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Brendan Gleeson: Get to know 'The Guard' star

Brendan Gleeson

Brendan Gleeson Credit: handout

Brendan Gleeson is an Irish national treasure, one of the Emerald Isle's finest actors.

The 56-year-old is well-known on these shores as well, having appeared in the "Harry Potter" series as Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody as well as "Gangs of New York," among many other notable films.

Still, if you polled the average American moviegoer we suspect you'd find that Gleeson is far from a household name, one of those hardworking character actors best known as "that guy from [fill in the blank]."

In "The Guard," a black comedy opening Friday, Gleeson has one of his best roles yet. Here are some reasons he deserves to be a star in America as well:

Awesome gangster
Nobody - and we mean nobody - is better at playing gangsters. Gleeson earned great reviews as famous Irish crime figure Martin Cahill in "The General," co-starred in the underrated "Perrier's Bounty," and played a memorable hit man in the dark, introspective "In Bruges."

Real-life figures
In addition to Cahill, Gleeson's played a wealth of real-life figures. He won an Emmy as Winston Churchill in "Into the Storm," played Irish revolutionary Michael Collins in "The Treaty," and portrayed the medieval crusader Raynald de Chatillon in "Kingdom of Heaven." Talk about versatility!

Mark of excellence
Gleeson's presence in a movie isn't a guarantee of its quality, but it's a pretty solid indicator. After all, in addition to the above, he's been in "Braveheart," "Cold Mountain," "28 Days Later ...," "A.I. (Artificial Intelligence)" and more. Few actors are so dependable.

Performance range
Gleeson is also extraordinarily versatile: He can do comedy, drama, sci-fi, fantasy, historical epics and hybrids of the above. The actor even starred in the cult classic "Lake Placid," a movie best known for a stunning scene featuring Betty White feeding a cow to a crocodile. From "Harry Potter" to "Cold Mountain" to "Lake Placid," Gleeson's definitely the man for us.

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