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
International

Canadian charged in 'Heartbleed' attack on tax agency

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian police have arrested a 19-year-old man and charged him in connection with exploiting the "Heartbleed" bug to steal taxpayer data from…

National

Every dog has his day in court, in…

(Reuters) - Call him juror K-9.A computer glitch is likely to blame for a summons that called a German Shepherd to report for jury duty,…

Local

Local politicians pressure DOJ to investigate Ramarley Graham…

On what would have been his 21st birthday, Ramarley Graham's mother joined elected leaders to ask the U.S. Department of Justice investigate his death.

Local

Muslim leaders welcome NYPD surveillance changes with degree…

Leaders and advocates praise the NYPD's move to shut down a unit tied to its Muslim surveillance program but say there's more left to do.

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 8

Sure, it's called Survivor. But this season should really be called 'The Tony Show.'

Television

Jim Rash talks 'The Writer's Room' and amazing…

For Jim Rash, as the fifth season of "Community" comes to a close, the second season of "The Writer's Room" begins.

Going Out

Tasty chicken and waffles in NYC

Try some soul food goodness around the city.

Television

'Dexter' star Jennifer Carpenter moves into producing role

The actress who played the title character's sister in "Dexter" is teaming up with producer George Stelzner to adapt Erika Hayasaki's book "The Death Class:…

NHL

Marc Staal healthy, eager to contribute to Rangers…

Marc Staal remembers the feeling of helplessness watching his teammates compete for hockey’s ultimate prize and being unable to contribute.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

NHL

Flyers, Rangers meet in playoffs for 11th time

The Flyers and Rangers will start a new chapter in a historic rivalry.

MLB

Masahiro Tanaka dominates Cubs over eight shutout innings

Masahiro Tanaka certainly had no-hit caliber stuff Wednesday as he allowed just two bunt singles.

Wellbeing

This Week in Health: chocolate may prevent obesity…

Can chocolate prevent obesity and diabetes? Location of study: U.S. Study subjects: Mice Results: The positive health benefits of chocolate have been studied increasingly more…

Wellbeing

This Week in Health News: breastfed infants trying…

Are breastfed infants trying to prevent mom from having another baby? Theory: The act of breastfeeding not only brings mom and baby closer together –…

Wellbeing

Unexplained infertility may be caused by lack of…

Researchers have identified a protein on the egg's surface that interacts with another protein on the surface of sperm, allowing the two cells to join.

Tech

5 surprising facts about Google Glass

Your sex life could get more interesting.