Brendan Gleeson (born March 29, 1955) is an Irish actor who has starred in many high profile Irish, American and British films. He is perhaps best known for his roles in the Harry Potter films, Kingdom of Heaven, Troy, Gangs of New York, 28 Days Later, Braveheart, and The General and as Michael Collins in The Treaty. His most recent role is as Ken in the movie In Bruges, starring alongside Colin Farrell and Ralph Fiennes.
Gleeson was born in Dublin, Ireland. He has said that he was an avid reader as a child. After leaving school, he worked for two years in an office with a health board. He later graduated from University College Dublin. Gleeson then worked for several years as a secondary school teacher in Belcamp College, in North County Dublin, where he taught English, Mathematics, and Drama.
Gleeson lives in Malahide, County Dublin. He and his wife, Mary, have been married since 1982 and have four sons, Domhnall, Fergus, Brian and Rory.
Gleeson is also a very talented fiddle player, with an interest in folklore. He is good friends with fellow Irish actors Liam Neeson, Stephen Rea and Cillian Murphy. He has long been known for his love of football and recounts tales of attempting to get a clear radio reception so he could listen to how his team, Aston Villa was faring on a Saturday.
Gleeson started acting at the age of 34. He first came to prominence in Ireland for his role as Michael Collins in The Treaty a television film broadcast on RTÉ One, and for which he won a Jacob's Award in 1992.
Gleeson has subsequently acted in more than 60 films including Braveheart, I Went Down, The Treaty, Gangs of New York, Cold Mountain, 28 Days Later, Troy, Kingdom of Heaven, Lake Placid, Artificial Intelligence: AI and The Village. He won critical acclaim for his performance as Irish gangster Martin Cahill in John Boorman's 1998 film The General. While Gleeson played Michael Collins in The Treaty, he later portrayed Liam Tobin in the film Michael Collins with Liam Neeson taking the role of Collins.
Gleeson frequently appears in the role of mentor or authority figure; he played Hogwarts professor Mad-Eye Moody in the fourth and fifth Harry Potter films, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Roger Ebert described him as having a "noble shambles of a face and the heft of a boxer gone to seed" in praising his performance in In Bruges.
He starred in the short film Six Shooter in 2006, which won an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short.