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Domhnall Gleeson

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Domhnall Gleeson is going to be big. Huge in fact. How do we know? For one thing the Dublin-born actor has taken the lead role in Richard Curtis’ new film, About Time, a romantic comedy where a man travels back in time to better his future – think Love Actually, but lighter on the cheese. For another, acting is in his genes – his dad is Brendan Gleeson – as far as mentors go, it doesn’t really get any better. Above all, when we meet in The Merrion Hotel in Dublin, he seems slightly embarrassed, apologetic even, by all the fuss his presence has created. His lack of interest in the fame game is refreshing, and telling. He’s clearly in it for the long haul, which is just as well because we predict big things in his future.

Do you enjoy press interviews? It would be very difficult if I hated the movie to talk about it all day long, but I really like it so it’s easy to talk about it.

What was it like to work with Rachel McAdams? It was a wonderful, joyous experience. I was a massive fan of her work and thought she was totally brilliant and totally gorgeous before I got to meet her. I was a little bit worried, because you know, you’ve got to do ‘romance’ with one of the most beautiful people that’s every existed and that’s a bit intimidating and then you meet her and she just reflects love back at you a thousand fold.

How did you find playing the romantic lead? Again, intimidating. There’s a lot of responsibility about messing up a film you think is quite good. Richard [Curtis] had a lot of belief in me and I had belief in the script and then you have Rachel who has never had bad chemistry with anyone ever, so you trust that you’ll be able to make it work. And you have to trust in yourself and I really enjoyed it in the end.

You recently turned 30, how did you celebrate? I spent my actual birthday with one friend in New York. I had to do some press over there and had to stop in New York, so I kind of missed my thirtieth at home, which was a bit sad. I was kind of jetlagged. I was very lucky though because I had a surprise birthday party when I got home.

If you had one day to do over what would it be? The boring answer is that most of the days that you’ve lived, even the really shitty ones, and have probably made your respect life a little more. I have never done anything totally appalling – I mean, I’ve never killed anyone – so I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve got plenty of regrets, but they’re necessary regrets; you learn from them, so there’s no point doing them over. I’d probably be the worst person to do everything over again. 

What do you consider your most alpha quality? I don’t have the brow or the jawline, so I don’t know where to go on this? My deep love for Aston Villa.

Hidden talent? I can put my foot behind my head. That’s a really weird quality. I’m quite stretchy. I only break out those things when it’s really necessary and it’s rarely necessary.

Your ability to grow facial hair is pretty impressive – how long does it take for a full-on beard? That is my most alpha quality! Thank you. I do grow hair pretty quickly, weirdly. I’m not one of those five o’clock shadow people who have to shave my forehead and my cheeks. But when it happens it comes on quick.

A Domhnall Gleeson appreciation blog describes you as “delightfully awkward”. Is this an accurate description of you? [Laughs]. Yes, I can be awkward, but I can also be relaxed. People who wrote that blog don’t know me personally, so their only experience of me is through the press, and yes, I find all that a bit awkward. But if that comes across as delightful to someone then I’ll totally take that.

Quick fire round

Night in or night on the town? Both are tempting. It depends on who you’re with, but nights out are fun.

Blonde, brunette or redhead? I always had a thing for brunettes, but it’s what’s inside that counts. No, brunettes. [Laughs].

Last thing you bought? These jeans. I have about five pairs of these jeans. I bought them in Zara, they fit me and they were cheap. They were on sale so I got five pairs, which will last me for five years.

Last song you listened to? “Changes” by David Bowie.

Last book you read? I’m reading a biography of Raymond Chandler at the moment, which I’m very much enjoying. I also recently read the play The Walworth Farce by Enda Walsh.

Favourite indulgence? I’ve got a sweet tooth. My godparents gave me a beautiful wallet for my thirtieth, but they also gave me a box full of sweets. Like, a huge box. It should have lasted me a month and they were gone in a week and a half. My other aunt gave me a jellybean dispenser and another aunt gave me chocolates in the shape of sardines. Everyone knows my sweet tooth. I eat a lot of ice cream as well. The last thing I bought was actually a 99er.

Favourite TV show? I don’t watch TV much, but I did go on Netflix recently to watch Arrested Development.

Interview by Rosie McMeel

Photo by Richard Gilligan

About Time is out September 6.

For more interviews from our Young Guns pick up a copy of the IMAGE September issue on newsstands now.

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