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In Bruges - Brendan Gleeson interview

In Bruges

Interview by Rob Carnevale

BRENDAN Gleeson talks about reuniting with Oscar-winning director Martin McDonagh for hitman comedy In Bruges and establishing a great chemistry with co-star Colin Farrell…

Q. You’d worked with director Martin McDonagh on his short film, Six Shooter. Did you notice any nerves from him when it came to stepping up to the longer form?
Brendan Gleeson: No… well maybe a little bit on the first day. There were a few little things on Six Shooter that had to do with his own constant that I noted. For example, the things he should make a decision on immediately and the things he could leave to other people. So, when it was appropriate to delegate was the only thing on Six Shooter that could betray the fact that he hadn’t done this all his life. I think he’s been a keen student of film all his career and his plays are very filmic in a lot of ways. So no, I saw the transition and I was very confident even during Six Shooter as his taste is what comes into play at all times. And having seen Six Shooter not only shot but edited I knew there were little places where I felt uneasy about certain takes and things like that, but they were all spotted and addressed, so I had no fear in that regard whatsoever.

Q. Were you ever worried about crossing any lines with some of the non-PC elements in the script?
Brendan Gleeson: I think there’s a certain danger when you’re allowed to take away those barriers of taste in your language… there’s a great attraction to being able to say absolutely anything you like. You kind of have to stop yourself when you come off the set [laughs] because it’s not OK to kind of mouth the insults that your character makes.

Q. How easy was it to establish the deadpan banter that exists between yourself and Colin, which reminded me of a contemporary Matthau and Lemmon at times?
Brendan Gleeson: Well, thanks very much. It was very easy. To be honest, it’s all in the writing. But I think we have similar sensibilities anyway, so we kind of hit the ground running. It didn’t feel like we had to work at it. I’ve obviously admired his work for a long time. I could see the honesty and integrity in him. And I was dying to work with him. So it was good to work with him on something so great. But I also don’t think that Colin got through one day without ever having a really painful scene to get into and fill but at the same time playing about was an awful lot of fun too.

Q. Amidst all the success you have with American movies, how important is it to be able to come back and make films in Britain?
Brendan Gleeson: It has been a little bit conscious for me. I live in Dublin but one of the reaons I ventured over to America was less about fame and fortune and more about the fact that every time a film came in all this part of the world was already cast. So the move to America, for me, was about trying to get into a place where I could actually get to do good work. Obviously, I love doing it at home but at the same time when the work beckons you’ve got to go.

Read our review of In Bruges