Brendan Gleeson stars alongside Diane Keaton, in the romantic comedy, inspired by actual events, “Hampstead”.
I always love sitting down for a chat with Brendan Gleeson. You are always guaranteed an interesting and fun chat.
This time around we spoke about his new film “Hampstead”, how he and Diane made their very different acting styles work, his real thoughts about fame/celebrity and lots more.
Brendan was attracted to this story because it “is full of heart and then I read the trial scene, and I said, ‘This is so bizarre, it must be true.'”
Diane Keaton plays Harry’s love interest, Emily. Both Brendan and Diane have two very different acting styles, so how did they make it work?
“It can be frustrating (the 2 very different styles), but the thing is, the way she works is genuine, and the way I work is genuine and you can always get around that. It’s where you have people playing games and not being entirely, either collaborative or truthful about what they’re doing, that’s when you have an issue.
I mean it is an interesting kind of a mix because I do kind of worry the thing, like a bone, before I go onto it and then that’s it and kind of jump in. Whereas with her, when she’s in there, it can go in any kind of direction. I like to be able to do that to but it’s kind of trying to make sure that it just doesn’t all become a free for all. But like, there’s elements of me that says, ‘Well, what are you being a control freak about, just let it go?’. And there are elements of her kind of saying, Well OK, that kind of works. So you couldn’t help but enjoy her. She’s a wonderful presence. You’re getting off camera, what you’re getting on camera, so there’s no competition with her, no game playing… so I remember at one point deciding to just enjoy it, what else could I do, but enjoy it. What else should you do – you’re crazy! You’re working with Dianne Keaton – enjoy it!”
Brendan got into acting for the art not the fame, so how does he feel about the press and how does he strike that balance in press junkets of giving away some of yourself, enough to keep things interesting, while not giving everything away?
“Generally the press over here, in Ireland, has acted pretty well. There are a few times when people tried to start doing toe-rag stuff, and I don’t think it was particularly popular and so the press has dealt well with us up to now.”
“I don’t want to be famous, to be honest with you it’s a price that you have to pay. That you can’t go into a place and just melt into it. At times it can be lovely, particularly over in South Carolina, where I have been for the past five months. People were very generous about what they’d say, and they would move on. They would give you a little gift and they would move away. Whereas a lot of people actually want to take stuff from you and put you on their day, and fill up their day with your stuff, and that becomes a bit relentless. But it is nice to feel that you are making an impact with the work but I never agreed to giving people my life, and you know, I had the kids before I went into this thing, so they needed to be protected in that way too, in that they didn’t sign up to it.
And from our point of view, we’re very passionate about the work, and it is really about the work, and we are trying to get people to see the work, so we appreciate the fact that people are putting it out there. But I don’t think you have to sign up; you know the notion of celebrity, I think is very dull. Why do you want to know the way I brush my teeth. What’s wrong with you? Who cares? I think there’s this odd notion of celebrity and we try not to buy into it.”
Brendan has a very eclectic acting CV. Just this year he will be seen in, “Live By Night”, “Hampstead”, David E Kelley’s upcoming, 10 part, TV series, “Mr Mercedes”, and Paddington 2! So how does he decide what he will say yes to?
“I kind of had a rule of thumb that I would do one thing a year that had an artistic side of worth, I didn’t want to be fluff the whole time. At the same time, when I started doing this, it became so clear, I remember the first time I went out onto a big film set. It was down in Temple Bar and it was “Far and Away”… just the enormity of the story telling – the scale of it, I kind of remember saying to myself, I’m not going to allow myself to get so grim about it. I really am serious about it as an artistic pursuit, for want of a better term, but you’ve got to enjoy it! But it also has to have quality – “you have to treat the audience with respect but at the same time, if you can’t have a laugh, what are you doing in the industry?”
Brendan’s CV boasts over eighty films. Many of us have enjoyed a rake of his films but does Brendan sit and rewatch any of his own films?
“‘The General’ is one every so often that I would take out and look at because it was the first one and ‘Braveheart’ is one that comes on a lot, and I find it very hard not to watch ‘Braveheart’ because it’s such a well made film that if you get caught for 10 – 15 seconds, next thing you know, you are parking your bum on the side of the couch.
But there is a whole lot of work that has just disappeared and some of them would have been very heartfelt and you poured a lot into them. You kind of feel that film lasts, but actually, it doesn’t. There’s so much film now, there’s a lot of stuff that you may as well never have made it.”
So what’s next for Brendan? He has David E. Kelly’s 10 part TV series, ‘Mr Mercedes’. While he found the 5 month shoot challenging at time, he was glad he took the risk.
And is there something that he has yet to do but would love to?
” I don’t really have bucket lists to be honest with you but I haven’t worked with the Coen Bros. I may be doing it though. It’s a tiny little thing (shooting in August) but I don’t care, that was one thing (I always wanted to do) … they’re just so great, so hopefully this will come about.”
I really hope that comes about too. But while we are waiting to see that on the big screen, you can catch Brendan and Diane Keaton, in “Hampstead”, in Irish cinemas, from today.