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Brendan Gleeson
Brendan Gleeson at the Moet BIFA 2014.jpg
Gleeson at the 2014 British Independent Film Awards
Born (1955-03-29) 29 March 1955 (age 68)
Alma mater University College Dublin
Occupation
  • Actor
  • film director
Years active 1985–present
Spouse(s)
Mary Weldon
(m. 1982)
Children 4, including Domhnall and Brian

Brendan Gleeson (born 29 March 1955) is an Irish actor and film director. He is the recipient of three IFTA Awards, two BIFA's, and a Primetime Emmy Award and has been nominated twice for a BAFTA Award, five times for a Golden Globe Award and once for an Academy Award. In 2020, he was listed at number 18 on The Irish Times list of Ireland's greatest film actors. He is the father of actors Domhnall Gleeson and Brian Gleeson.

He is known for his supporting roles in films such as Braveheart (1995), Michael Collins (1996), 28 Days Later (2002), Gangs of New York (2002), Cold Mountain (2003), Troy (2004), Suffragette (2015), Paddington 2 (2017), The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018), and The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021). He is also known for his leading roles in films such as The General (1998), In Bruges (2008), The Guard (2011), Calvary (2014), Frankie (2019), and The Banshees of Inisherin (2022) for which he received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

He won a Primetime Emmy Award in 2009 for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in the television film Into the Storm. He also received a Golden Globe Award nomination for his performance as Donald Trump in the Showtime series The Comey Rule (2020). From 2017 to 2019 he starred in the crime series Mr. Mercedes. He received an Emmy Award nomination for Stephen Frears' Sundance TV series State of the Union (2022).

Early life

Gleeson was born in Dublin, the son of Pat (1925–2007) and Frank Gleeson (1918–2010). Gleeson has described himself as having been an avid reader as a child. He received his second-level education at St Joseph's CBS in Fairview, Dublin where he was a member of the school drama group. He received his Bachelor of Arts at University College Dublin, majoring in English and Irish. After training as an actor, he worked for several years as a secondary school teacher of Irish and English at the now defunct Catholic Belcamp College in North County Dublin, which closed in 2004. He was working simultaneously as an actor while teaching, doing semi-professional and professional productions in Dublin and surrounding areas. He left the teaching profession to commit full-time to acting in 1991. I

Career

Brendan Gleeson
Brendan Gleeson, September 2005

As a member of the Dublin-based Passion Machine Theatre company, Gleeson appeared in several of the theatre company's early and highly successful plays such as Brownbread (1987), written by Roddy Doyle and directed by Paul Mercier, Wasters (1985) and Home (1988), written and directed by Paul Mercier. He has also written three plays for Passion Machine: The Birdtable (1987) and Breaking Up (1988), both of which he directed, and Babies and Bathwater (1994) in which he acted. Among his other Dublin theatre work are Patrick Süskind's one-man play The Double Bass and John B. Keane's The Year of the Hiker.

Gleeson started his film career at the age of 34. He first came to prominence in Ireland for his role as Michael Collins in The Treaty, a television film broadcast on RTÉ One, and for which he won a Jacob's Award in 1992. He has acted in such films as Braveheart, I Went Down, Michael Collins, Gangs of New York, Cold Mountain, 28 Days Later, Troy, Kingdom of Heaven, Lake Placid, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Mission: Impossible 2, and The Village. He won critical acclaim for his performance as Irish gangster Martin Cahill in John Boorman's 1998 film The General.

In 2003, Gleeson was the voice of Hugh the Miller in an episode of the Channel 4 animated series Wilde Stories. While Gleeson portrayed Irish statesman Michael Collins in The Treaty, he later portrayed Collins' close collaborator Liam Tobin in the film Michael Collins with Liam Neeson taking the role of Collins. Gleeson later went on to portray Winston Churchill in Into the Storm. Gleeson won an Emmy Award for his performance.

Gleeson played Hogwarts professor Mad-Eye Moody in the fourth, fifth and seventh Harry Potter films. His son Domhnall played Bill Weasley in the seventh and eighth films.

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Brendan with his son Domhnall Gleeson at the Toronto Film Festival 2015

Gleeson provided the voice of Abbot Cellach in The Secret of Kells, an animated film co-directed by Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey of Cartoon Saloon which premiered in February 2009 at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival. Gleeson starred in the short film Six Shooter in 2006, which won an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film. This film was written and directed by Martin McDonagh. In 2008, Gleeson starred in the comedy crime film In Bruges, also written and directed by McDonagh. The film, and Gleeson's performance, enjoyed huge critical acclaim, earning Gleeson several award nominations, including his first Golden Globe nomination. In the movie, Gleeson plays a mentor-like figure for Colin Farrell's hitman. In his review of In Bruges, Roger Ebert described the elder Gleeson as having a "noble shambles of a face and the heft of a boxer gone to seed."

In 2016, he appeared in the video game adaptation Assassin's Creed and Ben Affleck's crime drama Live by Night. In 2017 he finished Psychic, a short he directed and starred in. In 2022, he reunited with Martin McDonagh in the tragic comedy The Banshees of Inisherin starring opposite Colin Farrell. For his performance as Colm Doherty, he has received numerous awards nominations, including the Academy Award, Golden Globe, and Critics' Choice for Best Supporting Actor.

Musical talent

Gleeson is a fiddle and mandolin player, with an interest in Irish folklore. He played the fiddle during his roles in Cold Mountain, Michael Collins, and The Banshees of Inisherin, and also features on Altan's 2009 live album. In the Coen brothers' The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018), Gleeson sings "The Unfortunate Rake". He has also made a contribution in 2019 to the album by Irish folk group Dervish with a version of Rocky Road To Dublin.

Personal life

He has been married to Mary Weldon since 1982. They have four sons; Domhnall, Fergus, Brían, and Rory. Domhnall and Brían are also actors. Gleeson speaks fluent Irish and is an advocate of the promotion of the Irish language. Gleeson is a fan of English football club Aston Villa, as is his son Domhnall.

Filmography

Film

Year Title Role Notes
1990 The Field Quarryman
1992 The Bargain Shop Jim Kennedy
M.A.N.: Matrix Adjusted Normal Dr Abraham Short film
Far and Away Social Club Policeman
Conneely's Choice Josie Conneely Short film
Into the West Inspector Bolger
1995 The Life of Reilly Patient Short film
Braveheart Hamish Campbell
1996 Angela Mooney Dies Again Barney Mooney
Michael Collins Liam Tobin
Trojan Eddie Ginger
1997 Spaghetti Slow Frank Ferguson
Turbulence Stubbs
The Butcher Boy Father Bubbles
A Further Gesture Richard
I Went Down Bunny Kelly
Before I Sleep John Harte Short film
1998 The General Martin Cahill
The Tale of Sweety Barrett Sweet Barrett
1999 This Is My Father Garda Jim
Lake Placid Sheriff Hank Keough
My Life So Far Jim Menries
2000 Mission: Impossible 2 John C. McCloy
Harrison's Flowers Marc Stevenson
Saltwater Simple Simon
Wild About Harry Harry McKee
2001 J.J. Biker
Cáca Milis Pól Short film
Irish-language; English: Cake
The Tailor of Panama Michelangelo "Mickie" Abraxas
A.I. Artificial Intelligence Lord Johnson-Johnson
2002 28 Days Later Frank
Gangs of New York Walter "Monk" McGinn
Dark Blue Jack Van Meter
2003 Cold Mountain Stobrod Thewes
2004 In My Country De Jager
Troy Menelaus
The Village August Nicholson
Six Shooter Donnelly Short film
2005 Kingdom of Heaven Raynald of Châtillon
Breakfast on Pluto John Joe Kenny
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody
2006 Studs Walter Keegan
The Tiger's Tail Liam O'Leary
2007 Black Irish Desmond
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody
Beowulf Wiglaf Motion-capture
2008 In Bruges Ken
2009 The Secret of Kells Abbot Cellach Voice
Perrier's Bounty Darren Perrier
2010 Green Zone Martin Brown
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody
Noreen Con Keogh Short film
2011 The Guard Sergeant Gerry Boyle
Albert Nobbs Dr Holloran
The Cup Dermot Weld
2012 Safe House David Barlow
The Raven Captain Charles Hamilton
The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! Pirate with Gout Voice
The Company You Keep Henry Osborne
2013 The Smurfs 2 Victor Doyle
The Grand ... Murray French
2014 Calvary Father James Lavelle
Edge of Tomorrow General Brigham
Song of the Sea Conor / Mac Lir Voices; English / Irish versions
Stonehearst Asylum The Alienist
2015 Suffragette Arthur Steed
In the Heart of the Sea Old Thomas Nickerson
Pursuit Searbhán
2016 Alone in Berlin Otto Quangel
Trespass Against Us Colby
Atlantic Narrator Voice; Documentary
Live by Night Thomas Coughlin
Assassin's Creed Joseph Lynch
2017 Hampstead Donald Horner
Paddington 2 Knuckles McGinty
2018 Captain Morten and the Spider Queen Father Voice
Psychic Jeremiah Short film; also director
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs Irishman (Clarence) Segment: "The Mortal Remains"
2019 Frankie Jimmy
Ghost in the Graveyard Student / Extra
2021 Riverdance: The Animated Adventure The Huntsman Voice
The Tragedy of Macbeth King Duncan
2022 The Banshees of Inisherin Colm Doherty
2023 A Greyhound of a Girl Paddy Voice
2024 Joker: Folie à Deux Post-production

Television

Year Title Role Notes
1989 Dear Sarah Brendan Dowd Television film
1990 Hard Shoulder Lorry Driver Television film
1990 Glenroe Sam Treacy Drama Series - Soap
1991 Saint Oscar Television film
The Treaty Michael Collins Television film
In the Border Country Farmer Television play
1993 The Snapper Lester Television film
Screenplay Thomas Macken Episode: "Love Lies Bleeding"
1994 The Lifeboat Leslie Parry 9 episodes
1995 Kidnapped Red Fox Television film
1998 Making the Cut Flanagan Television film
2005 Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks Uncle Ferny Voice; Episodes: "Wish Upon A Story: Part 1 and 2"
2009 Into the Storm Winston Churchill HBO Television film
2010 1916 Seachtar na Cásca Narrator Voice; Documentary series
2017–2019 Mr. Mercedes Bill Hodges Lead Role; 30 episodes
2020 The Comey Rule Donald Trump 2 episodes
2021 Frank of Ireland Liam Episode: "Memento Mary"
2022 State of the Union Scott 10 episodes
Saturday Night Live Himself (host) Episode: "Brendan Gleeson/Willow"

Theatre

Year Title Role Playwright Venue
1987 Brownbread Mr. Farrell Roddy Doyle Passion Machine Theatre Company, Dublin
1989 War George Passion Machine Theatre Company, Dublin

Awards and nominations

See also

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