Monday 14 October 2019

Pat Stacey: Brendan Gleeson's Golden Globes nomination snub is an outrage

It's unfathomable why the Golden Globes ignored Mr Mercedes, writes Pat Stacey

Sleeper hit: Brendan Gleeson as retired detective Bill in Mr Mercedes
Sleeper hit: Brendan Gleeson as retired detective Bill in Mr Mercedes

Pat Stacey

Brendan Gleeson is great. This is not a mere opinion, this is an incontrovertible truth.

If, for some inexplicable reason, you don’t believe this, then you’re a fool. Go away! Stop reading my words. I want nothing more to do with you.

Not only is Brendan Gleeson great, he’s great in everything. This, too, is an incontrovertible truth. I defy anyone to look through his huge list of film and TV credits — small roles, supporting roles, starring roles — and find a single bad performance. You’ll be wasting your time, because no such thing exists.

Producers and directors are aware of Gleeson’s greatness. That’s why they keep casting him. He’s worked with the two biggest of the Hollywood biggies, Scorsese and Spielberg, and with Danny Boyle and the Coen brothers (in their latest, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs). 

He can play virtually any role in any genre, slipping adroitly between drama and comedy. He was mesmerising on TV as Michael Collins in The Treaty and Winston Churchill in Into the Storm (which won him an Emmy).

His Martin Cahill elevated John Boorman’s The General (an unbelievable 20 years ago now), which could easily have looked ridiculous to an international audience unfamiliar with its notorious protagonist. And my kids assure me, he was the perfect Mad-Eye Moody in the Harry Potter films.

This is just a handful of highlights from the glittering array of characters on Gleeson’s bulging CV. To all those, we can add another: Bill Hodges in the brilliant Mr Mercedes, based on Stephen King’s trilogy of novels.

I don’t know if there’s any truth in the claim that King had Gleeson’s face in his head while writing the books; the literary Hodges is, for instance, an American, rather than an Irishman who emigrated to America when he was 17.

That’s a flourish added by Gleeson and series creator David E Kelley, who previously worked together on 1999’s Lake Placid.

One thing is certain, though: this is a part that the 63-year-old star was born to play. He’s simply wonderful as Hodges, a grizzled retired detective-turned-private eye.

If I’d been asked to bet on which actor was a shoo-in for this year’s Golden Globe best actor award, I’d have put my money on Gleeson — and so, I imagine, would anyone else who’s been riveted by Mr Mercedes from the beginning. And yet, he didn’t receive so much as a nomination.

There are some years when there are simply so many great performances around that a few of them are inevitably going to get overlooked.

But can anyone seriously suggest that Gleeson wasn’t as good as, if not better than, Matthew Rhys in The Americans, Jason Bateman in Ozark or Richard Madden in The Bodyguard, all of whom are among the Globe nominees named last week? I can’t offer an opinion on the two other two, Billy Porter (Pose) and Stephan James (Homecoming), because I haven’t seen either series. 

Gleeson isn’t the only outrageous omission from the Globes list. Harry Treadaway, superb as Hodges’ psychopathic adversary Brady Hartsfield, didn’t receive a nomination in the supporting actor category.

Nor was there any recognition for the series’ female stars, Taylor Holland, Justine Lupe, Breeda Wool and Kelly Lynch, who were all outstanding. Mr Mercedes didn’t get a look-in in the best series category, either.

Why this should be, I simply can’t understand — no more than I can fathom why Mr Mercedes and its cast were completely ignored by the Emmys earlier in the year.

The Golden Globes, which cover film as well as TV and are voted on by the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, have a reputation as being the least conservative of the annual awards handouts.

The Oscars and the Emmys tend to reward popularity, whereas the Globes honour quality and originality. If this year’s Globes prove anything, it’s that this is a load of balls.

Season Two of Mr Mercedes continues on RTE2 next Monday.

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