Game of Thrones and The Fall actor, who made several memorable appearances at the Lyric, Belfast and starred in the long-running TV hit Give My Head Peace
BJ Hogg, who died on his 65th birthday on April 30, was one of Northern Ireland’s most popular actors, best known for his portrayal of Big Mervyn – a burly, dim-witted loyalist – in the long-running local television and stage hit, Give My Head Peace.
Audiences elsewhere knew him as Addam Marbrand in Game of Thrones (2011); a bereft father of a murdered daughter in Allan Cubitt’s The Fall (2013-16), which also starred Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan; and as a protestant widower grappling with his daughter’s involvement in Irish dance in the 1996 Oscar-nominated short film Dance Lexie Dance.
Born in Lisburn, County Antrim, he trained as a chef but changed career when two hotels he was working in were bombed during the Troubles. A period as a musician in showbands followed before he began acting.
An early association with the comedy troupe The Hole in the Wall Gang led to later fame in Give My Head Peace, a satire on Northern Ireland’s sectarian divide. He appeared in more than 70 episodes since 1995, as well as a 2017 touring stage production.
Hogg was a more subtle and nuanced actor than his cartoon loyalist suggested. He made several memorable appearances at Belfast’s Lyric Theatre, notably as Teach in David Mamet’s American Buffalo (2002), Frank in Shelagh Stephenson’s The Memory of Water (2003) and Adolphus in Seán O’Casey’s The Shadow of a Gunman (2005).
He was also seen as Brennan in Shivaun O’Casey’s admired revival of her father’s The Plough and the Stars, which toured Ireland and the United States, and was the only foreign actor in an all-Russian cast in Threshold at the Moscow Arts Theatre.
Other strong stage performances in Belfast included John Anderson’s On Eagle’s Wing at the Odyssey Arena (2004), Martin Lynch’s The Interrogation of Ambrose Fogarty at the Grand Opera House (2007) and Stephen Large’s black comedy Three’s a Shroud at the Waterfront Hall in 2017.
On film, he was seen in the 2004 adaptation of Owen McCafferty’s Mickybo and Me, in the Richard Attenborough-directed Closing the Ring (2007), alongside Bill Murray and Saoirse Ronan in City of Ember (2008), and in Hunger, director Steve McQueen’s acclaimed 2008 drama about the 1981 hunger strikes that claimed the lives of 10 Irish republicans.
William Henry Brian Hogg was born on April 30, 1955. He is survived by his wife, the costume designer Elish Hogg, and their two children.