Domnhall Gleeson, a star in his own time
It hasn’t taken Domhnall Gleeson long to establish a reputation as a versatile actor, equally at ease on stage and screen. He talks about working on Richard Curtis’s new time-travel rom-com and a forthcoming role opposite his dad Brendan
Julian Lennon. Paul Dalglish. Cameron Douglas. It’s never easy following in your father’s footsteps when dad happens to be really, really good at his job. How is it, then, that Domhnall Gleeson, son of Brendan, makes it look so damned easy? The sometime star of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and True Grit, has, aged 30, already been exposed to squillions of movie-going punters. In sheer bums-on-seats terms, he’s a huge star.
“But they’re not going for me,” he shrugs. “It doesn’t count. Even if I signed a Harry Potter thing I don’t think you’d get anything for my autograph on Ebay.”
What if Brendan added a Mad Eye Moody signature?
“Maybe two euro. At most. But by the time you add in postage and packaging. You know.”
He’s being modest. But any film-maker who has been lucky enough to direct Domhnall Gleeson will tell you that he’s as whip-smart as he is gifted. A versatile talent, the actor has effortlessly transitioned between Hollywood gigs and home turf. He’s appeared in sci-fi (Dredd), Tolstoy (Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina), alternate history (Never Let Me Go), political drama (Shadow Dancer) and one Irish sex comedy that we know of (Sensation). He has worked with the Coen Brothers, with Charlie Brooker (for the incoming Black Mirror) and with Lenny Abrahamson (on Frank). He has sidestepped with ease between media: he was nominated for a Tony for his work on the Broadway production of Martin McDonagh’s The Lieutenant of Inishmore and he took home an IFTA for playing Bob Geldof in the TV movie When Harvey Met Bob.
He has, as the varied CV attests, no plans to settle down in Tinseltown.
“I like that home is, erm, home,” he says. “I don’t really want to be too far away. And I hate driving. So LA definitely doesn’t suit me.”
The distinctive Gleeson colouring doesn’t help either. We meet in Dublin, at the highest point of the capital’s high summer, not the best time of the year for Ireland’s more pigmentally-challenged community.
“I’m sunblock factor 50,” says the native Dubliner. “The thing is, if it weren’t for my colouring, I might actually enjoy the sun. I might like a sunny holiday. I like the idea of sunshine. And I quite enjoy sunlight when I’m in the shade. But it scares and burns me when I’m out in the open.”
He was not best pleased when writer-director Richard Curtis shot winter scenes – scarf wearing was mandatory – on a Cornish beach in blistering heat for his upcoming movie About Time: “It’s the only time I hated that man,” says Gleeson. “But I hated him quite a bit at that moment. I nearly died.”