As an aspiring actor, Brendan Gleeson received an invitation from the ‘Royal Shakespeare Company’ to audition, whereupon he spent a couple of years doing stage shows. It was in his mid-thirties that he started auditioning in the UK for short films and began playing different roles.
After a period of struggle, he started working as a theatre actor in noted plays like ‘Wasters’ (1985), ‘Brownbread’ (1987), and ‘Home’(1988). He also wrote and directed two successful plays during this period – ‘The Birdtable’ (1987) and ‘Breaking Up’ (1988).
He started his professional film career in 1989, playing the role of Brendan Dowd in the television film ‘Dear Sarah’. Soon he was given another role in the Irish television film, ‘Hard Shoulder’ (1990), where he played the role of a lorry driver.
His career actually took off with the movie called, ‘The Field’ (1990), directed by Jim Sheridan, where Brendan Gleeson played the character of a quarryman. Moving forward, he received mediocre roles in television films like ‘In the Border Country’ (1991) and ‘Saint Oscar’ (1991).
He played the role of Michael Collins, an Irish Republican, in the historical television film ‘The Treaty’ (1990) and won the Jacob’s Award in 1992.
With an award to his name, he was cast in short films and movies like the ‘The Bargain Shop’, ‘M.A.N.: Matrix Adjusted Normal’, a romantic adventure film ‘Far and Away’, ‘Into the West’, The Snapper’, and ‘The Screenplay’.
He made his big breakthrough in 1995, where he appeared alongside Mel Gibson in the box office hit ‘Braveheart’ where he played the character of Hamish Campbell, William Wallace’s (Mel Gibson) most trusted friend.
After Braveheart’s huge success, Brendan Gleeson started receiving better roles. The same year, as he was cast in the movie called ‘Kidnapped’, an adventure drama film, where he plays the role of Colin Roy Campbell.
He also worked alongside his old friend and colleague, Liam Neeson in the historical biopic ‘Michael Collins’ which was written and directed by Neil Jordan in 1996. He played the supporting role of Liam Tobin, an officer in the Irish Army.
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With multiple successful movies to his name, Brendan Gleeson started getting quality roles in movies like ‘Trojan Eddie’ (1996) and ‘Turbulence’ (1997). His role in ‘I Went Down’ (1997) as Bunny Kelly landed him a nomination for the ‘National Society of Film Critics Award’ for the Best Actor’.
Another memorable role came in 1998, in the movie, ‘The General’, where he played the role of Martin Cahill, an Irish Criminal. He was nominated by the ‘National Society of Film Critics Award for the Best Actor’ and the ‘Satellite Award for the Best Actor’ in Motion Picture Drama.
He played the role of a sheriff in the monster horror film ‘Lake Placid’ (1999). He bagged a supporting role in the biggest movie sequel of all time, ‘Mission: Impossible 2’ (2000), where he played John C. McCloy, CEO of ‘Biocyte’.
The new millennium brought in a flurry of movies for Brendan Gleeson, as he bagged good roles in movies like ‘Harrison’s Flowers’ (2000), ‘Caca Milis’ (2001), ‘A.I. Artificial Intelligence’ (2001), ‘Dark Blue’ (2002). His performance in the films ‘28 Days Later’ (2002) and ‘Gangs of New York’ (2002) earned him critical acclaim.
He played the character of Menelaus, brother of Agamemnon in the movie ‘Troy’ (2004), which was a box office hit all the over the world. The same year he appeared in the psychological thriller ‘The Village’, directed by M. Night Shyamalan.
In 2005, he was given the role of Alastor “Mad Eye” Moody in the super-hit franchise, ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’, and in 2007, he reprised the role in ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’.
The black comedy crime film, ‘In Bruges’ (2008), starring Colin Farrell, Ralph Fiennes, Jeremie Renier, and Brendan Gleeson, and written and directed by Martin McDonagh, received critical acclaim.
He was nominated for multiple awards like ‘IFTA Award’ for the best actor in lead role, ‘BAFTA Award’ for the best actor in supporting role, ‘British Independent Film Award’ for the best actor, the ‘Golden Globe Award’ for the best actor, and the ‘Satellite Award’ for the best actor.
He also gave a voiceover for the animated fantasy film, ‘The Secret of Kells’ (2009) for the character of Abbot Cellach.
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In the same year, he was also nominated for the ‘IFTA Award’ for playing the character of Darren Perrier in the movie ‘Perrier’s Bounty’ and he was again cast as Alastor “Mad Eye” Moody for the next sequel – ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ (2010).
Brendan Gleeson was nominated for the ‘IFTA Award’, in the category for actor in the best supporting role as Dr. Holloran in the Irish drama, ‘Albert Nobbs’(2011).
He acted in various movies from 2011–14, some of them being ‘The Cup’, ‘Safe House’, ‘The Raven’, and ‘The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!’ He added more feathers to his cap by winning three awards in the category of best actor for the Irish Drama Film ‘Calvary’ (2014), directed by John Michael McDonagh, where he played the role of Father James Lavelle.
In 2015, he was awarded the best supporting actor by ‘Independent British Film Award’ for his role as Arthur Steed, in the historical drama film ‘Suffragette,’ directed by Sarah Gavron.
In the recent years, he has acted in notable movies like ‘In the heart of the Sea’ (2015), ‘Assassin’s Creed’ (2016), ‘Hampstead’ (2017), ‘Mr. Mercedes’ (2017), and ‘Paddington’(2017).