Irish acting legend Brendan Gleeson celebrates his birthday today, March 29!

Gleeson was born in Dublin, Ireland, on March 29, 1955, and - believe it or not - didn't begin acting full-time until he was 34.

He spent his early professional life as a teacher of English and Irish before making his debut as a Quarryman in the 1990 film adaptation of "The Field."

Five years later, Gleeson played Hamish in "Braveheart," followed by his portrayal of Liam Tobin in "Michael Collins." He had his first starring roles in 1997's "I Went Down" and 1998's "The General."

Despite starting his acting career relatively later in life, Gleeson has scooped two major wins - both an Emmy and an IFTA for his portrayal of Winston Church in HBO's 2009 film "Into the Storm."

He's also scored five Golden Globe nominations, three BAFTA nominations, two Screen Actors Guild nominations, one Academy Award nomination, and another Emmy nomination.

Brendan and his wife Mary have four sons, Domhnall, Brían, Fergus, and Rúairí. Both Brían and Domhnall have followed in their father's footsteps as actors.

In honor of Brendan Gleeson's birthday, check out some of his top-rated movies:

The General (1998)

In this breakout role, Gleeson played real-life crime boss Martin Cahill, striking an extraordinary balance between terrifying and likable. 

Harry Potter films (2005, 2007, 2010) 

Who else BUT Gleeson could have played the gruff and ever-vigilant Mad-Eye Moody in the film adaptations of the Harry Potter films? 

In Bruges (2008)

Here, Gleeson played the more calm and reasonable half of a criminal odd couple with Colin Farrell, incongruously set in the quaint Belgian city of Bruges. It was his first collaboration with Martin McDonagh. 

The Secret of Kells (2010)

From the Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon, "The Secret of Kells" won over imaginations and hearts all over the world and was nominated for the Best Animates Feature Film at the Academy Awards. Gleeson voiced the character of Abbot Cellach, who does what he thinks is right to protect Kells from the Vikings. 

The Guard (2011)

In this first film from John Michael McDonagh, brother of Martin McDonagh, Gleeson starred as Gerry Boyle, an irreverent yet brave police officer in Galway who gets involved with an FBI drug bust. 

Cavalry (2014)

Another collaboration with John Michael McDonagh, Gleeson plays a priest with a death threat hanging over his head to atone for the sins of others in the Catholic church. As darkly funny as "The Guard."

Paddington 2 (2018)

While no one could steal the show in "Paddington 2" quite like Hugh Grant, Brendan Gleeson lands a close second as Knuckles McGinty, a hardened criminal who turns out to have a heart of gold and top-notch culinary skills. 

Riverdance: The Animated Adventure (2021)

Sadly we don't get to see Gleeson stepping about in this imaginative spin on the hit Irish dance show "Riverdance" where he voices the villainous Huntsman.

The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)

"I just don't like ya no more," Gleeson, playing Colm, says in Martin McDonagh's latest Irish-centered film that became the most Oscar-nominated Irish movie ever. Gleeson scored several nominations for the role, including at the Oscars, Golden Globes, BAFTAs, and IFTAs.

* Originally published in March 2018. Last updated in March 2023.