'School teaching is a bluff - and it prepared me for life as an actor,' reveals Gleeson

Actor Brendan Gleeson says teaching teenagers ‘is a bluff’

Lynne Kelleher

Hollywood star Brendan Gleeson has told how his time as a teacher schooled him for life as an actor.

In a revealing interview with 'Variety', the 'Harry Potter' actor said his biggest fear after making the leap from teaching to acting was waiting for the phone to ring and compromising his integrity for lucrative roles.

The prolific actor, who has starred opposite Nicole Kidman, Brad Pitt and most recently Diane Keaton, first learned to adopt a different persona after his baptism of fire as a secondary school teacher.

"At first, I tried to treat students reasonably, like they were human beings. And they ate me alive. So, I did learn to keep my distance. I learned that it's a bluff," he said.

The 62-year-old, who recently wrapped up production on 'Paddington 2', said his wife Mary helped to give him the push he needed to give up his day job at the age of 35.

He said: "I was teaching English and Irish at the secondary school level and I actually enjoyed it, but in the summer of 1989 I was working at the Tivoli Theatre and the Olympia Theatre in Dublin, and I was making a little bit of money.

"My wife Mary is very level-headed, and she encouraged me. She was incredibly supportive. We both felt it was time to make the jump, and she went back to work at the Abbey Theatre in the first few years to make sure the family was taken care of."

Just a year later, he was cast in his first film role opposite Richard Harris in 'The Field'.

He said his biggest concern was being out of work for long periods - but it never happened as his career took off.

He told 'Variety': "My general impression of the entertainment business was positive. I had been warned. I heard all the stories of backstabbing. And all of the networking that I was told was required was definitely not what I wanted to do.

"My biggest fear in the early days is that I'd spend my life sitting on the couch waiting for the phone call.

"I was afraid I would get in the position of doing anything for the money, that I'd get taken in by the system, but that crisis of integrity never happened."

The star, who has been acting for nearly three decades, got his first big break when he got a starring role in 'Braveheart' in 1995.