Brendan Gleeson

Brendan Gleeson

Born (1955-03-29) 29 March 1955
Dublin, Ireland
Nationality Irish
Other names Breese's Gleese's
Occupation Actor, director
Years active 1989–present
Spouse(s) Mary (Weldon) (m. 1982)
Children 4, including Domhnall and Brían Gleeson

Brendan Gleeson (born 29 March 1955) is an Irish actor. His best-known performances include supporting roles in films such as Braveheart, Gangs of New York, 28 Days Later, Troy, and the Harry Potter films and leading roles in films such as In Bruges, The Guard, and Calvary. He won an Emmy Award in 2009 for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in the film Into the Storm. He is also the father of actors Domhnall Gleeson and Brian Gleeson.

Early life

Gleeson was born in Dublin, the son of Pat and Frank Gleeson.[1] Gleeson has described himself as having been an avid reader as a child.[2] He received his second level education at St. Joseph's CBS in Fairview, Dublin where he was a member of the school drama group. 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.[3][4] 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.

In an NPR interview to promote Calvary, he revealed that he was abused by a Christian Brother, saying, "I remember a particular Christian Brother dropped the hand on me at one point. It wasn’t very traumatic and it wasn’t at all sustained, it was just one of these things where something odd happened."[5]


As a member of the Dublin-based Passion Machine, Gleeson appeared in several of the theatre company's early and highly successful plays such as Wasters (1985), Brownbread (1987) and Home (1988). 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.[6] 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.[7] 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 II, 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.[8]

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.[9] 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 film.

Brendan Gleeson, September 2005

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.[10]

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 who also wrote and directed In Bruges in 2008. 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."[11]

Gleeson will be making his directorial debut in a film adaptation of Flann O'Brien's novel At Swim-Two-Birds. The Irish production company Parallel Pictures will produce the film with a budget of $11 million. Colin Farrell, Gabriel Byrne, and Cillian Murphy have been attached to star in the film, which was originally set for release in 2010.[12] In October 2009, however, Gleeson expressed concern that the Irish Film Board's budget might be reduced given the state of the Irish economy and that At Swim-Two-Birds might fall through.[13] Gleeson confirmed in July 2011, that he has secured funding for the project. He described the writing of the script as tortuous, saying that it has taken fourteen drafts so far.[14]

In July 2012, he started filming The Grand Seduction with Taylor Kitsch, a remake of Jean-François Pouliot's French-Canadian La Grande Séduction (2003) directed by Don McKellar.[15] He will appear in Ben Affleck's crime drama Live by Night, scheduled for release in October 2017.

Musical talent

Gleeson is a fiddle and mandolin player, with an interest in Irish folklore.[2] He played the fiddle during his role in Cold Mountain, Michael Collins and also The Grand Seduction, and also features on Altan's 2009 live album.[16]

Personal life

He has been married to Mary (née Weldon) since 1982. He has four sons; Domhnall, Brían, Fergus, and Rúairí. Domhnall and Brían are also actors.[17] Gleeson speaks fluent Irish and is an advocate of the promotion of the Irish language. Gleeson is a fan of Football League Championship team Aston Villa, as is his son Domhnall.[18]


Year Film Role Notes
1989 Dear Sarah Brendan Dowd TV
1990 Hard Shoulder Lorry Driver TV
1990 The Field Quarryman
1991 In the Border Country Farmer
1991 Saint Oscar TV
1991 The Treaty Michael Collins TV
1992 The Bargain Shop Jim Kennedy
1992 M.A.N.: Matrix Adjusted Normal Dr. Abraham Short
1992 Far and Away Social Club Policeman
1992 Conneely's Choice Josie Conneely Short
1992 Into the West Inspector Bolger
1993 The Snapper Lester TV
1993 Love Lies Bleeding Thomas Macken TV
1994 The Lifeboat Leslie Parry TV series
1995 The Life of Reilly Patient Short
1995 Braveheart Hamish Campbell
1995 Kidnapped Colin Campbell of Glenure, the Red Fox
1996 Angela Mooney Barney Mooney
1996 Michael Collins Liam Tobin
1996 Trojan Eddie Ginger
1997 Angela Mooney Barney Mooney
1997 Spaghetti Slow Frank Ferguson
1997 Turbulence Stubbs
1997 The Butcher Boy Father Bubbles
1997 A Further Gesture Richard
1997 I Went Down Bunny Kelly Nominated—National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor
1998 Making the Cut Flanagan TV
1998 The General Martin Cahill Nominated—National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama
1998 This Is My Father Garda Jim TV
1998 The Tale of Sweety Barrett Sweet Barrett
1999 Lake Placid Sheriff Hank Keough
1999 My Life So Far Jim Menries
2000 Mission: Impossible II John C. McCloy
2000 Harrison's Flowers Marc Stevenson
2000 Saltwater Simple Simon
2000 Wild About Harry Harry McKee
2001 J.J. Biker
2001 Cáca Milis Paul Short
2001 The Tailor of Panama Michelangelo 'Mickie' Abraxas
2001 A.I. Artificial Intelligence Lord Johnson-Johnson
2002 28 Days Later Frank
2002 Gangs of New York Walter 'Monk' McGinn
2002 Dark Blue Jack Van Meter
2003 Cold Mountain Stobrod Thewes
2004 In My Country De Jager
2004 Troy Menelaus
2004 The Village August Nicholson
2004 Six Shooter Donnelly Short
2005 Kingdom of Heaven Raynald of Châtillon
2005 Breakfast on Pluto John Joe Kenny
2005 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody/Bartemius Crouch Jr.
2006 Studs Walter Keegan Nominated—IFTA Award for Best Actor in a Lead Role – Film
2006 The Tiger's Tail Liam O'Leary
2007 Black Irish Desmond
2007 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody
2007 Beowulf Wiglaf Voice
2008 In Bruges Ken Nominated—IFTA Award for Best Actor in a Lead Role – Film
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Nominated—British Independent Film Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
2009 The Secret of Kells Abbot Cellach Voice
2009 Into the Storm Winston Churchill TV
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor – Miniseries or a Movie
Satellite Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated—IFTA Award for Best Actor in a Lead Role – Television
Nominated—British Academy Television Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
2009 Perrier's Bounty Darren Perrier Nominated—IFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Film
2010 Green Zone Martin Brown
2010 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody
2010 Noreen Con Keogh Short film
2011 The Guard Sergeant Gerry Boyle Nominated—British Independent Film Award for Best Actor
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture
Nominated—IFTA Award for Best Actor in a Lead Role - Film
2011 Albert Nobbs Dr. Holloran Nominated—IFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Film
2011 The Cup Dermot Weld
2012 Safe House David Barlow
2012 The Raven Captain Charles Hamilton
2012 The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! Pirate with Gout Voice
2012 The Company You Keep Henry Osborne
2013 The Smurfs 2 Victor Doyle
2013 The Grand Seduction Murray French
2014 Calvary Father James Lavelle Boston Online Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
British Independent Film Award for Best Actor
San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
IFTA Award for Best Actor in a Lead Role - Film
Nominated—Detroit Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
2014 Edge of Tomorrow General Brigham
2014 Song of the Sea Conor Voice
2014 Stonehearst Asylum The Alienist
2015 Suffragette Arthur Steed British Independent Film Award for Best Supporting Actor
2015 In the Heart of the Sea Old Thomas Nickerson
2015 Pursuit Searbhán
2016 Alone in Berlin Otto Quangel
2016 Trespass Against Us Colby
2016 Atlantic Narrator Voice
2016 Assassin's Creed Joseph Post-production
2016 Live by Night Thomas Coughlin Post-production
2017 Paddington 2[19] Knuckles McGinty Filming


  1. "The heart of the matter" Archived 11 November 2014 at the Wayback Machine. 17 February 2011,
  2. 1 2 In Conversations with Eamon Dunphy 10 November 2007, RTÉ
  3. "School is out for Brandon Gleeson", 23 July 1999, Entertainment Weekly
  4. "Gannon to get €400m for Belcamp College site" Archived 4 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine. 10 September 2006, Business Post
  5. "Brendan Gleeson reveals abuse by Christian Brother".
  6. "Irish Theatre Institute's Playography database". Irish Theatre Institute.
  7. "STARS WHO HIT IT BIG AFTER 30". The Hype.
  8. "The Devoted Friend". Wilde Stories. Channel 4. Retrieved 30 December 2011.
  9. Brendan Gleeson on
  10. "THE SECRET OF KELLS to screen at the Dublin International Film Festival" 10 December 2008, Irish Film Board web site
  11. Review of In Bruges by Ebert at
  12. RTÉ article on At Swim Two Birds RTÉ
  13. Quote from Irish Examiner re Irish Film Board funding Irish Examiner
  14. Gleeson, Sinead (16 July 2011). "Capturing the Glee Factor". Irish Times. Retrieved 18 July 2011.
  15. Fleming, Mike (30 July 2012). "Brendan Gleeson, Taylor Kitsch Find 'The Grand Seduction'". PMC. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  16. "Altan EPK". Retrieved 1 February 2012.
  17. "Capturing the Glee factor", 16 July 2011, The Irish Times
  18. "Star Wars actor Gleeson: Villa Wembley win was special day", 13 May 2015, Aston Villa

External links

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