Domhnall Gleeson tackles his fear of being funny in ‘About Time’

Domhnall Gleeson plays a man with mild time travel powers in "About Time." Credit: Getty Images
Domhnall Gleeson plays a man with mild time travel powers in “About Time.”
Credit: Getty Images

First off, it’s pronounced “Dough-noll.” Second off, Domhnall Gleeson is fast becoming a major film presence. He popped up as Bill Weasley in the last two “Harry Potter” films, a franchise that also employed his actor father Brendan Gleeson. With supporting turns in “True Grit,” “Dredd” and “Anna Karenina” under his belt, he moves to a headlining role in “About Time,” playing a man who can time travel for rom-com king Richard Curtis (“Love Actually”).

Were you a fan of Richard Curtis before?

When I was a kid we had three VHS tapes in the house. There were highlights from the Brazil ’70 word cup. There was “E.T.” And there was “Mr. Bean.” Then there’s “Notting Hill.” I don’t go and see romantic comedies a lot, but “Notting Hill” is one whenever it is on I find myself watching all the way through.

People often forget that Curtis once wrote very unromantic dark comedies, like “Blackadder.”

He’s got a dagger that he will slice in every now and then. His outlook on life is same as his movies: full of hope and beauty and looking for the moments that matter. There are those people who consider themselves positive people and probably are, but it is relentless. After awhile you want to say, “Will you shut the f— up and let me be depressed for a little bit? I’m enjoying it.” Richard — there’s a purity about it, and a wicked sense of humor. Those two things together do make the world a better place when you’re around him.

Still, he’s not afraid to be sentimental.

People can be ashamed of sentiment. It’s become a dirty word, sentimentality, because I think it’s been cheapened so much by so many bad movies, frankly, which exploit it to try and affect people. I think what’s lovely is Richard means it, instead of it being just a hollow attack on your tear ducts. He does that thing where you keep back a little bit, but when you do tell people what you really feel, you really mean it.

You have a good relationship with your own dad. How was it working with Bill Nighy as your father?

Our big scenes together were toward the end of the shoot, so we kind of knew each other when we did them. He was wrapping the day after our biggest scene in the movie, and all I kept on thinking was they’ll call “That’s a wrap!” for Bill Nighy, and then I’m not going to see him for six months.

How nervous were you of carrying a big movie for the first time?

You’re aware of the responsibility. But I know I work really hard. I prep like a f—er. I was still very nervous for the first two weeks on set. But being there every day does loosen you up. You get used to being on set.

You do a lot of serious work: Dickens, Tolstoy, serious theater. What was it like doing breezy and funny?

I think I can be funny sometimes. The responsibility of going to work and having to be funny is really, really scary. Because if it’s not funny you can feel it’s not funny. But when you can feel “I think if I was watching this I would be amused” — when you feel that, man, you’re just floating on air all day.

You also appeared in a small role in “True Grit.” What is it like being directed by the Coen brothers?

I was only on set being directed by them for three days, because it was a small part. It’s not going to make any huge headlines with this, but they’re everything you want to be around. They know the technical side: They know how the camera works, they know how to capture what they want. They’ve got their storyboards, which you can look at in the morning on the way to work.

Then they’re open to interpretation. If you need to tweak something, or you don’t understand why something isn’t working, they will make it work very quickly. They understand the films they’re making on the deepest, most interesting level, then do it all with a chuckle and a shrug of the shoulders. That makes it even more impressive — and annoying.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

National

Chelsea Clinton pregnant with first child

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.

National

Divers struggle in search for South Korean ferry…

By Jungmin Jang and Narae KimMOKPO/JINDO, South Korea (Reuters) - Rescuers struggled with strong waves and murky waters on Thursday as they searched for hundreds…

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

Movies

Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Sports

2014 Boston Marathon preview: Elite American, International runners…

2014 Boston Marathon: Elite American, International runners to watch

NBA

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams…

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams have the best shot at a championship. The Thunder, Clippers, Heat and Rockets lead the way.

NFL

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.

Travel

Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.

Tech

Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.