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'I love my job but the photo selfies can be a bit wearing'

Brendan Gleeson hates selfies.

It's been 16 years since he filmed The General, playing Martin Cahill with his hand over his face and Brendan still doesn't like having his picture taken.

The Malahide actor is currently promoting his new movie, The Grand Seduction and spoke to the Herald about filming in Newfoundland, the constant selfie machine and how proud he of his sons.

The Grand Seduction tells the story of the residents of a Newfoundland fishing harbour who try to lure big city doctor Paul Lewis to become their physician so that a factory will open there and create jobs for the local community.

The IFTA award-winning actor plays the part of Murray, an unemployed fisherman spearheading the town's campaign with US actor Taylor Kitsch playing the hot-shot doctor.

Speaking on what drew him to the film, Brendan said,

"Working in Newfoundland really attracted me to the film. I love the landscape and scenery there. Some of the rocks are the deepest colour purple, they're just stunning and when the sun comes out and there's the blue sea and then these purple rocks, it was just absolutely incredible.

"The people there are amazing as well; I'd love the connection between Ireland and Newfoundland to kick off again."


While admitting, he had great fun making The Grand Seduction the 59-year-old felt he underestimated how tiring filming comedy can be,

"This move got sort of squashed in between The Smurfs, which I filmed in Montréal, and then Calvary and I was really knackered by the time we started filming that here in Ireland. I wouldn't do that again, not that I regret it but I underestimated how much energy making The Grand Seduction was going to take out of me.

"We had great fun, especially with the three amigos-style scenes with Gordon Pinsent and Mark Critch but it was tiring trying to keep the cutesy element out of it while also trying to be funny. I hope people get the joke. It's not all explosions and car chases but I think people are going to be surprised by it."

It's been 20 years since criminal Martin Cahill was shot dead in Ranelagh and Brendan feels that his portrayal of him in The General stands the test of time.

"The General was my first time working with John Boorman, and that was a huge thing for me, and I think he brought me to another level as an actor. I think everything about the film stands up as well - the reason we did it, the way it was shot in black and white, and how we approached it.

"I know people questioned at the time if we were glorifying it but I don't think anyone would ever accuse us of not taking the whole subject seriously or that we tried to glamorise anything, I think we just tried to find the truth in it to be honest."

However, despite his extensive success both at home and abroad, he feels that there is a price to pay for being such a recognisable star,

"It's not that comfortable to be honest, the ever-present selfie machine becomes a little bit wearing at times and you find yourself avoiding places and things like that. I wouldn't ever trade it though, even though I don't like paying the price.

"In general, people are nice and everything but it's just the selfie obsession gets a little bit uncomfortable. I mean it's the price you pay for getting to work at what you love and work at the level that I'm able to work at," he continued.


A more recent production, Calvary, which was filmed in Sligo, sees Gleeson play Fr James, a priest who is told that he will be murdered in a week's time by a mysterious parishioner. The movie has had a great reception in the US since opening earlier this month,

"It's great, but you know movie people can talk and say what they want but it really whether people go and see it and a film is not a film unless people are watching it.

I'd love it to be seen in the cinema with other people who are engaging with it. I was delighted with the way it worked in Ireland, it wasn't everybody's cup of tea but it had a life and people were talking about it which is what you want."

Brendan and his wife Mary have four sons: Domhnall, Brían, Fergus and Rúairí, with Brían and Domhnall (currently filming the latest Star Wars movie) following in their father's footsteps.

Brendan says he loves having such a creative family and relishes the chance to work with his sons, as he did with Domhnall in Calvary,

"I'm very proud of all my boys and the great thing for me is getting to work with them and that goes across the board with all of them. I'm always interested in what they think and I love running scripts and projects by them.

"I'm not the one dispensing all the wisdom either; we share certain experiences and in terms of their craft, they're coming to a place now where they've put in the hard yards and I'm really interested to see how they interpret certain things."

Gleeson will next appear in Suffragette, starring Meryl Streep and Carey Mulligan,w but for now he's taking a break and enjoying some quality time at home, "I just want to recharge the batteries for the next while and take a breath".