Domhnall Gleeson: From Bill Weasley to Doctor Faraday in New Film “The Little Stranger”
Domhnall Gleeson is going places; he has been ever since he starred in Harry Potter as Bill Weasley, along with his father, Brendan Gleeson, who played Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody. He is nothing if not diverse. Not only has he had the pleasure of treading the grounds of the wizarding world, but he has also traveled through space for Star Wars and explored the countryside with bushy-tailed animals for Goodbye Christopher Robin and Peter Rabbit. Now, he is about to embark on a brand-new, exciting, and well, creepy adventure for the adaptation of author Sarah Waters’ thriller, The Little Stranger.
The Little Stranger is Domhnall’s second time working with director Lenny Abrahamson. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Domhnall admitted that he asked Lenny if he could play the character of Faraday (a troubled doctor trying to move beyond the class he was born into) since he had never played such a dark character before.
He’s got a lot of anger and bitterness bottled up, and yet he’s a good man. Lenny gave me this phrase early on and I wrote it on the front of my script: ‘If you’re carrying something explosive, you walk carefully.’ He’s maneuvering himself through his life carefully because he’s aware that there’s something inside of him.
On growing up with a parent who is an accomplished actor, Domhnall admits that he has always understood that he had a lot to learn from his father.
For my dad, there was no suggestion acting was a path anyone would take in the family, and he really struck out on his own. The industry was very small in Ireland and he went for it, which takes a bravery I can’t even imagine. Being around him…it makes me nervous, because you want to impress him. But it’s not a competitive thing.
Domhnall’s first commercial breakthrough was the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows films and he admits that he was a massive fan of the franchise long before he got to play a part in it. He recalls how excited he was when his father was asked to play Mad-Eye and told him, “Listen, if one of the other brothers’ parts comes up, you need to get me in for an audition.” Needless to say, his wish came true not long after, and it was everything he hoped it would be.
I met some amazing people on that set. I loved how they all handled themselves; they were all good, generous people—that thing about art requiring suffering was just kind of dispelled. Then there was about a year between shooting and the movie’s release where I was going into meetings and people didn’t know I only had two lines in Harry Potter, so I probably got auditions for things that I may not have otherwise.
Domhnall admits that he intentionally picks different parts to keep things interesting, saying that the reason for doing this is because he does not want to repeat himself too often.
I’ve just always tried much harder for the stuff that excited me, so there was a higher chance I would get it. Anna Karenina terrified me, so I worked my ass off for the audition.
Speaking of keeping things interesting, Domhnall admits that Harry Potter was the best possible training for his role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. He confesses to being worried about the fan reaction but realized that he couldn’t control it and simply had to focus on doing the best job he possibly could.
Looking at Domhnall’s track record, it would be safe to say that his goal to keep things interesting has certainly been met so far. From being the coolest older Weasley brother in Harry Potter to being the troubled doctor in The Little Stranger, his range of work has been anything but ordinary.
The Little Stranger opens Friday, August 24. You can read the rest of Domhnall’s interview with Entertainment Weekly here and watch clips from the film below.