Irish actor Aidan Gillen is adept at playing ruthless political operatives so his new role as the young Charles J Haughey should be a great fit.

The 45 year old award-winning actor is already winning rave reviews in the role as the disgraced Irish leader in RTE's forthcoming Citizen Charlie, a trilogy of 90-minute dramas charting his rise to power, and the decades of fabulous wealth and glamour that followed.

Gillen, best known for US crime series The Wire, the Irish produced HBO hit Game of Thrones and the popular RTE drama Love/Hate, will play Haughey in the three-part drama which will depict the 'emergence of modern Ireland through the mesmeric figure of Charles J Haughey.' A source told the press: 'RTE require an exceptional actor to play Haughey but also someone who would be known in both the UK and America.'

Gillen is said to be almost unrecognizable in the role.

The source reportedly described his portrayal as 'chilling' and said the 'hair and make-up was perfect to make Aidan look like Charlie Haughey in the sixties.' Regarded as the most powerful Irish politician of his generation, Haughey was first elected to the dail in 1957.

During his long career, which included several scandals, he served three terms as Irish Prime Minister.

Jane Gogan, RTE's commissioning editor for drama, told the Irish News: 'Charles J Haughey is a figure in Irish life on which everyone has a point of view but this drama will be as much about Ireland as it is about one man.'

Gillen has won a legion of international fans for his superb turn as Lord Petyr 'Littlefinger' Baelish in Game of Thrones, playing opposite his nemesis the equally gifted Irish actor Conleth Hill as Lord Varys.

One insider who witnessed Gillen's screen test for the Haughey role said his 'hair and make-up was perfect to make Aidan look like Charlie Haughey in the 60s.'