Cheat Sheet: Brendan Gleeson


Brendan Gleeson

Date of Birth:

March 29th, 1955

Place of birth:

Dublin, Ireland

Special moves:


Films include:

The Guard, In Bruges, Mission Impossible II, Harry Potter, Perrier’s Bounty, Troy, Gangs of New York, Braveheart

What you probably already know:

Brendan Gleeson is one of those reliable, jobbing character actors who seems to be constantly in work, whether in big budget major productions such as Troy or in indie films like The Secret Of Kells or the remarkable In Bruges.

Prior to In Bruges, for which he was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor BAFTA, but wrongfully overlooked for an Oscar nod, Gleeson also appeared in Martin McDonagh’s Six Shooter, which won the Oscar for Best Live Action Short in 2005. The film is of a similar ilk to In Bruges, darkly comic and rich with wonderful dialogue, and is a perfect vehicle for Gleeson’s restrained acting style.

Gleeson also has experience in tackling important historical figures, even winning an Emmy for his performance as Winston Churchill in Into The Storm. He also played Irish hero Michael Collins early on in his career in a movie for Irish television, and then later he played Liam Tobin, Collins’ close collaborator in a bigger budget Collins biopic, in which Liam Neeson took the lead role. Apparently on the first day of shooting, Neeson strolled up to Gleeson and said “Here’s the real Michael Collins now! I’ll be picking your brains!”.

What you might not know:

Despite having come to the big screen relatively late in his career, at the age of 34, Gleeson was a successful stage actor for many years. After graduating from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, he worked at the National Theatre, The Globe Theatre and also as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-Upon-Avon. Gleeson was also very well known for performing the plays of Anton Chekhov in the West End. Weighty stuff indeed. However, in the interim between stage and screen, Gleeson worked as a secondary school teacher in his native Ireland, teaching English, in which he has a BA from Trinity College Dublin, Irish Gaelic and Physical Education.

Gleeson is also a pretty fine fiddle player, and even picked up the instrument for his roles in Cold Mountain and the aforementioned Michael Collins. He can be occasionally found playing in live sessions at Hughes’ Pub on Chancery Street in Dublin.

Also, Roger Ebert once brilliantly described Gleeson as having a “noble shambles of a face and the heft of a boxer gone to seed.” The only other man we can think of who could be described as a noble shambles would be Baldrick from Blackadder, so good company indeed!

Brendan Gleeson quote:

“They can’t typecast me – I keep changing my weight. If I feel I’ve done something and they ask me to do the same thing again, I just couldn’t be bothered. Some of the decisions I make are purely about that. If I’ve just played a baddie, I don’t want to do another stupid baddie.”

What to say at a dinner party:

“Brendan Gleeson is long overdue an Oscar nod. He picks his films with such care that you know whatever he’s in will be a quality production. I hope he lands some more leading roles, and maybe even collaborates with Colin Farrell again, as their chemistry on In Bruges was a joy from start to finish.”

What not to say at a dinner party:

“What do you mean he taught PE? The bloke’s massive…and have you cooked this chicken all the way through?”

Final thought:

Gleeson is one of the busiest actors around, averaging around three films a year since he started in 1989, and you’re going to be seeing a lot of him coming up. Not only is he appearing in The Cup and Albert Nobbs, with Aaron Johnson and Glenn Close, which are set to be released later this year, but he is popping up in a whopping FIVE films in 2012, including the Edgar Allen Poe biopic The Raven, starring John Cusack, and Connemara Days, a film about the John Ford and John Wayne collaboration The Quiet Man, filmed in Cong in rural Ireland. Also, if you haven’t already seen The Guard, then what are you waiting for? An early contender for the best comedy of the year, and Gleeson’s performance is yet again terrific. Learn more about The Guard at the official facebook page here

Anything else you think the world should know? Drop us a comment below!

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