Domhnall Gleeson comes from a showbiz family – he’s the son of Brendan and brother to Brian – but has easily eclipsed his family name with a string of exciting projects that show his varied talents. He was once perhaps best known for the role of Bill Weasley in the final two Harry Potter films, but made a real impact in Richard Curtis’ time-travel rom-com About Time – and things have only accelerated from there. In the last four months of 2017 alone he’s in five movies: American Made, mother!, Goodbye Christopher Robin, Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Crash Pad.
Screen Rant sat down with Gleeson for the release of one of those films – drug-running drama American Made – to talk about his high turnover, bossing Tom Cruise around, and why we’ve not seen much of him when promoting Star Wars 8.
You’re everywhere. Like, I’m seeing you here now, but you’re in mother!, American Made and you’ve got Goodbye Christopher Robin coming up. What’s it like being so prolific all of sudden? Well, not all of a sudden – you’ve been around for ages.
Well, I had a period about two years ago, a year and a half ago where I was in quite a few that came out at the same time, and it’s just happenstance; It’s not planned – it ends up that way. I have not been working non-stop, it just so happens the movies come out the same time. It’s great. I’m very proud of all the films, they’re all quite different to each other. And, also, I’ve got a smaller part American Made, I’ve got a smaller part in mother!, and then, Goodbye Christopher Robin I probably feel the pressure a little bit more.
But in this one, it’s a small part but you get to boss around Tom Cruise. What’s that like as an actor to do it on the day, but also just as a person getting to boss him around?
Well, it’s interesting, you know. He’s got to allow himself to be bossed around – and he does because he’s a good actor – but you do wonder “how’s this gonna go”, because for anybody watching… if it was just me and Tom Cruise in a room, it would be so obvious where the balance of power lies. So it’s nice to adopt these characters where he adopts a character who can be bossed around a bit and I adopt a character who can boss him around, and then really just make them smash into each other a little bit, which is what Doug is really good at. So I really, really enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun to film, and think you can feel that when you watch it.
This film is very morally ambiguous.
And you’re kind of a bad guy, but you’re kind of just doing your job. And Tom’s doing bad things but is seen as a good guy. Where do you think, in your personal opinion, the moral line lies in this film? Who is the good guy/bad guy?
I think anybody who imports drugs is probably a scumbag. I think that’s what it comes down to. I think what’s interesting about the film is that we like him [Barry Seal]. We want him to do well, we want him to prosper because he’s got an addictive personality and he loves adrenaline and wants to be around fun and that makes him fun. So you want to be around him and that’s kind of compromises you a little bit, which is interesting, you know? So I really like that. I like that it’s not clear. I like that about the film.
One of my favorite parts of the film is the very final line when you burst in and sort of [go] “got an idea“. How was that on the day? I presume that was always the final line in the script, but how did you deliver that? What was the process of that?
I don’t think it was always in the script. We had talked for so long about what this guy wanted and how what he wanted was nothing to do with politics, it was just to do with self-improv… not self-improvement in a good way – just getting up the ladder. And so on how far those consequences can fall for other people, and how he doesn’t care. And so that last line came about through all those conversations. It would have been Gary [Spinelli], the writer and Doug, and Tom would have been involved as well. That was a fun one, because I didn’t think it would make it, and I’m so it ended up in there.
Well, let’s talk about your accents. Obviously, you’re Irish.
But in Christopher Robin, I presume you’re doing English, and then in this you’re doing American, you do English in Star Wars. What’s your accent approach? Which accent is the easiest to do? How was the American Made accent?
Tough enough, you know. I did sort of prep with June McCullough, who’s an agent in England who I’ve worked with a lot, and then I worked with a guy called Diego Pardo, I think his second name is, who’s a really good dialect coach over there. Just worked as hard as I could for as long as I could, kept the accent up during the day to make sure I didn’t drop out of it, and asked if I got anything wrong that people would let me know immediately. So that was it, you know. I liked the process of it, I think it helps, but I don’t find them easy, but I find it enjoyable when they go right.
Which they tend to.
Yeah, yeah – they’ve worked out OK. I’ve been really lucky with a dialect coaches.
I also just want to ask about one of your other upcoming projects – Star Wars. We’ve not seen much of you in the marketing for that. I think there’s one photo – the Vanity Fair photo of you as Hux – and I wondered do you think there’s a reason you’re being hidden from the marketing. What’s your take on your presence there?
I mean, I don’t think there was much out about me for the first one either. I’m not one of the bigger characters in the film – Adam and Oscar, Daisy and John are obviously up front and then it’s a big line of people ahead of me on the call sheet, so I certainly don’t take it personally. I think they know how to market Star Wars [laughs] so I’ll leave them to it.
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