The current crop of quality Irish cinema is running almost parallel with the stratospheric rise in our very own Domhnall Gleeson. While 2014 has seen the average of home-grown movies at a much higher standard, Domhnall has similarly possessed an almost super-natural ability for picking great projects to become involved in.
So far this year alone we've seen him a small but riveting role in one of our favorite movies of the year, Calvary (read the review HERE), he's held his own against a scene-stealing Michael Fassbender in quirky comedy Frank (review HERE) and, of course, there was THAT photo of him at the Star Wars Episode VII script-read.
But none of this has just happened by chance, and looking back over his career trajectory, you get the impression that this is a very smart man making some very savvy choices. While it might have been initially easy to say that he only got his break thanks to his father, it’s quite clear that Brendan couldn't have predicted just how in demand his son would go on to become.
One of his very first roles was a supporting part in Six-Shooter, the Oscar-winning short film headlined by Brendan Gleeson and directed by Martin McDonagh, who went on to work with Gleeson Snr again with In Bruges. He continued to star alongside his dad for a number of films, including soccer-comedy Studs, oddball gangster flick Perrier's Bounty, and then there was his late-in-the-day appearances in Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Parts 1 & 2 as Bill Weasley.
Since then, he's worked with some of the biggest names in movies, including The Coen Brothers and Jeff Bridges on True Grit, Joe Wright and Jude Law on Anna Karenina, and James Marsh and Clive Owen on Shadow Dancer to name but a few, and each time has put in a sterling performance which always manages to draw him some attention, no matter who he's sharing the screen with.
There's also been a heavy sci-fi influence in Domhnall's work, from the alternative world tragedy and his singular heart-wrenching scene in Never Let Me Go, to his albino-esque tech-head in the hyper-violent Dredd, and even the time-travel element to be found in one of our favorite films of 2013, the delightful rom-com About Time. He's even been involved in Charlie Brooker's dark take on the genre, playing an android version of his former self in the much-loved mini TV series Black Mirror. His CV is about to get stuffed with even more sci-fi; there's the aforementioned journey to a galaxy far, far away and then he's up against Oscar Isaac in futuristic thriller Ex Machina, well known writer and first-time director Alex Garland (Never Let Me Go, Dredd, Sunshine, 28 Days Later).
Of course, not everything on Domhnall's resume has been golden, with one of his first outings being the trite Samantha Mumba zombie horror comedy Boy Eats Girl, while sit-com The Last Furlong and sketch show Your Bad Self never made it passed a few episodes of their first season. But these missteps are few and far between, and Domhnall looks like he's learned hugely from all of them.
Looking forward he's managing to mix the blockbuster with the awards-magnets, with the 2015 Oscars looking likely to be a big night for Unbroken, the Angelina Jolie directed biopic drama of World War II prisoners of war, in which Domhnall plays real-life war-hero Russell Allen Phillips. Then there's the adaptation of multi-award winning novel Brooklyn, set to be directed by John Crowley (Intermission), adapted by Nick Hornby (About A Boy, High Fidelity) and co-starring Saoirse Ronan as an Irish immigrant, this will continue the upswing trend in Irish cinema.
When we spoke to Domhnall recently about Frank, it's clear that he’s got a real passion and interest in the movies he's chosen, real respect for those he works with, and has managed to keep grounded despite his rising star level. Put all that together, and what you've got an absolute gem of an Irish actor, and we'll be constantly excited to see what he gets up to next!