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July 14, 2015

Irish Highs

Eoin Macken is far more than just a pretty face.

Hillary Atkin

Being named the face of an Abercrombie & Fitch campaign could be the height of a career.

But for Eoin Macken, that 2003 credit is just one of many.

The Irish actor — whose given name is pronounced Owen — plays the volatile Dr. TC Callahan on NBC’s The Night Shift, the hospital drama that just wrapped its second season. He also turned heads this spring as Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee during the time of Jesus, in National Geographic Channel’s Killing Jesus.

“I wanted to do it because he’s a dark character,” Macken says of the role as the Roman leader. “It’s interesting playing the human side of this person who had pressure from the Romans, his wife and the areas he was governing while trying to keep a grasp on power.”

Growing up in Dublin, Macken gravitated toward drama in high school and pursued it in college. After graduation came modeling — for Abercrombie & Fitch, Ralph Lauren and others — then his first major film role, in the 2005 feature Studs, alongside noted Irish actor Brendan Gleeson.

He’s racked up other television credits, including the BBC One series Merlin, in which he swashbuckled as Gwaine, friend of the future king Arthur. But Macken’s talents extend beyond acting. His novel, Kingdom of Scars, about a young boy growing up in Ireland, was published last year.

He is also a prolific filmmaker, having written and directed several films, including Cold in 2013, in which he starred opposite Tom Hopper.

For The Night Shift, Macken did a lot of research on the military and the war in Afghanistan — his character is an ex-army medic who watched his brother die on the battlefield. “It’s is a delicate part to play,” he says. “But there’s a lot of freedom. It’s invigorating playing a character who’s on edge, not quite sure what’s he’s going to do next.”

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