The first thing you notice about 30-year-old, six-feet-plus Irish actor Domhnaill Gleeson is the shock of unruly red hair that announces itself without so much as a beg-your-pardon. The second thing you notice is a certain casualness of demeanour that comes with not really noticing that members of the public are looking at you; and the third is just how much of a nice guy he is.
There comes a point in every wild child’s life when they have to either clean up their mess and glance back at it ruefully or wallow in it and suffer the consequences. We can easily see which route Dublin actor Colin Farrell has chosen – he sits beside me in a state of health so rude it’s almost unforgivable.
“I’ve always thought of myself as an actor, whereas the term ‘movie star’ has changed over the course of the past few years. You see these movies opening in America with unknown actors and they make hundreds of millions of dollars, and then you see ginormous star vehicles crashing and burning.
Let’s hear it for theatre companies, however small; if it were not for these often under-funded bodies, how else would the many actors we have come to know (yet not always love) come up through the ranks? In the case of Irish actor, Aidan Gillen, it is debatable what direction his life might have taken had he not lived close to a youth theatre company.
You know the many faces and the tri-part name, that he’s one of the most highly regarded American actors of his generation; that he used to be married to one of the most high profile American actresses of her generation; that he and his former wife, Angelina Jolie, were portrayed in gossip magazines as The Wild Couple or The Weird Pair.
It isn’t often you come face to face with one of the most recognisable faces in contemporary cinema – an Irish actor who claims not to know the meaning of the word “brooding” (we don’t believe him), and who has been described (by the New York Times) as a “rare contemporary actor who can turn an air of splendour into a sustained gale-force dramatic wind.” Gabriel Byrne (for it is he) is a fine actor with a substantial, credible body of work to his name; he is also the age (he’s in his 60s) where his sense of gravitas and authority is essential when it comes to defining the notion of cultural identity in the arts, how Ireland is perceived as a country, and how the Irish perceive themselves.