on Sundays, my dear old Irish mum would call and say: ‘Give up the dance and go make a few movies’ and I used to say: ‘Mum, there are 200 people counting on me for their livelihood and selling out 15,000 seats and making a few quid’, if I don’t mind saying so.
“I wasn’t about to give it up.
“But, of course, I got a lot of miles on me and my body started to argue back and as a result, St Patrick’s Day 2016 was my last dance at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, and she was on the phone and she said, ‘you have no more excuses’. So I gave her my word and here we are: happy days.”
His mother Eilish died later in 2016, but Flatley said he knows she is watching over him and that she would be proud as Blackbird is the kind of movie that she “would have loved”.
The dancer revealed that since the release of the trailer there have been offers for other projects and he is currently working on a dance movie titled Dream Dancer.
He said the latest film, which follows a girl who dreams about “fabulous dance sequences”, has his attention currently and he knows a lot of people in America are keen on a project about dance.