Brendan Gleeson in The Guard

Brendan Gleeson in The Guard

Brendan Gleeson is an actor who has enjoyed a career that has spanned over twenty years and seen him take on the horror movie, big budget blockbuster and black comedy ranking from the big screen to TV.

This week the actor returns with his new movie The Guard, which has already taken the Irish box office by storm.

So to celebrate the release of the movie we take a look at some of the Gleeson performances that you really need to see.


Gleeson kicked off his career in 1989 but it was six years later that he secured bus major breakthrough in Braveheart.

Cast as Hamish Campbell in the Mel Gibson directed movie Gleeson found himself cutting down the English on the field of battle alongside William Wallace.

The movie was a box office smash and went on to gross in excess of $210 million worldwide.

Braveheart also went on to win five Academy Awards - including Best Picture & Best Director.

- The General

In 1998 he gained acclaim for his performance in The General - which was directed by John Boorman - in which he played Martin Cahill.

The movie followed the real-life story of Dublin folk hero and criminal Cahill, who pulled off two daring robberies in Ireland with his team, but attracted unwanted attention from the police, the IRA, the UVF.

Gleeson won Best actor gongs at the Boston Society of Film Critics, Irish Film and Television Awards and the London Film Critics Circle Awards for his central performance.

- 28 Days Later

In 2002 Gleeson teamed up with filmmaker Danny Boyle for British horror movie, and now somewhat of a classic, 28 Days Later.

The movie also starred Cillian Murphy, Naomi Harris and Christopher Eccleston and follows a group of humans as they struggle to survive after a virus breaks out.

Gleeson plays Frank who is desperately trying to get his young daughter to safety after the breakout.

The movie was met well by the critics and was a box office hit in both the U.S. and the UK - it had big success in the States bearing in mind that it had a limited release.

- Gangs of New York

2002 brought another collaboration with a high profile director as Martin Scorsese directed Gangs of New York.

He was cast as Walter ‘Monk’ McGinn alongside an all star cast of Leonardo Dicaprio, Daniel Day Lewis and Cameron Diaz.

The movie was another hit for both the actor and the director and the movie was nominated for a whole host of Oscars, including Best Picture.

- Harry Potter

In 2005 the big budget blockbuster came calling in form of monster box office hit Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - in which he was cast as Alastor ’Mad Eye’ Moody.

As with many Potter movies it was a box office smash as it took on excess of $896 million at the global box office. He reprised the role on two other occasions: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1.

- In Bruges

He teamed up with fellow Irishman Colin Farrell for the 2008 black comedy In Bruges, which was directed by Martin McDonagh.

 Holed up in Bruges, Belgium after a difficult job, two hit men begin to differ on their views of life and death as they become used to local customs.

The movie, and indeed the two central performances, was met critical acclaim as In Bruges really was one of the most original movies of the year.

Gleeson was nominated for awards at the Bafta, British Independent Film Awards, Golden Globes and Satellite Awards.

- Into The Storm

He swapped movies for TV in 2009 when he took on the role of Winston Churchill in Into The Storm, which was directed by Thaddeus O'Sullivan

Continuing the storyline of The Gathering Storm, Churchill at War is a look at the former British prime minister's life and career at the end of WWII.

Gleeson’s performance was top notch and he picked up an Emmy Award for lead actor as well as picking up a Golden Globe nomination.

- The Guard

Sergeant Gerry Boyle is a small-town Irish cop with a confrontational personality, a subversive sense of humour, a dying mother, a fondness for prostitutes, and absolutely no interest whatsoever in the international drug-smuggling ring that has brought FBI agent Wendell Everett to his door.

Boyle drifts through life, not much concerned about anything, not even the mysterious murder of a man in one of the town’s holiday cottages.

But when Everett shows Boyle the mug shots of four drug traffickers, he recognises one of them as the dead man.

And so the two cases converge, with a bemused Everett finding himself adrift in the decidedly original and sometimes surreal world of Sergeant Gerry Boyle, the last of the independents!

The Guard is out now

FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw

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