Domhnall Gleeson

Domhnall Gleeson avoids comparisons with his father, the veteran Irish actor Brendan Gleeson. For one thing, the older Gleeson didn’t start acting until he was 34, by which time he had put on a few pounds and was frequently cast as the plucky guy trading on his acerbic wit rather than on his looks. Thirty-year-old Domhnall is a different proposition altogether: tall, slender, with orange hair and a face drawn out of angled lines. The Dublin native studied media arts in college and was headed for a career as a writer and director until he fell in love with a script by playwright Martin McDonagh and decided to audition for the play The Lieutenant of Inishmore. “It was when I was on stage that I realized that acting could be such a brilliant job,” Gleeson says. Parts in three 2010 films, True Grit, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, and Never Let Me Go, introduced him to audiences. Now, though, Gleeson finds himself front and center in a handful of new projects. In the upcoming rom-com About Time—which is rumored to be Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) and Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) scribe Richard Curtis’s last quirky love story before retirement—Gleeson stars alongside Rachel McAdams as a lovelorn time traveler who, in the tradition of Curtis’s long line of self-deprecating charmers, is prone to the kind of goofy mistakes that potentially cause romantic ruin. Gleeson sees a bit of himself in the role. “I know I can tie myself in knots,” he admits. He gets to play things a little bit smoother alongside Michael Fassbender and Maggie Gyllenhaal in director Lenny Abrahamson’s forthcoming music odyssey Frank as a fledgling musician who joins an eccentric pop band. He also just wrapped the sci-fi indie Ex Machina, which is The Beach novelist Alex Garland’s first foray into directing, and this fall he is scheduled to begin shooting the Angelina Jolie-directed biopic of World War II hero Louis Zamperini, Unbroken. Even with his busy acting schedule, Gleeson couldn’t resist freeing up a day to appear in John Michael McDonagh’s upcoming drama, Calvary. It allowed him to spend some screen time opposite his dad. “I’ve acted with him before, but this time I came with more experience, so I didn’t walk in with my tail between my legs,” Gleeson recalls. “I was willing to take him on and I wasn’t going to crumble. For me, it was a big day.”