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'Bad living' gave Gleeson edge for pirate adventure

BRENDAN Gleeson is the sort of man that you don't want to upset. Not that the guy is threatening in any way, but you can't help but imagine that he would be handy in a fight. Or on a rugby team. Or battling giant dragons.

It's also the fact that he plainly has little time for fools.

Luckily, he also has a devilish sense of humour and a sly chuckle never far from his lips.

Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists is the latest from those playful plasticine pranksters Aardman Animation, creators of Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep, Chicken Run and Morph.

Based on the first of a series of comic novels by Gideon Defoe, this swashbuckling tale sees our highly incompetent pirates setting out to win the coveted Pirate Of The Year award.

All seems lost until they happen upon Charles Darwin, who quickly recognises that the captain's ungainly parrot is in fact the very rare, very prize-worthy dodo.

Such a discovery would put Pirate Captain (voiced by Hugh Grant) on the map, and his motley crew off everyone's laughing stock list.

So, Mr Gleeson, how does one prepare to play Pirate with Gout?

"Lots of bad living," quips the 56-year-old actor. "Actually, it was a very interesting experience. Wallace & Gromit is one of my all-time favourite creations, so, I didn't need to be asked twice, you know."

When it came to making Pirates! the actors found themselves alone in a recording booth, with only a director, a recording engineer and a sheet of paper for company.

"Kind of like doing a radio play," Gleeson explains.


So, how did he become a pirate then, given that there was nary a ship, a swash or a buckle in sight?

"I had no notion of what to do with him at all," confesses one of Ireland's most celebrated screen actors, "except that I decided my man was from Rush -- given that there was a certain amount of history of ships being brought on to rocks there. So, I tried to play it with a Rush accent, but that didn't work out, because they wouldn't let me.

"I was trying to do a Fingal accent, too, just for the laugh, so he ended up being a vaguely Dublin pirate, which is kind of bizarre. I would have loved to make him Rush or Ringsend.

"He wasn't meant to be Irish," he says of his Pirates! character. "If you feel there's an Irish stereotype thing going on, I think when you go into a cartoon, you can forget about all that sort of stuff.

"I like that he was quite pretentious. He's one of those blokes who's a mixture of total innocence and complete arrogance ... " Gleeson allows himself a hearty chuckle. "I've come across these characters -- and I'm sure you have too -- travelling around this fair city of ours, so, I just had fun."

Brendan Gleeson seems to be having a lot of fun lately, with three films hitting our multiplexes this month: the action thriller Safe House; horror flick The Raven and Pirates!.

"You know how this business is," he says, "nothing for a year or two, and then there's three or four of them all at once.

"For the last while though, there's been two or three projects that have collapsed, so, I'm keen right now to get on set. I've been tearing around, doing all kinds of different stuff, but, as far as getting on a set, getting my teeth into a role, it's been a couple of months for me.


"There have been a couple of turkeys, which I won't mention, films that didn't work.

"It almost happened with The Guard. That film came together in the editing. It escaped from us though, for months and months on end. So, you know, I can never quite give up on a film, because that alchemy is always there, waiting to be unlocked.

"You have to just keep trying your best. That way, the odds will be stacked in your favour. It's kinda worked for me so far ... "

Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists is in cinemas now