Brian lines out for a Gleeson family affair

Brian lines out for a Gleeson family affair
Psychic is on Sky Arts on Sunday. L-R, Brian Gleeson, Brendan Gleeson (also directs) and Domhnall Gleeson.

Brian Gleeson tells Esther McCarthy about appearing in a short film written and directed by other members of his clan

IT’S NOT every day you get to work with your brother on your dad’s directorial debut, working off a script from another sibling. So for busy Irish actor Brian Gleeson, signing up for Psychic was a no-brainer.

The director, of course, was his legendary acting father, Brendan, who also stars. Domhnall and Brian are also cast in the film, penned by their writer sibling Rory.

“The three of us, myself Domhnall and da, had worked together on The Walworth Farce and Rory had a funny idea where as opposed to Walworth where it was about a father controlling two sons, that we have a story where it’s two sons controlling a father,” he tells me.

“He had been watching Tommy Cooper and he was intrigued about how he acted in the interviews when he wasn’t doing a performance and was himself, so the germ of that came from that. The actual story itself is kind of interesting in that it’s open to interpretation. But it’s quite traditional — it’s about a family and a family business that is predicated possibly on a lie and what that does to them.”

The darkly funny Psychic tells of a charismatic TV psychic (Brendan) pushed out of retirement by his two sons (Brian and Domhnall) to go back on the road. TV coverage offers the chance of a large cult following — if they can just get past the host who is determined to bring them down.

For the star of Irish dramas including Taken Down and Love/Hate, being on set offered him a unique chance to see his dad try a new career path.

He directed theatre before in his 30s. You know, he’s been on so many different film sets, he had the folder with the script in it, we knew it inside out. So it was really exciting just to work with him.

“He really got a lot out of it and I think it all went really well. It went off without a hitch and then we had an Irish crew who were fantastic. It was a great few days. You know, he would always help with auditions and things and his sense of character has always been terrific. To see him bringing it into a new place in terms of how he directed was great.

“You know who’s acting, who’s directing, who’s writing and those roles are set in stone. And so because of that you can proceed in a professional manner and kind of attack it the way you would with any other colleague. We kind of have similar interests and differences as well, differences in opinion but we knew what it was. The roles are established.”

Brian has a busy year ahead — including a starring role in epic TV series Peaky Blinders, which he recently completed filming and which will air later this year.

“It’s a really well oiled machine at this stage. The show has made such an impact — it was great to do a show where the crew and everyone involved is excited to be there. Because it has that cultural impact, everyone was very energised by it. I have a few scenes with Cillian which is great and I play a Glaswegian Billy Boy. The Billy Boy gang were a real gang... it’s kind of based on them. It’s good meaty dialogue that you just have to attack and enjoy.”

He will also be on the big screen for Hellboy, a new blockbuster adaptation of the hit comic-book series. “That’s out In April, I have a little bit in that, playing Merlin the wizard. I loved Lord of the Rings growing up so I always wanted to play a wizard with a staff.”

This summer, he will co-star with Gabriel Byrne in Death of a Ladies’ Man, a movie inspired by and featuring the songs of Leonard Cohen.

“It’s a dramedy about a college professor who is trying to write a novel and he is visited by the ghost of his past. It’s all inspired by Leonard Cohen’s music. They got the rights to the music and the music will be threaded through. Gabriel plays a very dry, very funny kind of character. which he kind of is himself.”

Psychic was co-funded by Screen Ireland and Sky Arts and will air on Sky Arts on Sunday, March 17

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