Domhnall Gleeson Interview

Shooting Star award at the Berlin Film Festival

Beatrice Ní Bhroin catches up with Domhnall Gleeson in Berlin where he was recently singled out for a Shooting Star award.

Ireland’s outstanding young star Domhnall Gleeson scooped two major awards recently and is being hailed as one of Europe’s biggest emerging talents. However, despite his burgeoning fame the pragmatic Harry Potter star says he hopes to stay in Ireland and help build the film industry here.

The 27-year-old son of film legend Brendan Gleeson was singled out for a Shooting Star award at the Berlin Film Festival (10–20 February 2011 as well as receiving an IFTA Rising Star award. The Shooting Stars are annually selected as Europe’s most promising young actors.


In the same week Domhnall was also honoured at the IFTAs with the Actor in a Lead Television Role Award for When Harvey Met Bob, while his father Brendan and brother Brian were collectively nominated for five awards. Gleeson stars in the Coen brothers’ latest film, True Grit, which opened the Berlin festival, but despite his Hollywood success he says he is in no rush to leave his home in Ireland.

The young star confessed this week that he has considered moving to New York or LA to further his career but feels he has too many ties to Ireland right now to make the leap. ‘I think I’ll try and live in Dublin for as long as it suits me but you never know,’ he explained. ‘I thought about moving to London a while ago but I’ve got reasons to be in Ireland so I’ll stay here. I can’t drive so I’m not going to LA. I’m going to go to New York in March possibly – go out to try and get more work and meet more people, it’s a very expensive place to hang out though.’

While Gleeson was enjoying the limelight in Berlin his father’s latest film, The Guard, which sees Brendan playing an acid-taking renegade Galway garda, received rave reviews from film fans. Domhnall explained that while his father had played a huge part in helping his career to take off he is now completely independent and the pair hadn’t even found time to meet up while they were in Berlin. ‘I’ve been here for four days and I haven’t seen my father, we’ve just both been busy with work! I don’t think there’s anymore pressure because my dads and actor but its great to have someone to ask for advice. My brothers acting too, in fact he was acting long before me he as always knew he wanted to act and he’s really good.’

Gleeson broke into Hollywood with his role as Bill Weasley in Harry Potter but now hopes to move onto more serious roles and eventually directing films. ‘Harry Potter was a lot of fun but it was a long time too and that’s not a complaint,’ he explained. ‘I was working thank Christ. It was intense because all my dialogue stuff happened in the first two weeks then I had another year of standing in the background holding a wand. There was a lot of back and forth a lot of standing around and laughing so that was fun. They were also kind enough to let me go away and do some other movies which was a real relief so I got lucky with that in a big way and you got a wand, that’s brilliant fun!

Gleeson explained that while big Hollywood films are fun and help to pay the bills he longs to return to theatre and Irish films. ‘I’ve had a good year but I think generally there is actually quite a lot happening in Ireland on the film front, theatre has suffered tremendously. I want to do theatre I want to get back to doing theatre. There’s not as much happening but what is happening is of a really high quality.’

He was also keen to promote Irish film Sensation described as being ‘a refreshing and rare film, a disarmingly subtle sex comedy that’s funny, smart and touching.’ Directed by Tom Hall of Bachelors Walk fame, Domhnall says ‘I want to promote it because it’s an amazing film, I get to play a farmer who’s father dies and he decides to hire a prostitute.’

Domhnall is due to start filming Dredd a Pete Travis (Endgame, Vantage Point, Omagh) film based on graphic novel Judge Dredd and due for release December 2011.


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