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Perrier's Bounty - Brendan Gleeson interview

Perrier's Bounty

Interview by Rob Carnevale

BRENDAN Gleeson talks about working on Perrier’s Bounty and playing another gangster, as well as getting to grips with the speedy shoot.

He also talks about his forthcoming directorial debut, At Swim Two Birds and why he feels proud to have been a part of the Harry Potter franchise as it approaches its final two films…

Q. You’re playing an Irish gangster again. This is the third time – but they’ve all been different…
Brendan Gleeson: Well, here’s the thing… I don’t enjoy horsing around chewing out the same performance. I have played four gangsters as far as I can remember – but the first one was written by Conor McPherson, the second one was written by John Boorman, the third was written by Martin McDonagh and the fourth one was written by Mark O’Rowe. So, I take it because there’s a huge diversity and they’re all proper writers. So, I don’t really feel it’s a stereotypical thing… they’re diff creations. You could grade them by levels of intelligence, I suppose [laughs]. But he [Perrier] is a great creation. They come at you and they’re jumping out of the page. I can’t say: “Oh no, I’ve played an Irish fella before…” That would be daft!

Q. This was a quick shoot as well, wasn’t it?
Brendan Gleeson: Yeah, but there is an adrenaline rush about having to get stuck in. But at the same time, you have to be allowed to breathe in order to make sure you have the right set up. I think there’s a big differentiation between being creative and problem solving. If time gets too constricted, you end up problem solving. Six day weeks, for example, are a great recipe for ending up just problem solving because everybody is knackered by the time it comes to Monday. All they’re doing is saying: “How are we going to get through this without making any mistakes?” As against being genuinely spontaneous and creative. In fairness to Ian, he had very little time to work and yet we seemed to have enough time on set to be creative with what we were doing and little bits and pieces could emerge on the day. It can be difficult shooting something so quickly.

Q. Director Ian Fitzgibbon has said that he’ll never work with dogs again. How were they for you?
Brendan Gleeson: Well, if it was a toss up between Ian and the dogs… erm! The dogs were brilliant. I had a lot to do with the dogs, but then I had a fire alarm. I thought the dogs were great actually. I really did. But I didn’t have to organise them in the way that Ian did. I think he let it all happen on the take. But they were great – they looked really savage but they had hearts of gold.

Q. What can you tell us about your involvement in the next Harry Potter movies [The Deathly Hallows]?
Brendan Gleeson: I die [laughs aloud]! I can’t really stretch it out. It’s in the book, isn’t it. It was just a nice chance to say goodbye to everybody actually. It was really nice. But it’s a huge undertaking – it’s a big shoot, 18 months, and 150 cast or something. So, it’s a mammoth thing. My son is in it too, which is great, and we’re actually in the same scene, which is ridiculous given the fact that he lives in Wandsworth and I’m there every week or two. So, that was a really great craic. But I love that whole franchise. I just love the way it was conducted, and the respect they had for both the audience and the kids growing up… they way that they treated them.

The last two films tended to go into CGI a little bit more with good results, but the basis of it is the old-style craftsmanship. I just love the whole thing. It was done with huge amounts of respect for the whole filmmaking process and also for the kids themselves. It’s something that I find really ghastly with having young kids and their childhoods warped and messed around by adult’s ambitions. But the whole set-up is beautifully done. The kids were allowed to grow up at their own pace, a proper pace, and they were really protected but not spoiled. So, I was really proud to be part of the whole thing and that’s why I signed up for the next ones.

It’s a great feeling when you’re allowed to bring your own kids on set and they bring in the Make A Wish kids every so often to the set. There was just a huge generosity and integrity about the franchise, and it was great – even when there’s mega-bucks involved. But they had such a phenomenal cast in terms of all the actors and they were so accommodating to everybody else’s work. They didn’t get proprietorial about it. They were understanding. So it was nice to be able to go back and say goodbye to all of that. And I got the sexiest broom in the whole cupboard. And I’m not just saying that! It’s my Harley broom. If I could bring it home, I’d be happy!

Q. What can you say about your directorial debut? Will you be working with Cillian again?
Brendan Gleeson: It’ll be in September or October now, and that’ll be the next project. I made the mistake of letting it out of the bag, and I just want to get it done now. It’s been a while since we had it. It’s an adaptation of At Swim Two Birds, the Flann O’Brien book, and it’s a kind of book of mayhem in terms of structure and everything else. It’s really anarchic. So, we’re trying to put manners on it without losing the madness! But we’re in a great place now, so we’re really looking forward to it. It’s a bit nerve-wracking. So, hopefully Cillian will still be around when we get the green light. But it’s great… we’ve had a lot of support from different actors and there’s great enthusiasm for it, so I just want to do it now. I’m fed up of messing around.

Q. What made you choose that as your first film as director?
Brendan Gleeson: The actual truth is that I started reading the book when I was 17 and I literally fell out of bed laughing. I actually fell out because I was laughing so much. It just hung into where I was at that point. Then, six or seven years ago, I just got a call and I was chatting to someone who had written the play version of it. The rights were available and she thought of me because she knew it was my kind of deal. So, we just went for it not knowing exactly how it would happen. But it just feel like it was manner from heaven. It’s just one of those books. I gave it to an American friend of mine and said: “I don’t really know what I’m at – this is un-filmable.” But he read the book and said: “Yeah, but the book is unwriteable!” So, I’m really looking forward to it now. It’s moved away from the book nicely now. I remember Anthony Minghella talking about his adaptations and saying he’s just leave the book aside, because it’s a different art form. So I think this has moved away sufficiently now so that it’s living in its own filmic skin.

Q. Do you have a dream role?
Brendan Gleeson: I remember thinking of being Caravaggio at one point and play his amazing life – just because I was over in Rome doing Gangs of New York. But it has to be properly written and so any film will diminish into an awful nothingness if it’s written by a crap scriptwriter, and any movie of any ordinary sort could be elevated into high art by a genius writer. The great thing, if you can maintain work, is the great diversity of people who walk in through the door. That’s the joy of it really – to play different lives other than your own, and then sometimes get very close to your own… that can speak to you in a very different way. Its usually down to the writer, who’s going to direct it and the whole set-up. But freshness is key, it’s always good to keep it fresh.

Read our review of Perrier’s Bounty

Read our interview with Cillian Murphy