Also Credited As:Brendan Mark Gleeson
About Brendan Gleeson
Born March 29, 1955 in Dublin, Ireland, Gleeson took to drama at an early age, and participated regularly in school productions. The works of Irish playwrights held particular interest to him, so as a high schooler, he tackled one of the most challenging roles in that country's canon: "Waiting for Godot" by Samuel Beckett. Upon graduation, he performed with the Dublin Shakespeare Festival while earning his keep as an office worker at a health board. On the advice of a director at the Dublin Festival, he auditioned for and was accepted into the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, from which he graduated with honors. Gleeson then returned to Dublin, where he supported himself as a teacher while continuing to perform in local theater. After an opportunity to audition for the Royal Shakespeare Company presented itself, he returned to England to spend a few seasons with the acclaimed troupe.
The exposure and acclaim gave Gleeson the impetus to begin auditioning for films and television, and by 1989, he was landing small roles in UK television and features like Neil Jordan's "The Field," which marked his motion picture debut. He earned positive reviews for his performance as Irish revolutionary leader Michael Collins in "The Treaty" (ITV, 1991), and by the following year, was making his first appearance in an American feature, the Ron Howard epic "Far and Away" (1992). But it was Mel Gibson's bloody epic "Braveheart" that gave Gleeson his widest exposure to international audiences; as Hamish Campbell, loyal if brutish lieutenant to Gibson's William Wallace, Gleeson became a go-to for rough-hewn characters that let their fists do the talking in films like "I Went Down" (1997) and "The Butcher Boy" (1998).
Gleeson's true range got a stellar showcase in John Boorman's drama "The General" (1998), which recounted the life and celebrity of Irish master criminal Martin Cahill. His larger than life performance as the roguish thief, whose daring robberies and open flaunting of the law made him something of a folk hero in Dublin during the 1970s and 1980s, earned him numerous international awards, including Best Actor from the London and Irish Film Critics associations. The exposure also allowed him to make the jump to more significant roles in Hollywood projects, which began with John Woo's mega-hit "Mission: Impossible II" (2000), starring as the nefarious head of a biochemical company which plans to develop a deadly virus.
By the launch of the new millennium, Gleeson was dividing his time between major studio efforts like Steven Spielberg's "A.I.: Artificial Intelligence" (2001) and Martin Scorsese's "Gangs of New York" (2002) with UK films like Boorman's "The Tailor of Panama" (2001) and Danny Boyle's "28 Days Later" (2001), as well as smaller independent features like "Wild About Harry" (2000) and "Harrison's Flowers" (2000). In all cases, Gleeson's trademark attributes - intense focus and emotional drive, as well as an essential everyman quality, no matter what the social standing of the role - were on full display. In "Gangs," his former street fighter abandons his knife for the role of sheriff in 19th century New York, while his working class father in "28 Days" offers a glimpse of structure and humanity to a post-apocalyptic London until a mutant virus turns him into a ravenous killer. Gleeson's talent allowed him to tackle such intensely physical roles as well as quieter turns, like an out-of-control TV chef who undergoes a personality change after losing his memory in "Wild about Harry."
The year 2003 saw Gleeson working extensively in large-scale productions like "Cold Mountain" (2003) and Wolfgang Petersen's "Troy" (2004), for which he played the prideful King Menelaus, who launches the Trojan War after his wife, Helen, is stolen by Orlando Bloom's Paris. Supporting turns in M. Night Shyamalan's disappointing "The Village" (2004) and the expensive flop "Kingdom of Heaven" (2005) preceded Gleeson's scaling back to more independent projects like "Breakfast on Pluto" (2005), which found him taking transgender orphan Cillian Murphy under his wing. He also reunited with John Boorman for "The Tiger's Tail" (2006), a dark fantasy drama about a wealthy developer (Gleeson) whose underhanded deals have not only left him on the brink of financial disaster, but plagued by an identical and homicidal twin.
Gleeson did not stray from big-budget projects for long. In 2005, he was cast as Defense Against the Dark Arts professor Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody - so named for his glaring false eye - in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," which earned him a Best Supporting Actor nomination from the London Film Critics Circle. He returned to the role in two sequels: 2007's "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" and "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1" (2010). He also lent his voice and form to Wiglaf, trusted friend to "Beowulf" (2007) in Robert Zemeckis' CGI-animated adventure.
In 2008, Gleeson was cast as a kind-hearted hit man in the black comedy "In Bruges." As veteran killer Ken, Gleeson showed his comic skills as well as enormous warmth to his partner, the hapless Ray (Colin Farrell), whom Ken is ordered to but declines to murder after the younger man is devastated by the accidental murder of a child. The little-seen comedy found itself on the receiving end of numerous awards from the Golden Globes at the end of 2008, with a Best Supporting Actor nod going to Gleeson himself. The actor was further honored with nominations from the British Independent Film Awards and the Satellite Awards for his stellar work. Meanwhile, he delivered a sterling performance as Winston Churchill in the historical drama, "Into the Storm" (HBO, 2009), which earned the actor an Emmy win for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie. He was poised for more award glory when he was nominated for a Golden Globe later that year. After voicing Abbot Cellach in the animated "The Secret of Kells" (2009), Gleeson was a local loan shark who seeks revenge on three fugitives after the accidental death one of his gang members in "Perrier's Bounty" (2009). He barely registered when reprising "Mad Eye" Moody for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 1" (2010), but co-starred opposite Matt Damon and Amy Ryan in Paul Greengrass' Iraq War thriller "Green Zone" (2010). Gleeson found himself back in awards contention when he played an unorthodox cop opposite Don Cheadle's straight-laced FBI agent in the Irish-made black comedy "The Guard" (2011), which earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor - Comedy or Musical.
|Mary Gleeson. Married c. 1982|
|Brian Gleeson. Born in 1987; mother, Mary Gleeson; co-starred with father in "The Tiger's Tail" (2006)|
|Domhnall Gleeson. Born in 1983; mother, Mary Gleeson; co-starred with father in "Studs" (2006)|
|Fergus Gleeson. Mother, Mary Gleeson|
|Rory Gleeson. Mother, Mary Gleeson|
|University College, Dublin|
|Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London , England|
|Voiced character of The Pirate with Gout for animated adventure "The Pirates! Band of Misfits"|
|Cast opposite John Cusack in mystery thriller "The Raven"|
|Appeared in the action drama "Safe House" opposite Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds|
|Cast alongside Glenn Close, Mia Wasikowska, and Janet McTeer in "Albert Nobbs"|
|Played an unorthodox Irish policeman with a confrontational personality opposite Don Cheadle in the crime comedy "The Guard"|
|Reprised role of 'Mad Eye' Moody in David Yates directed "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1"|
|Portrayed British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the HBO movie "Into the Storm"; earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a TV movie|
|Nominated for the 2008 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy ("In Bruges")|
|Co-starred with Colin Farrell as Irish contract killers in "In Bruges"|
|Co-starred in Robert Zemeckis' "Beowulf," which was filmed using a special technique of motion capture|
|Reprised role of Mad-Eye Moody for "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"|
|Portrayed Alastor 'MadEye' Mood in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," adapted from the fourth book in the fantasy series by J.K. Rowling and directed by Mike Newell|
|Played a hard-drinking Irish emigrant opposite Cillian Murphy in Neil Jordan's "Breakfast on Pluto"|
|Cast opposite Orlando Bloom in Ridley Scott's "Kingdom of Heaven"|
|Starred in M. Night Shyamalan's "The Village"|
|Cast as Spartan king Menelaus in director Wolfgang Petersen's epic "Troy"|
|Cast in director Anthony Minghella's film adaptation of the novel "Cold Mountain"|
|Appeared in director Danny Boyle's post-modern zombie thriller "28 Days Later"|
|Played a corrupt police official in the Los Angeles cop drama "Dark Blue"|
|Cast in Martin Scorsese's "Gangs of New York"|
|Co-starred in "A.I. Artificial Intelligence," helmed by Steven Spielberg|
|Re-teamed with Boorman to play a drunken revolutionary in "The Tailor of Panama"|
|Co-starred with Brian Cox in "Salt Water"; adapted from McPherson's play "This Lime Tree Bower"|
|Landed featured role in "Mission: Impossible II," starring Tom Cruise|
|Played title role of Irish criminal Martin Cahill in John Boorman's "The General"|
|Portrayed a dimwitted, low-level criminal in "I Went Down"; directed by Paddy Breathnach and scripted by Conor McPherson|
|Acted in the TNT adaptation of "Kidnapped"|
|Played the sidekick to Mel Gibson's William Wallace in "Braveheart"|
|Made feature acting debut in Jim Sheridan's "The Field"|
|Worked as a schoolteacher for nearly ten years while acting in semi-professional and professional productions|