If you loved Brendan Gleeson in In Bruges then you’ll enjoy his take on Sgt. Gerry Boyle in The Guard. John Michael McDonagh makes his directorial debut with this comedic fish-out-of-water tale of murder, blackmail, drug trafficking and police corruption. Gleeson plays an eccentric Irish policeman who unwillingly is teamed up with a humorless FBI agent (Don Cheadle), and together they take on the biggest case to date an international drug-smuggling gang.
Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle chat with us about working together, surviving crazy Ireland weather and their many film projects. Cheadle brings light to his Miles Davis project, Iron Man 3 and War Machine spinoff. Gleeson talks Safe House with Vera Farmiga, The Raven based on Edgar Allan Poe’s last days, and his take on the Harry Potter franchise.
Movies.com: I know you from classic-historical films so I’m wondering if you are at all like Sgt. Gerry Boyle?
Brendan Gleeson: Only on certain days. [Laughs]. I wouldn’t go as far as Gerry but there is a lot teasing that happens back at home. I don’t know if I would keep it up as long or be quite as aggressive as Gerry. I suppose there is a little bit of Gerry in a lot of us.
I think he’s a profoundly lonely individual. I think he’s a very bright man who has allowed himself to get stuck in a place of disillusionment. He does have this moral code and doesn’t back down from it. I think he’s waiting around for his high noon, I think that he watched a lot of Westerns when he was growing up and he thought he was going to be John Wayne and then started waiting for these great challenges. And of course all his idealisms kind of dribbled away. I think he amused himself with his provocations and aversive language.
Don Cheadle: Ireland is a great setting, backdrop to dab on all the stuff that’s going on. Kind of like a Western set in the shores on Ireland.
Movies.com: You play a privileged FBI agent with a chip on his shoulder but he’s quite funny and plays so well with Brendan’s character. Is that what got you on board?
Cheadle: It was all about the entire piece. My character was funny to me because he was so easily ruffled and a straight up and down kind of guy. It was more of the combination of playing against Brendan’s character. The piece was well crafted and fully realized.
Movies.com: Brendan, did Don give you a hard time on set?
Gleeson: He’s amazing. Don really played him so well. When you’re doing comedy it’s really important to maintain your standards and Don inhabits that character so immensely. He brings so many things to it so much depth. He’s hilarious and very off-tempered. We laughed a lot, we worked in the heaviest rain and coldest weather in years and it was freezing.
Movies.com: Who had the hardest time with the weather?
Cheadle: I was not having a hard time with the weather! The production definitely had to deal a lot with that but I was golfing on the weekends in the rain. I was in Ireland so I brought my sticks and had a ball.
Movies.com: You two have a lot of projects coming up. Brendan, tell us about Safe House and The Raven.
Gleeson: Safe House has a fantastic cast. The film is by a young director Daniel Espinosa who I think will be one of the greatest. He’s a really interesting guy, very sharp, confident, on top of what he’s doing. This is a CIA story and it’s a page turner. There’s an interesting triangle that happens between Sam Shepard and Vera Farmiga within the organization. I’m very optimistic about it. We just wrapped so it will be a while before it emerges. I have a feeling it’s going to be very good.
The Raven is a fictional take on the last couple of days of Edgar Allan Poe’s life played by John Cusack. Poe kind of wonders into a hospital at the end of his life, either drunk or drugged, no one quiet knows exactly what happened so it’s a fictional take. It was a lot of fun; we shot that in Hungary and Serbia. The great thing about [the project] is revisiting Edgar Allan Poe’s work and going back to that world.
Movies.com: Don, what can you tell us about Iron Man 3?
Cheadle: I think it starts in February and I have no idea what the movie is going to be about because I haven’t seen a page of it. I think there are probably people out there on the Internet that know more about it than me. I really don’t know what it’s going to be but I’m excited to find out.
Movies.com: Did you ever think you would become an action hero?
Cheadle: I don’t know that I have become one. It’s funny to see that there is a War Machine doll. It wasn’t really planned; I never knew where this would lead me. I just knew that I enjoyed the job and the craft. I enjoyed expanding the horizons and doing a big summer tentpole movie like this is a new experience for me but it’s fun.
Movies.com: We hear there’s talk of a War Machine spinoff, true?
Cheadle: Yeah, it’s in talks but we’ll see if that actually comes to pass. It would be cool. I think it would probably be a bit darker version.
Movies.com: No pressure, right?
Cheadle: I’m not feeling it yet. I won’t feel that until I have the damn suit on. [Laughs]
Movies.com: So Miles Davis, what’s going on with that project?
Cheadle: I think we’re in a good place with it and very close to getting it an offer together. It’s not a standard biopic per say, it’s not attempting to be an overview of his life. It really focuses on an event that takes place over a couple of days in his life.
It started more than 10 years ago when Miles was inducted into the Hall of Fame around 2005. They were interviewing his nephew Vince Wilburn and they asked him about a [Miles Davis] film and he said, “Well the only person to play him would be Don Cheadle.” And the next day people were calling me asking me, “What do you want to do? How are we going to do this? Let’s do it.” So he initiated it, really.
Movies.com: How do you remember Davis?
Cheadle: I remember him through his music. I’ve done a lot of research, read his autobiography, read books and articles but really the greatest impact he still has and has had on me is through music.
Movies.com: Brendan, what are your thoughts on the Harry Potter franchise? You’ve been a part of several movies, what was your experience like?
Gleeson: Well, I’m very positive about it. At first I wasn’t sure if I would be met by brats…movie sets can be dangerous grounds for children. But when I went [on set] it was like walking into a magic cavern. The kids were allowed to go at their own pace, they were mischievous, they weren’t groaning when they had to do their homework every day. I remember being warned not to let Daniel [Radcliffe] get into a state of the giggles because it was almost impossible to stop. I loved them.
I compared it the other day to having a dog and say your dog died after 14 years. My kids grew up with Harry, and I think [the end] is going to be a bit like that for a lot of kids and parents.
The Guard premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival and will be hitting a theater near you on July 29th.