ESQ&A: Domhnall Gleeson

With Brooklyn, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Revenant, Domhnall Gleeson has a busy winter ahead 

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This month, Domhnall Gleeson stars as Saoirse Ronan’s would-be lover in John Crowley’s film adaptation of the acclaimed Colm Tóibín novel Brooklyn.

It should spark a big winter for the former Harry Potter actor with upcoming roles in both Star Wars: The Force Awakens – as the villainous General Hux – and alongside Tom Hardy and Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant.

Nice work if you can get it, and the Dublin-born 32-year-old most certainly can.

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We’d like to point out that we haven’t said you’re Brendan Gleeson’s son.
You know, I’ve never felt penned in by that. I’m proud of my father and his work, so I’m happy whenever anybody associates us. I feel very lucky.

You went toe-to-toe with him in John Michael McDonagh’s Calvary last year. Was there any on-set rivalry?
It was a huge moment. On most things, I’d follow dad’s lead but I think my job was not to do that. It wasn’t friendly and didn’t feel like father and son – it was nice having a normal Sunday dinner the week after.

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You’ve played Englishmen and Americans  was it a nice change using your own Irish accent for Brooklyn?
That isn’t my own accent! If you were from Ireland, you’d probably notice the difference. It was tougher than American because it was such a tiny adjustment.

Did you impart any acting wisdom to your 21-year-old co-star Saoirse Ronan?
To Oscar-nominee Saoirse Ronan? Imagine: I’d sidle up to give her advice and she’d just take her nomination plaque out of her bag and say, “Maybe tell my friend?”

You’re in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Tell us something nobody else knows about it.
Fuck it, I will…

Did you get to wield a lightsaber?
Oh, I can’t tell you that.

Was it daunting being in the world’s biggest film franchise?
I’d had experience of populating an exceptionally popular world with Harry Potter [Gleeson played Ron Weasley’s older brother, Bill]; you get excited and very nervous, but you have to leave that aside.  

Did you sneak any props home?
I thought about it, but all I could remember was one day leaving the Harry Potter set and noticing this massive tailback on the motorway – all because a wand had gone missing. They’d stopped traffic! You don’t want to be that guy.

Next year, you’re in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s fur-trapper revenge drama The Revenant. Plenty has been said about the tough filming conditions in the Rockies, but was it as bad as reported?
That was the point; Alejandro wanted to push people, himself included. It was fun and difficult so that when we filmed we were in the right places mentally and physically.

You were in the strangest film of 2014, Frank, alongside Michael Fassbender as singer Frank Sidebottom. Did you get to try the papier-mâché head on?
Yes, and my head was too big. I was devastated.

Brooklyn is out now. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is released 18 December and The Revanant is released 16 January 

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