“I tend to look for the good in bad people and the bad in good people, to make them human. ‘Cause I don’t think that people generally are that black and white. Maybe in movie-land they can be… but that isn’t necessarily all there is.” –Brendan Gleeson
He is the recipient of three IFTA Awards, two BIFA’s, and a Primetime Emmy Award and has been nominated twice for a BAFTA Award, five times for a Golden Globe Award and once for an Academy Award. In 2020, he was listed at number 18 on The Irish Times list of Ireland’s greatest film actors. He is the father of actors Domhnall Gleeson and Brian Gleeson.
He is best known for his performance as Alastor Moody in the Harry Potter films (2005–2010). He is also known for his supporting roles in films such as Braveheart (1995), Michael Collins (1996), 28 Days Later (2002), Gangs of New York (2002), Cold Mountain (2003), Troy (2004), Suffragette (2015), Paddington 2 (2017), The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018), and The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021). He is also known for his leading roles in films such as The General (1998), In Bruges (2008), The Guard (2011), Calvary (2014), Frankie (2019), and The Banshees of Inisherin (2022) for which he received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
A versatile actor, who decided to become an actor at age 34 after teaching a secondary level for several years, made his debut as a quarryman in The Field (1990). He had several small roles in major Hollywood movies based in Ireland, such as Far and Away (1992) and Into the West (1992). Memorably played historical Irish figure “Michael Collins” in The Treaty (1992). Made his breakthrough in Scottish themed Braveheart (1995), which was largely filmed in Ireland, opposite Mel Gibson. He played Gibson’s right-hand man “Hamish”. Since then, he has appeared in numerous major films such as Mission: Impossible II (2000), Lake Placid (1999), Turbulence (1997). He has made a name for himself taking the titular role in The General (1998), based on the life of Irish criminal “Martin Cahill”, for which he won the Boston Society of Film Critics Award. He appeared in director John Boorman’s film The Tailor of Panama (2001) as well as Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York (2002) and Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001).
Gleeson is a fiddle and mandolin player, with an interest in Irish folklore. He played the fiddle during his role in Cold Mountain, Michael Collins and also The Grand Seduction, and also features on Altan’s 2009 live album.
He has been married to Mary (née Weldon) since 1982. He has four sons; Domhnall, Brían, Fergus and Rúairí. Domhnall and Brían are also actors. Gleeson speaks fluent Irish and is an advocate of the promotion of the Irish language. Gleeson is a fan of the Premier League team Aston Villa, as is his son Domhnall.
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