Childhood & Early Life
Born Aidan Murphy on April 24, 1968, in Drumcondra, Dublin, Ireland, Gillen is the son of a nurse mother and an architect father. He has three siblings, actress Fionnuala Murphy, teacher Patricia Murphy, and playwright John Paul Murphy.
Gillen attended St. Vincent's C.B.S. in Glasnevin. His association with the Dublin Youth Theatre began when he was a teenager. He performed as Nick Bottom in their production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, which was staged at the Project Arts Centre in Dublin. He later relocated to London.
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In the early days of his career, Aidan Gillen used his birth name as his stage name. He started using his mother’s maiden name after he found out that there was already an actor named Aidan Murphy listed in the Actors’ Guild.
Gillen has been active on stage in Ireland since the early 1980s. In 1981, he appeared in Dublin Youth Theatre’s ‘The Do-It-Yourself Frankenstein Outfit’.
His first on-screen work was in RTÉ’s children’s television series ‘Wanderly Wagon’. In 1987, he debuted on the big screen in Jack Clayton's directorial venture ‘The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne’.
Gillen played various small roles in projects like ‘The Courier’, ‘The Play on One’, ‘Screenplay’, ‘Gold in the Streets’, and ‘Buddy Boy’ before playing Stuart Alan Jones in the 1999 British television series ‘Queer as Folk’ and its 2000 sequel. For his performance, he was nominated for the British Academy Television Award for Best Actor.
In 2004, he garnered a Tony nomination for his outing as Mick in the Broadway production of ‘The Caretaker’, which was performed at Roundabout Theatre. He has also made appearances in the productions of ‘Juno and the Paycock’ (1989), ‘The Tempest’ (2000), and ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ (2007).
In HBO’s critically acclaimed drama series ‘The Wire’, Gillen essayed the role of politician Thomas J. "Tommy" Carcetti in 35 episodes between 2004 and 2008. He appeared as DI John Bloom in the ITV police procedural drama series ‘Identity’ in 2010. In 2013, he portrayed the grieving widower Everett Newcombe in the BBC One series ‘Mayday’.
From 2010 to 2013, he played "John Boy" Power in the RTÉ series ‘Love/Hate’, a performance that earned him an Irish Film and Television Award for Actor in a Lead Role Television in 2012.
He was cast as the titular character in the miniseries ‘Charlie’, which aired on RTÉ in 2015. In 2016, he lent his voice to Paul Serene in the video game ‘Quantum Break’. He later portrayed the character in the live-action TV series of the same name.
In four episodes of BBC’s ‘Peaky Blinders’ (2017), Gillen was cast as the Romany gipsy hitman-for-hire Aberama Gold. At present, he is portraying the real-life 20th-century astronomer and ufologist Dr. J. Allen Hynek in History Channel’s period drama ‘Project Blue Book’.
In 2003, he played the main antagonist Lord Nelson Rathbone in Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson-starrer ‘Shanghai Knights’, which is the sequel to the 2000 action comedy ‘Shanghai Noon’.
He played CIA operative Bill Wilson in the DC superhero film ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ (2012). In the original script, his character was referred to simply as “CIA”. It is in the novelization of the film that his name has been mentioned.
In ‘Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials’ (2015) and ‘Maze Runner: The Death Cure’ (2018), he portrayed primary antagonist A.D. Janson. Gillen starred as former music manager John Reid in the Oscar-winning biopic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ (2018). He is set to star in the upcoming drama films ‘Rose Plays Julie’ and ‘James and Lucia’.
Family & Personal Life
Aidan Gillen exchanged wedding vows with Olivia O'Flanagan on July 7, 2001. Their daughter, Berry, was born in 1997. In 2000, O'Flanagan gave birth to their son, Joe. The couple parted ways in 2014. As of 2011, he had been living in Kerry, Ireland.