Domhnall Gleeson on Making People Laugh and the Privilege of Being in “Harry Potter”

Domhnall Gleeson (Bill Weasley) has played a wide variety of roles during his career, from small parts in short films to his latest venture, Thomas McGregor in Peter Rabbit. In interviews with the Independent and Radio Times, Gleeson talked about his desire to explore more comedic roles and the privilege of being in Harry Potter.

Gleeson’s varied career has led some to label him as a “one for them and one for me” actor, something that he denied in an interview with the Independent. The phrase suggests that an actor only takes on parts in big-budget films to fund their more personal, but often less profitable, roles. Gleeson rebuffed this claim, highlighting his portrayal of Bill Weasley in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 and Part 2 as an example of his enjoyment from being a part of a franchise:

Harry Potter was not a compromise. I get to be in Harry Potter! That’s a privilege. That’s not one for them; that’s also one for me.

He continued in his defense of big-budget movies by revealing that he was just as excited to work on Peter Rabbit as some of his other acting roles. This was because Peter Rabbit not only allowed Gleeson to explore more physical comedy but was also a chance “to make kids laugh.” His appreciation for fun, family adventures appeared again when talking about another animal fronted-movie starring his father, Brendan Gleeson (Mad-Eye Moody).

When I found out my dad was doing Paddington, I was so excited – so jealous!

Comedy seems to be at the forefront of Gleeson’s mind at the moment. In a separate interview with the Radio Times, he talked further about his desire to be in a movie that is meant to make the audience laugh:

I’ve had a real brilliant time of it in terms of playing different stuff in different sorts of movies. And [Peter Rabbit] was another thing [that] was so different. And I thought, I’d kill to be in something where the only purpose is to make kids laugh.

Peter Rabbit isn’t the only role in which Gleeson has been flexing his comedy muscles. Last year, he returned to a galaxy far, far away as General Hux, a villain whose characterization has developed from evil to more comic relief.

The thing is, I wasn’t expecting that to be the way when I went into VIII, at all. It really surprised me. And I’d say rather than played for laughs, it was written for laughs. So we did it with an eye on the comic elements of it. […] So I’m hoping that if I’m in the next one I’ll get to do [some more comedy].

We hope to see Gleeson return to the big screen as General Hux, and look forward to seeing him in more comedic roles in the future. For readers who can’t wait that long, you can catch Gleeson in Peter Rabbit this spring and watch the trailer below.


Lucy O'Shea

I was given a copy of Philosopher's Stone in 2001, and instantly, I was hooked. Since then, my passion for Potter has been equaled only by my passion for fair access to education (and watching motorsport). A spell I wish could exist in the Muggle world is the summoning charm because this Hufflepuff is not a "particularly good finder"!