Brendan Gleeson has roles in both Perrier’s Bounty and Green Zone
29 March, 1955, Dublin, Ireland
The lazy line to take on this scene-stealing character actor is he was a maths teacher for ten years before he decided to become and actor, and got his big break playing Mel Gibson’s right hand man in Braveheart. That’s all true, but it’s not the whole story. Gleeson loved drama from a young age. In school he performed in Waiting for Godot and upon leaving performed at the Dublin Shakespeare Festival then studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He returned to Dublin and continued acting on stage, supporting himself and his family (which now numbers four sons) with teaching, and at some point went back to England to do a couple of seasons at the Royal Shakespeare Company. So by the time Jim Sheridan cast him in The Field in 1990 and Stephen Frears in The Snapper three years later and Gibson two more after that, Gleeson was hardly a newcomer to performing. Swiftly thereafter, Neil Jordan made great use of him in The Butcher Boy as did John Boorman in The General and before he knew it Gleeson was being cast by Scorsese (in Gangs of New York) and Spielberg (A.I.). These days the former teacher alternates between blockbuster (Harry Potters), indies (In Bruges) and prestige pictures (Green Zone).
What’s he up to now?
Currently playing garrulous villain Darren Perrier in Dublin-set crime comedy Perrier’s Bounty.
What he says about playing a comic villain
‘There has to be an element of danger to him. The conflict in this film has to be real. At the same time, he’s a larger than life character. So that was the balance to strike: making sure you don’t have a great time playing this charming gangster, because there’s the presence of evil there. But then bullies don’t find it hard to be funny and terrifying – they always like to have fun at your expense.’
Gleeson is currently preparing to direct his own adaptation of Irish satirist Flann O’Brien’s novel At Swim-Two-Birds, in which he will appear alongside Gabriel Byrne, Colin Farrell, Cillian Murphy and Jonathan Rhys Meyers.
Perrier’s Bounty and Green Zone are out now.