Having won an IFTA award and a Shooting Star award there is no stopping the rise and rise of Irish actor Domhnall Gleeson….
It’ll be a busy month for Domhnall Gleeson, son of Ireland’s own Brendan G. The Dublin born actor is probably best known to audiences as the eldest Wesley boy in the Harry Potter series but that’s all about to change. Not only did the 27-year old win big at this year’s Irish Film and Television Awards, but he also has two big movies in cinemas, an upcoming short in the Jameson International Film Festival and he was selected as one of the 2011 Berlin International Film Festival’s Shooting Stars.
He was one of ten promising young actors chosen by a high-profile jury of film industry professionals as the SHOOTING STARS of 2011, which concluded a whirlwind weekend of events at the Berlin International Film Festival with photo-sessions, casting director meetings, press conference, a glittering award ceremony and gala reception.
On Monday night jury member Heike Makatsch (German Shooting Star 2001) and renowned British actor Ralph Fiennes welcomed the ten actors onto the Berlinale Palast stage to receive the SHOOTING STARS Award – donated by Studio Babelsberg, to celebrate their recent achievements. Ian Finnerty caught up with the actor to discuss Harry Potter, the Coen Brothers, award season and the EPIC (his words) reworking of Judge Dredd.
Q: You’re one of ten actors selected the 2011 Berlin International Film Festival’s Shooting Stars, how did you feel when you heard the news? Have you seen the work of your fellow Shooting Stars?
A. It was just such a great honour to be selected and just looking at the names of some of the other actors selected – like Andrea Riseborough, who I was fortunate enough to work with on Never Let Me Go, I was very proud. I’m looking forward to getting to Berlin to watch some of the other pieces selected.
Q. You’re 27, a graduate from DIT, a very similar background to myself (interviewer Ian Finnerty), how have you gone from Dublin college graduate to working with the likes of the Coen Brothers and Jeff Bridges!?
A. [Laughs] I’ve just been incredibly lucky – I’ve been out of college five years. I started out looking to write and direct and the acting thing just seems to happen around that.
Q. Do you still think of yourself as an writer/director more than an actor?
A. It’s been six years since I finished up in college so at this stage, I think both. Acting was something I originally did to keep busy in-between writing and directing. Like with Potter I had taken that on around the same time I was about to start working on Noreen, in the end it was a challenge to get them both done but I can’t complain about having too much work!
Q. You mentioned the Potter, you joined the series for the final two films, what was it like to come in at the end?
A. It was hectic; I was shooting Norreen at the same time, running back and forth between the two, but they were all very welcoming. I mean I know it’s a cliche to say but it was very much a family set; these guys have been working together for over ten years now and it was very close, warm atmosphere.
Q. And Norreen – it’s been doing the festival for the last six months, what has the reception been?
A. Yeh it’s been doing the circuit since summer and it has gone very well. I’ve got excellent producers behind it, really pushing it and the reception has been very good. We won at Galway and the screening at Palm Springs was a tremendous hit. It’s going to be shown in Dublin for the Jameson Festival, which I’m very happy about.
Q: How did you get your dad involved?
A. I didn’t actively seek him out for it. We were in the process of looking for funding and I gave him a copy of the script for his notes. He read it, liked it and wanted to get involved.
Q: You’re playing Moon in the current Coen Brother’s film True Grit, what was it like to work with the brothers?
A: I’ve always loved their work so I obviously I had a lot of expectations and every one was met – there’s just so special. It was an intense film but it was great working with the likes of Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld.
Q: You’ve got another film out this month too – an adaptation of a Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel?
Yeah – Never Let Me Go with Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan. There’s playing these sheltered teens just finishing school and entering the real world. I’m playing an older kid, Rodney, who is sort of wise to the world in comparison.
Q: True Grit has so many Oscar nominations and Never Let Me Go was such a beloved novel – did it surprise you that the latter was acknowledged by the Academy?
A: It did! I think the script really spoke to me because it is such a beautifully written story. I think part of the problem is how the film was represented in the media – some people might have thought it was a bit of a downer – organ harvesting etc… but really it’s about celebrating life and what time you have here.
Q. You’re Never Let Me Go co-star Andrew Garfield is playing the new Spider-Man – have you any interest in going down the superhero path?
A. Laughs – it’s time for ginger superhero? I think Andrew is being very relaxed but smart about it. He didn’t actively seek out to be cast as a big Hollywood type, but people just saw what a talent he is and it worked out for him. Personally if I continued to get work like I’ve received in the last year, I’d be extremely happy.
Q: Finally you’re working with Karl Urban on remake of Judge Dredd – what can you tell us?
A: It’s early days yet! I can’t really say to much – it’s from the same producers as Never Let Me Go. I can say that it’s going to be EPIC and in 3D but with a very moral aspect to the story. If it works out as they’ve described, it’s going to be very big.
NEVER LET ME GO and TRUE GRIT are in Irish cinemas now.