Dublin-born and based, Brendan Gleeson is, like many of the finest character actors, many things to many people. To some he is forevermore Professor “Mad-Eye” Moody from the Harry Potter films. Others will recall his standout turn opposite Mel Gibson in Braveheart, or the wickedly under-appreciated In Bruges, opposite a headstrong Colin Farrell. Others still might think he looks familiar from Robert Zemeckis’ motion-capture Beowulf. Most recently, Gleeson won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie for his portrayal of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in HBO’s Into the Storm. In real life, of course, Gleeson is all of these characters, and still so much more — a voluble, friendly and exceedingly insightful and intelligent guy.
In his latest film, writer-director John Michael McDonagh’s dryly comedic mismatched-buddy-cop dramedy The Guard, Gleeson plays Gerry Boyle, a longtime police sergeant in Ireland’s rural Galway who yawningly meets only the basest professional obligations, and lives by his own loose moral code. Friction ensues when an American FBI agent, Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle), arrives to oversee the investigation into an international drug trafficking operation that may be planning on using Galway as a port. I had a chance recently to chat one-on-one with Gleeson, about both his prickly and provocative character in The Guard and his desire to take a great American road trip. The conversation is excerpted over at ShockYa.