Brendan Gleeson on Starting His Acting Career Late

Many actors enter the world of show business at a young age, but some, like Brendan Gleeson (Mad-Eye Moody), start their illustrious acting careers much later in life. The Irish actor sat down with Variety to discuss his past work and his current role as Detective Bill Hodges on Stephen King’s new TV series, Mr. Mercedes.

Gleeson said that he began thinking about acting professionally in the summer of 1989, after working at the Tivoli and Olympia theaters in Dublin. His wife, Mary, encouraged him to quit his job teaching English and Irish language, and at the age of 35, Gleeson took his first big role in The Treaty. His portrayal of Irish politician and revolutionary leader Michael Collins won him a Jacobs Award in 1992. From then on, he appeared in countless other films, from Braveheart to Calvary to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

The actor reflected on his years as a teacher at a secondary school, saying that his time with students taught him to distance himself in preparation for dealing with the cutthroat business of Hollywood. Even with a positive outlook, he had his doubts about the long road ahead of him:

I had been warned. I heard all the stories of backstabbing. And all of the networking that I was told was required was definitely not what I wanted to do. My biggest fear in the early days is that I’d spend my life sitting on the couch waiting for the phone call. I was afraid I would get in the position of doing anything for the money, that I’d get taken in by the system, but that crisis of integrity never happened.

Gleeson also discussed his work with playwright John B. Keane and director John Boorman, citing them as major influences on his acting. He called Keane’s play The Field a defiance of the critical opinion of the era, praising the writer’s unique voice. Gleeson also expressed a deep admiration for John Boorman, who directed The General. His role as Martin Cahill earned him a few award nominations, but he says the most valuable part of working on The General was the lessons he learned about film acting from the master director.

With such an incredible career behind him, we know that Gleeson will continue to do amazing work for years to come. For now, make sure to catch the next episode of Mr. Mercedes on Wednesday on the Audience network!

Don’t forget to get your tickets to hang out with the staff of MuggleNet and our very special guests this September 1 at Universal Orlando’s Diagon Alley as we host MuggleNet Live! 2017:  Nineteen Years Later! We’re nearly sold out, so go get your tickets now!


Gayané Kaligian

Gayane has been writing about Harry Potter since the fourth grade, when she wrote her first five-paragraph essay on why Percy Weasley’s buffoonery could have led to Voldemort winning. These days, she’s still talking about the Weasley brothers, but it’s mostly about how overlooked Charlie is. In her free time, you can find her researching stunt choreography and geeking out over theater.