Domhnall Gleeson

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Domhnall Gleeson
Domhnall Gleeson by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Gleeson at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con
Born (1983-05-12) 12 May 1983 (age 39)
Dublin, Ireland
  • Actor
  • director
  • screenwriter
Years active2001–present
RelativesBrian Gleeson (brother)

Domhnall Gleeson (/ˈdnəl/; born 12 May 1983) is an Irish actor, director and screenwriter. He is the son of actor Brendan Gleeson, with whom he has appeared in a number of films and theatre projects. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Media Arts from Dublin Institute of Technology.

During the early stages of his career, Gleeson directed and wrote several short films, garnered a Tony Award nomination in 2006 for his role in the Broadway production The Lieutenant of Inishmore, and had a supporting role in Never Let Me Go. He became known to a wider audience for his portrayal of Bill Weasley in the Harry Potter film series (2001–2011), along with his father Brendan Gleeson, who played Alastor Moody; Konstantin Levin in Anna Karenina (2012); Tim Lake in About Time (2013); and Russell Allen Phillips in the fact-based war drama Unbroken (2014). Gleeson has won three IFTA Awards for his performances in When Harvey Met Bob (2010), Anna Karenina (2012), and Frank (2014).

In 2015, Gleeson received widespread recognition and praise for his performances in several Academy Award-nominated films: Caleb Smith in Ex Machina, Jim Farrell in Brooklyn, and Captain Andrew Henry in The Revenant. In 2017, he appeared in Mother! alongside his brother Brian Gleeson, co-starred in American Made, and portrayed A. A. Milne in Goodbye Christopher Robin. In 2018, he starred in a live-action adaptation of Peter Rabbit. From 2015 to 2019, Gleeson appeared as General Armitage Hux in the Star Wars sequel trilogy. In 2020, he had a main role in the HBO black comedy series Run. The same year, he was listed at number 21 on The Irish Times list of Ireland's greatest film actors.[1]

Early life[edit]

Gleeson was born the eldest of four boys in Dublin, Ireland.[2] He was raised in Malahide, County Dublin, the eldest son of Mary (née Weldon) and actor Brendan Gleeson.[3] He has three brothers: Fergus, Brian (also an actor), and Rory.[4] He attended Malahide Community School, where he performed in school productions of Grease and King Lear.[5] Gleeson later graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Media Arts from the Dublin Institute of Technology.[4]


2001–2009: Theatre and early recognition[edit]

After graduating, Gleeson began directing and writing for both film and stage. He first appeared in the British television miniseries Rebel Heart in 2001 with James D'Arcy and Paloma Baeza.[6] Gleeson made his film debut in Martin McDonagh's short film Six Shooter in 2004, which starred his father. The film won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film.[7] He was featured in a small role in the 2005 horror comedy Boy Eats Girl.[6] In 2006, Gleeson starred in the feature film Studs, with his father appearing alongside him.[6] He was among the main cast members of RTÉ comedy television series The Last Furlong in 2005.[6] Gleeson appeared on the Broadway theatre show The Lieutenant of Inishmore at age twenty-three, receiving a Tony Award nomination for his role as the dim-witted Davey.[7][8] In late 2007, Gleeson played Herbert Pocket in the Hugh Leonard adaptation of Charles Dickens's Great Expectations at the Gate Theatre in Dublin.[9] The role was described as being "wittily played" by Irish Independent critic Bruce Arnold.[10] Earlier that year he had a role as Bobby in the David Mamet play American Buffalo, also at the Gate Theatre.[11][12]

In 2008, Gleeson starred in the one-off RTÉ comedy sketch show Your Bad Self, which was broadcast on 26 December that year and later developed into a series in 2010.[6][7] In March 2009, it was confirmed that he had been cast as Bill Weasley in the film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.[13][14] His father, Brendan, plays Alastor Moody in the series.[13][14] Gleeson had initially been reluctant to act alongside his father in the same film but later changed his mind.[15] In 2006, he said of his acting: "I'd been very certain about not wanting to do the acting thing because of my father. I thought I'd always have the father-son thing of 'He got you the role'."[14] The 2009 HBO television film A Dog Year starring Jeff Bridges, featured Gleeson as handyman Anthony Armstrong.[16] Also that year, in the film Sensation, Gleeson played the role of a young farmer whose "soulless encounter" with a call-girl "develops into a bittersweet love story".[17][18]

2010–2014: Career breakthrough[edit]

Domhnall Gleeson at the 2011 Berlin International Film Festival

His first release of 2010 was the dystopian romance Never Let Me Go, starring Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, and Andrew Garfield.[19] Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 was released in November 2010, with the Part 2 being released the following July. His portrayal of Bill Weasley, Ron Weasley's older brother, exposed Gleeson to a wider audience.[20] The multi Academy Award nominated Coen Brothers' film True Grit featured Gleeson as Moon, a young outlaw.[19] His short comedy film, Noreen, starring his father and brother, was shown at the Tribeca Film Festival.[21] He portrayed musician Bob Geldof as he organises the 1985 Live Aid concert in the television film When Harvey Met Bob, which was broadcast on BBC Four on 26 December 2010.[22] Gleeson won the 2011 Ifta Award for Best Actor for his performance in the film.[23]

In the drama Shadow Dancer, released in August 2012, he played an IRA member whose own sister informs on him to the MI5.[24] Gleeson played landowner Kostya Levin in the historical romance Anna Karenina, based on the Leo Tolstoy novel.[25] The Daily Telegraph critic Tim Robey praised his performance, saying Gleeson "nails Levin’s adorable self-seriousness without sentimentalising what can make him hard work."[26] His final release of 2012 was the science fiction action film Dredd starring Karl Urban as the titular Judge Dredd, in which he played an unnamed computer expert working for the gang Dredd battles against.[27]

Gleeson made a guest appearance in "Be Right Back", an episode of the science-fiction anthology series Black Mirror in 2013. Starring alongside Hayley Atwell, he played a man who is killed in a car crash, but returns to his lover as an synthetic android clone of himself.[28] Later in 2013, Gleeson starred in About Time, a romantic comedy written and directed by Richard Curtis.[29] The story follows a young man, played by Gleeson, who uses time travel to win over an American girl, played by Rachel McAdams. Filming took place in London, England, in June 2012.[29] In a largely negative review, Catherine Shaord of The Guardian described Gleeson as a "ginger Hugh Grant", although she noted that "The effect, at first, is unnerving; as About Time marches on, Gleeson's innate charm gleams through and this weird disconnection becomes quite compelling."[30]

In Lenny Abrahamson's Frank (2014), he portrayed Jon, a wannabe musician who joins the band of the eccentric, papier-mâché head-wearing titular character played by Michael Fassbender.[31] Gleeson played a small role as a psychotic killer in the Irish drama Calvary, starring his father as a Catholic priest who visits him in prison.[32] His last release of 2014, was Angelina Jolie's directorial debut, the war film Unbroken. In the film, Gleeson portrayed a soldier lost at sea after a plane crash in Pacific Ocean during the Second World War. He lost what he described as a "sizable amount of weight" for the role.[33] Along with his father and brother Brian, Gleeson created and stars in the Immatürity For Charity comedy sketches, which raise money for the St. Francis Hospice in Raheny, Dublin.[34] Gleeson directed and starred in a music video for the Squarehead charity single "2025" in 2014, with all proceeds going to Immatürity For Charity.[34]

2015–present: Leading man and mainstream cinema[edit]

2015 saw Gleeson appear in four films, all of which received Oscar nominations.[35] His first release of the year was the science fiction psychological thriller Ex Machina, which was filmed at a hotel in Valldalen, Norway in the summer of 2013 and released in January 2015.[36] The film stars Gleeson as a programmer who wins a competition to visit the home of his company's CEO (Oscar Isaac) and test the human qualities of the artificially intelligent humanoid robot Ava, who is played by Alicia Vikander. The film was the directorial debut of Never Let Me Go and Dredd screenwriter Alex Garland and their third collaboration.[37] Ex Machina was met with critical acclaim for its performances, screenplay, direction, and visual effects.[38] In the romantic period drama Brooklyn, he appeared in a supporting role as a romantic interest of Saoirse Ronan's character, a young Irish woman living in Brooklyn in the 1950s.[39] Gleeson was announced to be a part of the Star Wars sequel trilogy in April 2014.[40] The first installment, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, was released in December 2015. Gleeson plays the ruthless General Hux, commander of the First Order's Starkiller Base.[41] Throughout the film, Hux is vying for power with First Order commander Kylo Ren, who is portrayed by Adam Driver.[42] In his last release of the year, Gleeson co-starred in Alejandro G. Iñárritu's western The Revenant as fur trader Andrew Henry, with Leonardo DiCaprio portraying fur trapper Hugh Glass.[43] Alongside his brother Brian and his father Brendan, Gleeson starred in a revival of the Enda Walsh play The Walworth Farce from January to February 2015.[44] In February 2016, Gleeson narrated the BBC Two nature documentary series Earth's Greatest Spectacles.[45]

Gleeson at a premiere for Brooklyn in September 2015

Gleeson played fashion house Burberry's founder, Thomas Burberry, in a short Christmas-themed advertisement film for the company in 2016.[46] He made a guest appearance on the Channel 4 sitcom Catastrophe as a recruitment consultant in March 2017.[47] Gleeson then played fictional CIA agent Monty Schafer in American Made, released in September 2017, starring Tom Cruise as drug smuggler Barry Seal.[48] Also in September, Gleeson had a small role in Darren Aronofsky's psychological horror film Mother! in which he shared significant screen time with his brother, starred alongside Christina Applegate and Thomas Haden Church in the independent comedy Crash Pad,[49] and portrayed Winnie-the-Pooh creator A. A. Milne in the biographical film Goodbye Christopher Robin.[48] His portrayal of Milne was deemed as being played a "little too stiffly" by BBC critic Nicholas Barber.[50] Gleeson reprised his role as General Hux in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, released in December 2017.[51]

In his first film of 2018, Gleeson co-starred as National Lampoon magazine co-founder and writer Henry Beard in the biographical comedy A Futile and Stupid Gesture, opposite Will Forte as the magazine's co-founder Doug Kenney.[52] Gleeson next starred in Peter Rabbit (2018) – based on the stories of the character of the same by Beatrix Potter – as Thomas McGregor, the great-grandnephew and heir to Mr. McGregor.[53] The adaptation received a mixed reception from critics, although Deadline Hollywood critic Pete Hammond praised "an appealing Gleeson" for "overcoming the unlikable aspects of Thomas".[54] The film fared better at the box office, grossing over $350 million globally.[55] Gleeson starred alongside his brother and father in the short film Psychic, which was directed by the latter and premiered in 2018 on Sky Arts.[56]

Also in 2018, Gleeson starred in the supernatural thriller The Little Stranger, with Ruth Wilson.[57] The story concerns a country doctor (Gleeson) who takes on a patient living in a possibly haunted old estate, where he falls in love with the owner's youngest daughter (Wilson).[57] It was Gleeson's second collaboration with director Lenny Abrahamson, following Frank.[57] He next featured in a supporting role in the crime drama The Kitchen (2019) as an intense Vietnam War veteran who becomes a hitman for the Irish Mob.[58]

In late 2019, Gleeson returned to the role of General Hux in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the last film of the nine-movie series.[59] He reprised his role as Thomas McGregor in Peter Rabbit 2 (2021).[60]

Personal life[edit]

Gleeson resides in Ballsbridge, Dublin.[2][61]

Gleeson shares a love of the English football team Aston Villa with his father Brendan. He described the team's FA Cup semifinal win over Liverpool at Wembley Stadium in 2015, as one of the "great days of my life".[62]

In an April 2020 interview with The Guardian, Gleeson stated that it never crossed his mind to change his surname at the beginning of his career to stay out of his father's shadow. His reasoning was that his father was not as well-known internationally at that time, and everyone in the Irish film industry already knew of their relationship.[63][64]



Year Title Role Notes
2004 Six Shooter Cashier Short film
2005 Boy Eats Girl Bernard
Stars Brian (voice) Short film
2006 Studs Trampis
2009 What Will Survive of Us None Short film
Perrier's Bounty Clifford
Corduroy Mahon Short film[65]
2010 Never Let Me Go Rodney
Sensation Donal Duggan
Noreen None Short film
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 Bill Weasley
True Grit Moon
2011 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 Bill Weasley
2012 Shadow Dancer Connor McVeigh
Dredd Clan Techie
Anna Karenina Konstantin Levin
2013 About Time Tim Lake
2014 Frank Jon Burroughs
Calvary Freddie Joyce
Unbroken Russell Allen Phillips
2015 Ex Machina Caleb Smith
Brooklyn Jim Farrell
Star Wars: The Force Awakens General Armitage Hux
The Revenant Andrew Henry
2016 The Tale of Thomas Burberry Thomas Burberry Short film
2017 American Made Monty Schafer
Mother! older brother
Crash Pad Stensland
Goodbye Christopher Robin A. A. Milne
Star Wars: The Last Jedi General Armitage Hux
2018 A Futile and Stupid Gesture Henry Beard
Peter Rabbit Mr. Jeremy Fisher (voice)
Thomas McGregor
The Little Stranger Dr. Faraday
2019 The Kitchen Gabriel O’Malley
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker General Armitage Hux
2021 Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway Thomas McGregor


Year Title Role Notes
2001 Rebel Heart Byrne 1 episode
2005 The Last Furlong Sean Flanagan 3 episodes
2009 A Dog Year Anthony Armstrong Television film
2010 Your Bad Self Various 6 episodes; also writer
When Harvey Met Bob Bob Geldof Television film
2012 Immatürity for Charity Various Fundraiser
2013 Black Mirror Ash Starmer Episode: "Be Right Back"
2016 Earth's Greatest Spectacles Narrator (voice) 3 episodes
2017 Catastrophe Dan 2 episodes
2018 Psychic Shergar Television short film
2019 Star Wars Resistance General Armitage Hux (voice) 2 episodes
2020 Run Billy Johnson 7 episodes
2021 Frank of Ireland Doofus MacGiollagan 6 episodes
2022 The Patient Sam Fortner 10 episodes
TBA The White House Plumbers John Dean Mini-series


Year Title Role Theatre Venue
2001–02 The Lieutenant of Inishmore Davey Barbican Centre, London
Garrick Theatre, London
2006 Lyceum Theatre, Broadway
2007 American Buffalo Bob Gate Theatre, Dublin
Great Expectations Herbert Pocket Gate Theatre, Dublin
2015 The Walworth Farce Blake Olympia Theatre, Dublin
2021 Medicine John Kane Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh[66]
Galway International Arts Festival, Galway
St. Ann's Warehouse, Brooklyn

Video games[edit]

Year Title Voice role Notes
2016 Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens General Armitage Hux

Theme park attractions[edit]

Year Title Role Venue
2014 Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts Bill Weasley Universal Studios Florida
2017 Star Tours: The Adventures Continue General Hux Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disneyland
2019 Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance General Hux Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge
(Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disneyland)

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result
2006 Tony Award Best Featured Actor in a Play The Lieutenant of Inishmore Nominated
2007 Irish Film and Television Awards Breakthrough Talent Studs Nominated
2011 Berlin International Film Festival Shooting Stars Award Won
Irish Film and Television Awards Best Actor in a Lead Role in Television When Harvey Met Bob Won
Tribeca Film Festival Jury Award: Best Narrative Short Noreen Nominated
2012 British Independent Film Awards Best Supporting Actor Shadow Dancer Nominated
Hamptons International Film Festival Breakthrough Performer Anna Karenina Won
2013 Empire Awards Best Male Newcomer Nominated
Irish Film and Television Awards Best Supporting Actor Film Won
2014 Best Lead Actor – Film About Time Nominated
2015 Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Film Frank Won
Awards Circuit Community Awards Best Cast Ensemble Star Wars: The Force Awakens Nominated
British Independent Film Awards Best Supporting Actor Brooklyn Nominated
2016 Irish Film and Television Awards Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Film Nominated
Best Actor in a Lead Role – Film Ex Machina Nominated
Saturn Award Best Actor Nominated
Central Ohio Film Critics Association Awards Best Ensemble Nominated
Actor of the Year Runner-up
2022 Irish Theatre Awards Best Actor Medicine Nominated [67]


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External links[edit]