Brendan Gleeson in The Guard

Brendan Gleeson in The Guard

The Guard finally hits British cinemas this week - despite making the top ten on Irish box office success alone over the last couple of weeks.

Directed by John Michael McDonagh the movie stars Brendan Gleeson who plays a policeman who teams up with an FBI agent to investigate an international drug smuggling ring.

To celebrate the release of the movie we take a look at some of the greatest Irish actors who have graced the big screen.

- Peter O'Toole

It would be hard to argue that there has not been a greater Irish actor than Peter O'Toole who has enjoyed a career that has spanned almost sixty year and a whole host of movies and roles.

As well as having huge success with film performances such as Lawrence of Arabia, Goodbye, Mr Chips and most recently Venus he has also has a fine career on the stage.

Over his years in the business he has notched up a whopping eight Oscar nominations - unbelievably he is yet to win.

We will be seeing him in Cristiada alongside Andy Garcia and Eva Longoria.

- Michael Gambon

Michael Gambon is another actor who has enjoyed a very lengthy career, fifty years next year, working in TV, movies and theatre.

He made his film debut in 1965 in Othello but to youngsters the actor is best known as Dumbledore from Harry Potter. Gambon took over the role in 2004 after the death of Richard Harris.

This year has been a great year for the actor as he reprised the role of Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2, which went to gross over $1 billion, and The King's Speech, in which he played King George V won the Best Picture Oscar.

His next project is Page Eight which sees him work alongside Ralph Fiennes, Bill Nighy and Rachel Weisz.

- Liam Neeson

Liam Neeson may have Academy Award nominations for dramatic roles such as Schindler's List in his back pocket but in recent years he has become more of an action star.

Yes Neeson has been kicking some ass in his latest movies such as Taken, Unknown and The A-Team and of course he was a bit of am action hero in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

Over the years he has mixed and matched his projects moving from the likes of Kinsey to Batman Begins and The Chronicles of Narnia.

And the popular actor continues to be in great demand as he is set to reprise the role of Zeus in Clash of the Titans 2 next year while Battleship, which is based on the game, is also on the horizon.

- Brenda Fricker

Brenda Fricker is another actor who has mixed her film work with TV and theatre in a career that she kicked off in the mid sixties.

But her most famous role remains that of Bridget Brown in 1989 drama My Left Foot, which also starred Daniel Day Lewis, as she picked up a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance.

Albert Nobbs, which is directed by Rodrigo Garcia,  is the next project for the actress as she stars alongside Mia Wasikowska and Aaron Johnson. She has also completed work on Cloudburst.

- Gabriel Byrne

As well as acting Gabriel Byrne has also produced, written and directed in a career that was kicked off back in 1978.

However it's The Usual Suspects that remains his most famous role as he took on the Dean Keaton in the Bryan Singer directed film.

The movie is regarded as somewhat of a classic and the twist remains one of the greatest in cinema history.

Byrne has currently swapped film for TV as he is starring as a therapist in In Treatment - for which he won a Golden Globe.

- Michael Fassbender

Michael Fassbender is a German born Irish actor who is one of the most exciting stars that is currently working in Hollywood at the moment.

While he had roles in the likes of Band of Brothers, Murphy's Law and 300 it was the 2008 movie Hunger than put him on everyone's radar.

The actor took on the role of Bobby Sands and told the story of the 1981 Irish hunger strikes - the film was met by critical acclaim.

He has also enjoyed great performances in Fish Tank and Inglorious Basterds and took on the big budget blockbuster this summer with X-Men: First Class, in which he took over the role of Erik Lensherr.

He will be back later this year in the role of Edward Rochester in a new adaptation of Jane Eyre.

- Brendan Gleeson

In a career that has spanned over twenty years actor Brendan Gleeson has starred in some high profile and really great movies.

He has worked on the likes of Braveheart, Gangs of New York and Harry Potter as well as smaller projects such as In Bruges.

But he hasn't only found success on the big screen but also on TV as his portrayal of Winston Churchill in Into The Storm earnt him universal praise as well as an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe nomination.

He is back this week wit his new movie The Guard, which sees him team up with Don Cheadle and Liam Cunningham.

The Guard is released 19th August

FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw

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