Irish star Brendan Gleeson has been receiving rave reviews for his portrayal of British WWII prime minister Winston Churchill in HBO's "Into the Storm," directed by fellow Irish man Thaddeus O’Sullivan.
The film, which is a sequel to the top-rated "The Gathering Storm" premiers tonight at 9pm EST and stars Gleeson as Churchill in the thick of World War II.
Reuters said the film succeeeds on "several levels, but chief among them is the performance of Brendan Gleeson as Winston Churchill. Just as the prime minister carried Britain through the Second World War, it's Gleeson who shoulders the film and makes it grander and more compelling ..."
Canada's Globe and Mail lauded Gleeson for "a rousing yet deeply personal performance that would mist even the most hardened war historian's bifocals. If Gleeson is not similarly lauded for his take on the monumental Churchill legend, somebody is asleep at the awards desk."
Meanwhile, Gleeson has admitted that he had to deal with a few issues of his own before he could take on the role given the different perception of Churchill in Ireland.
“When it was broached, I had to think about it. I had to confront my own baggage in terms of where I was coming from and whether I could actually achieve this or not,” he said.
“With Churchill, I had to say, why do I want to take on this man who's an imperialist, who divided Ireland? In “Michael Collins”' I played an aide to Collins, who was in negotiations across the table from Winston Churchill at the time, so I knew what it felt like being on the other side.
"I actually had a lot of issues to confront in myself. I wasn't in awe of him in that regard. I also had to demystify him because there was a certain mythic thing about the other way of looking at him that was equally dangerous.
“Thaddeus O'Sullivan and I have been very honest in our approach, in the sense of knowing we have a lot to learn. He's so revered here [in England]. People constantly come up to me and say "You must be very honored to play this man." In a way I am. But in another way, I'm not. I'm actually really curious about him. The more I work on the film, the more honored I feel. But it's earned. I haven't made the common assumptions because I'm from another place."