On stage with Brendan Gleeson

Line up for the Actors Forum at the Gate Theatre
Line up for the Actors Forum at the Gate Theatre

He’s played everything from Professor Alastor 'Mad¬Eye' Moody in Harry Potter, a warrior in Mel Gibson’s Braveheart and Seargant Gerry Boyle in surprise box office success The Guard. He’s even played a Smurf

This time, though, our Malahide-boy Brendan Gleeson is putting his years of experience to good use and joining Charles Dance, Michael Gambon, Jeremy Irons and Downton Abbey’s Penelope Wilton at The World Actors Forum at The Gate Theatre.

The actors will be seated opposite a very inquisitive John Boorman – well known for directing classics such as Deliverance and Excalibur, the latter of which was filmed in County Wicklow (home to the academy award-winner, Daniel Day Lewis). The pair also joined forces with Kim Cattrall in The Tiger’s Tail.

In front of a captivated Gate Theatre audience, Gleeson is going to tell all about his career, and about life growing up in Dublin as an actor. To all intents and purposes, he will be on stage without a script. He will ad-lib an entire talk and his audience will be actors from as far afield as Russia, Belarus, the Middle East and the US.

So, if Brendan Gleeson's life was a movie script, what would it tell us?

Dublin born and bred

Back in March 29, 1955, a little boy entered the Gleeson household – he had a rogueish charm and, as a youngster, he yearned to be an actor. But these were days when a regular bread and butter income was what was called for, so he spent a decade as a teacher in St Joseph's Secondary school in Fairview, Dublin, before reaching for his dreams.

Gleeson’s big screen debut came in The Field alongside his fellow Harry Potter actor and Irish acting institution, Richard Harris. Filmed in the exquisitely beautiful West of Ireland, largely in a Connemara town called Leenane, this was Gleeson’s break. From now on, there was no stopping him. His characters stole scenes from an irrepressible Mel Gibson in Braveheart (again on his home turf as many of Braveheart's scenes featured counties Meath, Kildare and the Garden of Ireland, Wicklow), charmed us as a crude but principled Galway policeman and beautifully mixed father figure with assassin for In Bruges.

The Irish Gerard Depardieu?

When he first heard this comparison, Gleeson took it as a compliment when asked about it in interview with The UK’s Guardian newspaper: “When that first came up I was hugely flattered. How could you not be? I can understand why people want to look at nice faces on film, but cinema has got to embrace humanity in all different shapes and forms. You can't just choose nice teeth and a beautiful figure.”

Yet Gleeson is not only attracted to the big screen. A thespian at heart, the Dubliner has made waves around the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford Upon Avon and embodied masterfully Samuel Beckett’s work on Irish stages.

Ireland and the inaugural World Actors Forum

If you were in the audience at the World Actors Forum – what would you like to ask? Maybe you’d like to pop a few questions to the other guests? Or perhaps just ask yourself why Ireland was chosen for this inaugural event. The short answer is that storytelling is in our DNA.

Telling those stories on film, TV or stage is just a natural progression.

Just ask Brendan Gleeson. He knows...

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