Since graduating from drama school in 2007, Stephen Hagan's beguiling charm, natural stature and technical virtuosity has earned him the praise of critics, bagged him a handful of leading roles and marked him out as an actor to watch.
Raised in Greenisland in County Antrim, Stephen grew up with a passion for Rugby Union and was captain of his school's team. As he pondered his future he could have easily entered the family property developing business or pursued a career in accountancy but after experiencing an acting stint at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast the urge to act drew him to London and the prestigious drama school, LAMDA.
It was during his final year at LAMDA that he landed the part that kick-started his career - that of Vito Barratini, Michelangelo's muse and the inspirational model for the statue of David – an imposing force at the centre of Anthony Sher's play, The Giant, performed at the Hampstead Theatre in 2007. This was a perfect challenge for an actor prepared to take risks beyond the call of duty; although Stephen modestly puts down winning the role to: "having curly hair and not being circumcised".
He followed this with his first film role - an action-horror film, Against the Dark (a chance to flex his muscles alongside Steven Segal) before landing a regular role in The Cut, the BBC’s fast-paced drama about a group of friends living in London. Stephen plays smooth businessman Ryan Hathaway, who harbours ambitions to take over the local café. It aired in Autumn 2010, both on BBC2 and online in daily installments.
Stephen made his theatrical West-end debut – as Mickey Deans, Judy Garland’s fifth and final husband in the Terry Johnston directed End of the Rainbow, which charts Garland’s final months of her life in London.
"Initially he tries really hard to get her off the drugs", Stephen reflects, "but realising he can’t stop her getting hold of them, he tries to help her by controlling the drug supply – with tragic consequences". With Tracie Bennett as Garland, the play opened at the Trafalgar Studios on Nov 2010 and ran for an extended run of 6 months to critical acclaim
Stephen then went on to feature in the new ITV drama Injustice this year, which saw him star alongside James Purefoy and Dirvla Kirwan as an ambitious young solicitor.
Since then Stephen has just finished a year of leading roles at the Royal Shakespeare Company and is now concentrating on screen work.
With his career in the ascendancy, how does he feel about the inevitable attention that will continue to come his way? "My family will not let my feet leave the ground an inch", he says. "And meanwhile, my sole aim is just to keep on working".